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Title: A Marriage in High Life, Volume II
Author: Scott, Caroline Lucy
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Marriage in High Life, Volume II" ***

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VOLUME II ***



                               A MARRIAGE



                             IN HIGH LIFE.


                               EDITED BY


                     THE AUTHORESS OF ‘FLIRTATION.’


              “I was compelled to _her_—but I love _thee_
               By love’s own sweet constraint.”


                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                                VOL. II.



                                LONDON:
                 HENRY COLBURN, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
                                 1828.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                   A

                         MARRIAGE IN HIGH LIFE.


                  *       *       *       *       *



                               CHAPTER I.

            Now, in his turn, offended and surprised,
            The knight in silence from her side withdrew;
            With pain she marked it, but her pain disguised,
            And heedless seemed her journey to pursue,
            Nor backward deigned to him one anxious view,
            As oft she wished.

                                                     PSYCHE.


EASTER was now fast approaching, and Fitzhenry announced to Emmeline his
intention of going out of town for a fortnight,—but not to
Arlingford—And he concluded by saying, that, of course, he supposed she
would like to pass the time with her father at Charlton.

At any other time, and under any other circumstances, how gladly would
she have availed herself of the opportunity of returning to her former,
peaceful, happy home! But, like a sick person, her feverish mind had for
some time past dwelt on Arlingford. She longed to find herself again
there, for there, they _must_ meet—there they _might_ be alone! and she
could not help hoping for some explanation between them, which might
make her, at least, less miserable. Fitzhenry’s manner towards her had
of late changed: it had no longer the ease of indifference, the coldness
of mere civility; but, alas! it had only changed to apparent dislike, or
at least displeasure. He observed her more; but his observations seemed
always to prejudice him still more against her.

And yet, what could she do? or what leave undone? She had tried all
means to please him, and all had failed. She first had followed the
dictates of her own heart, and then, relying on Pelham’s knowledge of
her husband’s character, and on his advice, she had played a part most
unnatural to her—that of a gay, unfeeling woman of the world, when her
heart was breaking. All, in turn, seemed to be wrong.

For an instant, a horrid thought had crossed her mind. Could Pelham be
deceiving her? Could he, for any view, either of his own, or
Fitzhenry’s, be endeavouring to draw her on to what was lowering her
still more in her husband’s opinion? Was Pelham untrue to his friend? or
what would be still worse, was it a concerted plan, to exasperate her,
and at last to force her to break a connexion, which, to her husband,
had become intolerable thraldom. Emmeline, shuddering, turned away from
such thoughts, almost reproaching herself for ingratitude in having,
even for a moment, entertained them. But again disappointed in what she
had looked to with some degree of satisfaction, and finding she must
relinquish even those faint hopes which she had built, on their return
to Arlingford, her sick mind preyed on itself, and conjured up these
painful surmises, producing doubt and suspicion in the most confiding of
all characters.

Emmeline heard Fitzhenry’s notification about leaving town in silent
acquiescence; and, having no choice, to Charlton she went; but her heart
sank within her as she drove up to her father’s door, for, aware of how
much she was changed, she dreaded her parents’ observation, and feared,
that when constantly in their society, she could not keep up those false
spirits which she always endeavoured to assume when with them. Poor
Emmeline was in truth sadly changed. Instead of the active, cheerful
being she used to be, she was now generally abstracted, and sometimes
even apparently totally insensible to every thing around her; and then,
when fearful of betraying herself, she suddenly broke forth into those
unnatural bursts of feverish spirits, so painful to witness, because so
evidently proceeding from internal suffering.

Mrs. Benson watched her in silent anxiety; but her loss of bloom, of
activity, and appetite, even of spirits, all was attributed to a far
different cause; and, after some enquiries respecting her health, which
Emmeline always evaded, the warm-hearted mother, not without smiling at
her daughter’s overstrained shyness and delicacy, questioned her no more
on the subject; but contented herself with paying every possible
attention to her bodily comfort, while she indulged in the delightful
anticipation of new objects for her maternal pride and fondness.

And thus deceived as to the cause of Emmeline’s altered appearance, she
spared her any more embarrassing conversations.

The stated fortnight was past, and still she did not receive from
Fitzhenry the promised letter, announcing his return to town. But one
day the servant put into her hand one with the Arlingford post-mark. It
was not franked by Fitzhenry; the writing was unknown to her; and, in
alarm, she hastily broke the seal.

She found it was from Brown, the housekeeper, informing her that
Reynolds had been seized with a violent and dangerous illness; that the
doctors, who attended him, gave little hope of his recovery; and that he
so constantly expressed his anxiety to see her, and Lord Fitzhenry, that
she could not help complying with his request, and informing her
ladyship of his situation and wishes. She added—“I have also taken the
liberty to write to my lord; and not knowing where his lordship is, have
sent the letter to the steward in town to forward to him.”

Emmeline knew but too well whither the letter would follow him; but
thinking he might not receive it in time, or that, possibly, in the
society he then was, he might be little inclined to attend such a
summons, she determined immediately to go to Arlingford. How much the
desire of being there, of visiting every spot, every inanimate object in
her mind connected with Fitzhenry, and the possibility even of thus
meeting him, might have influenced her benevolent decision—probably she
herself did not know.

On arriving at Arlingford, Emmeline’s first question was, whether Lord
Fitzhenry was there: and the feeling of deep disappointment with which
she learnt that he was not, and that he was not even expected, betraying
to herself her real object in coming, made her half-ashamed when at
length she enquired after the poor invalid.

The accounts of Reynolds’s situation had been in no way exaggerated. He
was still alive, and sensible; but there was no possibility whatever of
recovery. Emmeline therefore endeavoured to overcome her own selfish
feelings, and went immediately to the sick room.

Independent of the gratification she received from witnessing the
pleasure which her presence seemed to give to the faithful old servant,
the duty she undertook then was one every way better suited to her
present state of mind, than the dissipation in which she had been lately
engaged. It soothed and quieted the tumult of her feelings, and brought
back to her mind some of the innocent, calm remembrances of happier
days. Educated by her mother in the exercise of every religious duty,
she, who had so lately been seen glittering in ball rooms, now knelt by
the bed of sickness; and while raising the dying man’s mind and hopes to
that better world to which he was hastening, she found herself
strengthened to bear the sorrows of that, in which she was still
appointed to suffer.

Towards the end of the second day after Emmeline’s arrival at
Arlingford, Reynolds grew rapidly worse; the symptoms of death seemed to
be fast increasing, and, aware of his approaching dissolution, his
anxiety for Fitzhenry’s arrival, and the nervous perturbation of his
mind, were painful to witness. Emmeline frequently asked if he had any
request to make, any wish she could communicate to him; but his only
answer was, that he must see him before he died.

To compose, and turn his thoughts to other things, Emmeline had again
recourse to religion; and, when thus employed, and while the last rays
of the evening sun shone faintly through the curtains of the sick room
on her kneeling figure, and on the sacred book she held in her hand, the
door of the apartment slowly opened, and Fitzhenry appeared.

He started back on seeing Emmeline, and, for a moment, stood still, as
if awed by the scene before him; but Reynolds recognizing him, and
exclaiming—“’Tis him! God be praised, I shall now die in peace,”
Fitzhenry hastened up to him, kindly taking his extended hand; then
again looking at Emmeline—“Good God! Lady Fitzhenry, since when have you
been here?”

“Only a day or two; I was sent for,” said Emmeline, hardly knowing
whether thus unexpectedly seeing her had given him pain or pleasure.

“I was so bold as to send for her ladyship,” said Reynolds. “It was my
request, my dying request. I knew I had not long to live. I knew I
should not die easy, unless I could once more see you, once more see
that angel!” and still grasping Fitzhenry with one hand, he held out the
other to Emmeline.

At such a moment, not to comply with any wish of the sick man, was
impossible; though, half fearful of his intention, she tremblingly put
her hand in his.

“Dear, dear Lord Fitzhenry,” continued Reynolds, “you know I love you as
if you were my own son. Death makes us all equal, and it makes me bold.
I have often wished, longed, to speak to you, but felt it was not my
place; and I had not courage; but listen to a dying man’s advice. I know
all—you know I do. Oh, my dear master! repent, and turn from your evil
ways! Do not any longer trifle with God, and with the happiness he has
offered you! Do not cast from you the angel Heaven has sent you!”—and he
joined their hands. “God of heaven!” he continued, with a trembling
voice, “look down on these, thy servants, and make them happy together!”

Fitzhenry’s head fell on the bed, as if wishing to avoid the eyes of
Emmeline, as he involuntarily sunk on his knees.

As for Emmeline, overcome and terrified at what had passed; fearful as
to the manner in which Fitzhenry might interpret such a seemingly
premeditated appeal to his feelings in her behalf; perhaps, even,
humbled at the situation in which it placed her, she hastily, almost
unconsciously, withdrew her hand from the feeble grasp of the dying man,
while his dimmed eyes were still raised to heaven; and, before either
he, or her husband, had time to discover her intention, she hastily left
the room.

But she had no sooner quitted it than she repented her hasty flight.
When Reynolds joined their hands, although Fitzhenry had not clasped
hers in token of affection, still he had suffered his to remain with it;
and, overcome by the old man’s address to him, he had appeared to have
given way to the kind—the virtuous impulse of the moment. That impulse,
and those virtuous feelings, might possibly have produced a favourable
explanation; and she, by leaving him so abruptly, had now, she feared,
evidently shown a reluctance to any thing which might have produced a
reconciliation between them.

Twice she had her hand on the lock to return; but, timid from excess of
affection, each time her courage failed her. The door which she had
scarcely closed, reopened of itself, and she heard these words uttered
by Fitzhenry: “It is impossible—indeed it can’t be so;—but depend upon
it, nothing shall be wanting on my part to contribute to her happiness,
and——”

Emmeline waited for no more. As one pursued by a horrid vision, she
hurried to her own room. The shades of evening deepened around her, as,
alone and half stupified with her various feelings, she counted the
striking of the heavy hours as they passed. Not a sound was to be heard
in the uninhabited house—no one came near her.

At length, when the clock slowly, solemnly sounded twelve, she started
up, and, recollecting that her maid was probably waiting for her, she
rung the bell, that she might dismiss her for the night; but she first
sent her to enquire after Reynolds, whose room was in a distant part of
the building. On the return of Jenkins, the report she brought was—“That
my lord was still with Reynolds—that they were apparently engaged in
serious conversation—for that no one was allowed to go into the room, my
lord himself giving him the necessary medicines, and having dismissed
the nurse.”

After her maid had taken off Emmeline’s gown, unplaited her hair, and,
at her desire, lit the fire in her dressing-room, as she fancied it
would be a sort of companion to her, which, in her present state of
mind, she felt to be necessary, she sent Jenkins to bed, and, drawing
her chair close upon the hearth, Emmeline remained lost in reflections
neither cheering nor soothing. The near neighbourhood of a death-bed
gives an awful feeling even to one in the full pride of youth and
health. To be aware that so close to us a fellow-creature is probably
just then passing, through the agonies of death, to that eternity to
which we all look with awe, is an overpowering sensation; and Emmeline
shuddered as these thoughts crossed her mind. She cast her eyes
fearfully round the room, and endeavoured to brighten the flame in the
grate. Still death and its horrors hung over her imagination, which
wandered now to future scenes of pain and punishment; and the thought
that Fitzhenry—her loved Fitzhenry, who had wound himself round every
fibre of her heart—might perhaps be an outcast from that heaven to which
she had been taught to look, as the end and aim of her existence, was
agony. For she could not conceal from herself that he was living in bold
defiance, or rather in total disregard and indifference to the will and
laws of his God.

Emmeline’s blood curdled, and a cold shiver crept all over her frame.
Instinctively she sunk on her knees, and prayed for him who had never
been taught to pray for himself. Her head sank on her clasped hands,
which rested on a chair beside her; her long hair falling over her face
and shoulders. The dead silence that surrounded her, appalled her
awe-stricken mind; she eagerly listened for some sound of human
existence and neighbourhood; but nothing was to be heard but the regular
vibration of the great clock in the hall. Emmeline remained kneeling,
till her nervous agitation grew so painfully strong, that she hardly
dared to move, and had not power to shake off the superstitious horror
which had taken possession of her. Every limb trembled; the cold sweat
stood on her forehead; and it was an inexpressible relief to her
disordered mind, when, at length, she heard a slow step in the gallery,
and a gentle knock at her door. She concluded it was her maid, bringing
her some tidings of Reynolds, and she quickly and joyfully bade her
enter. The door softly opened, and Fitzhenry appeared.

An unearthly vision could scarcely have startled Emmeline more. She
uttered an exclamation, almost of terror, as she hastily rose from her
knees; but almost directly sank into the chair beside her, her trembling
limbs refusing to support her.

“I think you gave me leave to come in,” said Fitzhenry, still standing
at the door. Emmeline bowed assent, when, closing it after him, he came
up to her, and put his candle on the mantle-piece.

It was the first time he had ever entered her room since that day when,
on her parents’ first arrival at Arlingford, he had conducted them to
it; and, dreading the possible purport of his visit _now_, after the
scene that had lately occurred, she had not courage to say a word. For a
minute, both were silent—at length Fitzhenry said—

“I thought you would be anxious to hear about poor Reynolds; and as he
has now sunk into something like sleep, I came away for a minute to tell
you he is more easy and composed; but I fear this stupor is only the
forerunner of death, and that all will soon be over. I shall lose a most
faithful servant—indeed, an attached friend—.”

He paused; but Emmeline, still too nervous to speak, said nothing.

“I also came,” said he, in an agitated, hurried manner, “to
thank you for your kindness in coming to him: it was most
kind—good—excellent;—like yourself. I feel it deeply, I assure you, as
well as Reynolds.”

These few words of praise, so unlike what she had expected from him
after what had passed, still more overpowered Emmeline. Had she dared to
give way to the feelings of the moment, she would have thrown herself
into her husband’s arms, and, in his tenderness, claimed a reward for an
action which he seemed to take as a kindness to himself. But alas! not
for one moment could she be deceived as to the nature of _his_ feelings;
not for one moment, after the decisive declaration which she had again
heard him make, could she attribute his present manner towards her to
any thing but mere gratitude for her attentions to his old servant; and,
repressing the throbbings of her bosom, and scarcely knowing what she
said, with a breathless voice she answered:

“I came to Arlingford because I thought Brown’s letter might not reach
you in time, and I did not know where to write to you—I mean, I thought
you might be otherwise engaged yourself.”——And then struck with the
appearance of coldness and reproof in her words, and the possible
interpretation to be given to them, she stopped short.

Fitzhenry made no comment. Both were now standing seemingly occupied
with watching the dying embers of the fire—at last he turned towards
her, she felt his eyes were on her.

“Poor Reynolds often names you,” he said; “but I think, unless you wish
it—perhaps you had better not go to him again—such scenes are painful,
and——”

He was continuing, but with the quick touchiness of love, (of unrequited
love, which interprets every thing to its disadvantage,) Emmeline,
catching at those words, and fancying they alluded to what had lately
passed, and were meant as a hint to her to avoid any possible recurrence
of the same scene, immediately, with a voice scarcely audible from
agitation, said:

“Oh no, certainly. And perhaps now that you are here, and that my
presence is no longer desired—I mean not necessary—it may be more
convenient if I return to Charlton——or to town.”

“Just whatever you prefer,” said Fitzhenry, coldly; and, after a
moment’s pause, “you know my wish is, that you should always do whatever
you like and judge to be best.” And he put up his hand to take his
candle, as if in preparation to leave the room.

Poor Emmeline had, in a moment of perhaps excusable irritation, artfully
made the proposal of leaving Arlingford, in the hope of its being
opposed; and this cold acquiescence quite overcame her. She could not
speak, for her lips quivered when she attempted it; and, depressed and
nervous with all that had passed, big tears again rolled down her
cheeks, and she kept her head averted to conceal them from Fitzhenry.

In raising his hand to take his candle, he somehow had caught on the
button of his coat-sleeve a lock of her long hair, which was hanging
loose over her shoulders; and, during the pause that followed his
answer, he was endeavouring to disentangle himself; but in vain.
Surprised at his still remaining near her, and in silence, she at last
looked up, and seeing what had happened, her trembling hands darted on
the entangled hair, and with the vehemence of vexation, she broke and
untwisted it till she again set him free. He looked at her for a minute
in seeming astonishment, and then, coldly wishing her good-night, left
the room.

He had scarcely been gone a minute, when recalling the kindness of his
manner on first entering, and blaming herself for the irritation she had
given way to, she determined to recall him; and, passing from one
extreme to another, and buoyed up with instant hope—though she scarcely
knew of what—she hastily collected her hair with a comb, folded her
wrapper closer around her, and opening her door, hurried into the
gallery. All there was dark and silent; she turned towards Fitzhenry’s
room—his door was open—but he was gone! Stopping a minute to listen and
take breath, she heard him crossing the hall below on his way to
Reynolds’s apartment. She determined to recall him, and hurried along
the gallery to the head of the stairs for that purpose. When she got
there, she saw the last faint ray of the light he was carrying
glimmering across the hall. Twice she endeavoured to pronounce his
name—but it was a name that never could be pronounced by her calmly. She
was frightened at the sound of her own voice, faint as its accents were,
(so faint that they never reached him to whom they were addressed,) and
her courage totally failed her.

“Alas!” thought she, as she sadly leant against the bannisters for
support, “if he came, what could I say to him? what have I to ask of
him, but pity for feelings which he can neither understand nor return?
and may I at least never so far forget myself. I am humbled enough
already.” And now, even alarmed at what those feelings had so nearly
betrayed her into, she returned to her own room as hastily as she had a
minute before quitted it; so capricious, so inconsistent does passion
render its victims.

Towards dawn of day, Emmeline, whose heavy eyes sleep had never visited,
heard a bustle below; several doors were hastily opened and shut. In a
little time, Fitzhenry (for she could never mistake _his_ step) passed
hastily along the gallery to his own room, and closed the door
immediately after him. Then there was again a dead silence.

“It is all over,” thought Emmeline; “Reynolds is at peace: the only
being in this house who loved me is gone!” A cold shiver crept over her;
she buried her tear-bedewed face in her pillow, and thus lay for long
immoveable, no conscious thought passing through her agitated mind.

When her maid came to her in the morning, she informed her Reynolds had
died about five o’clock; that Lord Fitzhenry had never left him; that he
had supported him in his arms to the last, and, when all was over,
appearing much affected, he had gone immediately to his own room, giving
orders that no one was to go to him till he rung.

Jenkins, unbidden, brought Emmeline her breakfast in her own apartment,
although at Arlingford that was a meal at which she and Fitzhenry had
always hitherto met. How painfully did she then feel the separation
between them! Fitzhenry was in sorrow, and she, his wife, dared not go
near him; even the servants seemed to dictate to her her conduct, and to
be aware of her situation.

As to her departure, she knew not what to determine. She had said she
would go. Her husband had not opposed her declared intention, and she
did not like again to be accused of caprice. Not feeling, however, that
she could leave Arlingford without at least again seeing him, she put
off her journey till the following day.

To pass the slow unoccupied hours, Emmeline, knowing there was no chance
of seeing Fitzhenry for some time, wandered out. The country was now in
its first freshness of beauty—all smiled around her. Those rides and
paths which, the summer before, she had first seen, with Fitzhenry at
her side, were again clothed in the lovely green of spring. Often at
those spots, connected in her mind with some circumstance, word, or even
look of Fitzhenry, which a few months back had, although in delusion,
made her heart sometimes beat with the flattering hope that she was not
quite indifferent to him, poor Emmeline would remain fixed, quite
unconscious of the time she thus passed in vague reverie. For, compared
with what she had endured in London, there was a sort of pleasure in her
present state of mind, raised and soothed as it had been, by the late
pious duties in which she had been engaged, and softened by the charm of
renovated nature. How often does some accidental sound or perfume,
wafted to us on a spring breeze, startle the mind by confused
recollections of hours gone by, and by undefinable sensations of mixed
pain and pleasure!

Emmeline had not been long returned to the house before a servant came
and told her that dinner was ready, and that my lord was waiting for
her. Their meeting was rather awkward on both sides. Fitzhenry never
raised his eyes upon her; but she was now well used to that sort of cold
neglect on his part. It was the first time for several months that they
had been _tête-à-tête_. This circumstance, and the room they were in,
all brought back forcibly to Emmeline’s mind their wedding-day; that day
of exultation and joy to her parents, and at its dawn of hope and
happiness even to herself—and how had it all ended!

To one formed for tenderness, for all the social charities of life,
there could not be a more cheerless fate than hers; for, repulsed from
where her heart should have found its best home, she was even denied the
consolations of confidential friendship. Occupied with these thoughts,
Emmeline was little inclined to join in uninteresting, forced
conversation. Fitzhenry, too, seemed much depressed, and they ate their
repast in nearly total silence.

When it was ended, Fitzhenry, under the plea of having several orders to
give, and many things to arrange in consequence of the death of
Reynolds, soon returned to his own room, and Emmeline passed the
remainder of the evening alone. On the approach of midnight, as he never
appeared, she concluded that Fitzhenry did not intend to return; she
therefore rang for her candle, and left the drawing-room; but before she
reached her own apartment, she was met in the gallery by her
husband—they both stopped.

“I shall leave this place to-morrow,” said Emmeline, in a low voice.
“Have you any letters or orders to send by me?” She still fondly hoped
he would make some objection to her departure; but he merely replied,
that he concluded she was going to Grosvenor-Street; that he would
follow in a few days; and that if she did not set out early, he would
send some letters by her.

“I can go at any hour,” said Emmeline, “I am in no hurry; it does not
signify at what time I go; all hours are the same to me.” And so they
parted.

It was in the same cold, distant manner that they separated next
morning, when Emmeline left Arlingford for town. For though she loitered
on, always hoping Fitzhenry would let fall some word at which she might
catch as an encouragement to stay, he never in any manner opposed her
departure; and at last, with a heavy heart, she entered her carriage,
and, after a melancholy, solitary journey, drove over London’s noisy
pavement, now glazed by a burning May sun, into Grosvenor-Street.

Those who have lived in London when melancholy circumstances have
excluded them from participating in its amusements, will enter into
Emmeline’s feelings when, during the first, and on many an ensuing
dismal evening, which she spent alone, she heard the carriages hurry
past her door in the constant bustle of pleasure. Often, as she sat in
the dusk of the now long-protracted spring evenings, Emmeline was only
roused from some deep reverie to a consciousness of the lateness of the
hour, by the glare of the lamps and flambeaux of some of these gay
equipages passing her darkened windows, and hastening to some general
resort of diversion.

For it was now the high tide, the carnival of London. Every one was
there——and every one went every where—hurrying and crowding after each
other, although caring for no one. What a wretched, humiliating picture
of human nature does London present during the months of May, June, and
July! Affection, friendship, all the social virtues, and charities,
disappear before folly, dissipation, and selfishness. And so infectious
is the disease, that almost the best hearts are, at least for the
moment, tainted; the steadiest heads turned. It is a constant hurry, a
perpetual bustle, in which no one has leisure to care, or feel for
another, whatever may be the inclination; and scarcely is there time to
drop a tear over the grave of a friend. If an uncle, cousin, or some
such near relation, is so inconsiderate as to choose these interesting,
busy moments to depart this life, it is looked upon as an almost
unpardonable act of selfishness on the part of the defunct, by which so
much time, perhaps many entertainments and balls, are lost to his
surviving family. On the other hand, the demise of some mere nightly
companion in the resorts of dissipation is generally hailed with joy,
not for their own demerits, but that not only _their_ opera-box and
ticket at Almacks, but that of all those nearly connected with them will
thereby become disposable; a short retirement being considered necessary
both to dry their tears, and give time to a fashionable tailor or
mantua-maker to send home the becoming mourning, in which they can again
sally forth to make up for the time they have lost, by returning with
renovated spirits to their dissipated duties. In the mean time, anxious
notes fly about town as soon as the death is announced in the papers;
and the doors of all the patronesses of fashion are beset by the dear
friends of the deceased, anxious to be the first to apply for the
vacated subscription, which happily can neither be carried away from
this world by the selfish, nor be disposed of by will by the obliging.

And this was the world into which poor Emmeline had to carry a breaking
heart!

After Fitzhenry had joined her in town, although nothing further had
ever passed,—no dispute, no difference had taken place,—yet, they
appeared mutually to consider themselves as more than ever, in short,
totally estranged.

Both looked miserable: an additional shade of melancholy seemed to have
gathered on Lord Fitzhenry’s countenance; and yet Emmeline was now
certain that her rival was again in town, and that he passed with Lady
Florence those hours which she now spent alone in Grosvenor-Street. For
Emmeline felt it impossible to return to her former life; and, as there
was no reason why she should, no one for whom she was called upon to
make the exertion, she gave up what had already injured her health, both
of mind and body.

Emmeline’s temper even was not what it used to be; often, if Fitzhenry
accidentally spoke to her, she answered him with asperity, and then the
minute he had disappeared, she wept bitterly for her fault—for her
offence towards love; longing for his return, that, on her knees, she
might implore his forgiveness. Yet, when they again met, it was the same
repulsive coldness on both sides.

But if there can ever be an excuse for one gifted by nature with the
blessing of a mild, gentle disposition, for giving way to irritation,
Emmeline might plead it. Her heart was every way wounded; even Pelham
she now dreaded; Mrs. Osterley’s hints eternally haunted her: if she
caught his eye fixed upon her in anxious interest, her sick fancy took
alarm, and the deep crimson in her cheeks betrayed apprehensions, which
she wished to conceal even from herself.

Tormented with this idea, she now shunned his society and conversation,
as much as she had formerly sought it; for, although her extreme
diffidence with regard to her own attractions, (a diffidence which her
husband’s disregard of her had much increased,) her unsuspecting
innocence, and simplicity of heart, would rather have led her to prize
than avoid the attentions of an agreeable man, regardless of their
raising suspicions in the breast of others, any more than in her own;
yet, now being aware of what the world _could_ and _did_ say, that very
innocence and simplicity made her fly from the least appearance of evil.
She was not one of those to play off on a husband the arts of
infidelity, in order, by jealousy, to rouse his feelings, and by the
fear of wounded honour, to attract his attentions towards her.

Fitzhenry cared not for her; but the vow of constancy which her lips had
pronounced at the altar, and which was since engraven by strong
affection on her heart, was too sacred in her estimation to allow even
the uninterested world to suspect that she trifled with it.

Her intercourse with Pelham being thus embittered, and her parents being
the last to whom she could reveal her sorrows, she dragged on, in
wretched solitude of heart, a listless, useless, aimless existence. The
young, the gay, and the busy meantime bustled around her, careless of
her unhappiness; or, if they sometimes observed its melancholy symptoms
on her pale cheek, or in her heavy, absent eye, they only wondered “what
could make Lady Fitzhenry so discontented, when she possessed every
thing in the world to render her happy.”

It is thus we too often pass harsh and hasty judgment on those whose
grave or suffering countenances chance to cross us in the paths of
pleasure, checking, for a minute, by their sad and therefore unwelcome
presence, our feeling of enjoyment, in reminding us, most disagreeably,
of its transient nature.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER II.

       Poured in soft dalliance at a lady’s feet,
       In fondest rapture he appeared to lie....
       Their words she heard not—words had ne’er exprest
       What well her sickening fancy could supply—
       All that their silent eloquence confest
       As breathed the sigh of fire from each impassioned breast.
       While thus she gazed, her quivering lips turn pale,
       Contending passions rage within her breast,
       Nor ever had she known such bitter bale,
       Or felt by such fierce agony opprest.

                                                          PSYCHE.


EMMELINE having a general invitation to the house of Lady Mowbray—one of
her new acquaintance, who was _at-home_ on a stated day every week; and
never having yet been to any of her _soirées_, she one evening exerted
herself to pay her a visit. There were not many people assembled, owing
to the _many things to be done_, a phrase in the fashionable slang of
London, expressive of that delightful prospect of busy pleasure, which
consists in passing the greatest part of the night in a carriage,
fighting in and out of a dozen houses, the owners of which are, perhaps,
never seen by their visitors.

Among the few whom these many pleasures had that evening spared to Lady
Mowbray, Emmeline found none with whom she was much acquainted; so that
after having remained what she thought a sufficient time, hearing a loud
knock, announcing a fresh reinforcement of company, and thinking she had
performed her duty of civility, she meditated her departure, when the
door opened, and Lady Florence Mostyn was announced.

At that name, Emmeline started so violently, that her neighbour turned
round to see what had alarmed her; but could neither perceive any cause
for her agitation, nor receive any answer to her enquires, whether she
was well, for Emmeline’s eyes, thoughts, and every sense, were fixed on
her rival.

Lady Florence, after speaking to one or two other people, went up to
Lady Mowbray, and seated herself by her, luckily at some distance from
where Emmeline was placed. Lady Florence was past the first bloom and
beauty of youth; but this was more apparent in the somewhat thickened
contour of her figure, than in her face. Her deep blue eyes were still
brilliant; her lovely chiselled mouth still opened to show teeth like
pearls, and the roses and lillies still contended in her cheeks. She was
simply dressed; but there was not a curl, however careless it appeared,
but fell just where it should, and the large shawl in which she was
wrapped, took some new graceful fold each time she moved, and by its
brilliant colours gave additional effect to the delicate whiteness of a
round arm, covered with bracelets. Her voice, and look, were sweetness
itself; but in her eyes, an expression lurked, that recalled to the
mind, Walter Scott’s “Wiley Dame Heron.”

Lost in a trance of most painful feelings, Emmeline sat for some time
like a statue, without power to form any resolution, as to whether she
would fly or face her enemy. _There_ was the being who reigned paramount
in her husband’s heart! Those were the eyes on which he gazed with
fondness! on that hand he had sworn constancy! on those lips he had
sealed his vows! the silver tones of that voice thrilled to _his_ heart,
as his did to hers!

Poor Emmeline gazed on all these charms, till, growing frightened at her
own increasing agitation, she hastily got up, and moved towards the
door.

“My dear Lady Fitzhenry,” exclaimed Lady Mowbray, who unfortunately had
observed her intended departure, “I hope you are not already going?”

At that name, the eyes of Lady Florence eagerly followed those of the
speaker, and rested on Emmeline. And, for an instant, as if impelled by
some power they could not resist, the rivals glanced at each other, and
their eyes met. But Emmeline’s soon fell beneath the scrutiny, and she
turned away her death-like face. The whole expression of Lady Florence’s
countenance had changed. Emmeline’s appearance, every way so different
from what she had expected, in an instant roused, within her, feelings
she could scarcely command. Her uncontrolled passions were plainly
painted in her face; the deep crimson in her cheeks overcame the well
applied rouge; her eyes flashed fire; and the lovely smile on her lips,
was replaced by a fearful expression of “envy, hatred, and malice.”

Emmeline, scarcely able to support herself, and endeavouring to utter
some excuse, still moved towards the door.

“Well, really you are using me very shabbily,” said Lady Mowbray, in
reply to her uncertain accents, and following her with most officious
civility. “But I know this is the moment when it is impossible to keep
any body for half an hour; and quiet, sober people, like myself, have no
chance of collecting anything like agreeable society. I suppose you are
going to the D——e house, or some such gay thing.”

Emmeline stammered out, that she was obliged to go home.

“Home! I fear you are not well,” retorted Lady Mowbray, now, for the
first time, observing her blanched cheek, and bloodless lips. “Do at
least wait till you hear that your carriage is ready:” and, cruelly well
bred, she rang the bell, enquiring repeatedly whether Emmeline would not
be prevailed upon to take something.

Unable to speak, she shook her head in answer, and the instant the
welcome sound of her own name reached her ears, she darted out of the
room, though still followed by the civilities and offers of the lady of
the house.

When in her carriage, and when too late, Emmeline remembered Pelham’s
often repeated advice, to endeavour to control, or, at least conceal,
her feelings better. She was aware she had humbled herself before her,
who, of all people, she would least wish should read those feelings; and
she felt also that she had left herself and her husband subjects for
animadversion, certainly not of the most charitable nature. But poor
Emmeline, in common with all those who allow their affections to control
their judgment, never, till too late, discovered what her conduct should
have been—an artlessness of disposition, ill-calculated to contend with
a guileful world.

This evening’s adventure completely sickened her of the amusements of
London; and aware from constant, sad experience, of her inability to
perform her hard part properly, she resolved to avoid in future the
possibility of any recurrence of such scenes; for though her mind had
long been intent on meeting Lady Florence, from a sort of anxious,
jealous curiosity, yet now she felt she could not endure the trial
again; and, that weakened both in health and spirits, she was no longer
equal to the exertions which she knew she should make. She remained,
therefore, in spite of Lady Saville’s repeated attacks and railleries,
for some time entirely at home; and, catching gladly at an excuse for
avoiding even the opera, she gave away her box the following week, to
some Hampshire neighbours, who she heard were in town; and the weather
being uncommonly hot, she had, on the Saturday, ordered her carriage,
after her solitary dinner, to take a drive out of town, in the hope that
a little fresh air might revive and compose her spirits.

But just as she was going, a note arrived from Lady Saville, to say,
that she was disappointed of a friend, with whom she was to have gone to
the opera, that night, and, who being now unavoidably prevented, had
made over the box to her, but her carriage being broken, and having no
one to go with, she would be obliged to give up the plan entirely,
unless Emmeline would be compassionate and carry her; and she entreated
she would overcome her abominable laziness, and agree to the
proposal—adding, it was the new opera, and that it would do her good,
for she gave herself the blue devils, by moping so much at home.

Too indifferent to every thing, even to refuse, Emmeline gave up her
intended drive, changed her dress, and she and Lady Saville went
together to the opera.

About the beginning of the second act, she saw Lady Florence come into a
box on the same tier, about ten or twelve off; she was alone—and at that
distance, Emmeline thought would probably not recognize her; but,
wishing to conceal herself from her view, she made some apology to Lady
Saville for being whimsical, and, begging to change places with her, she
moved to the opposite seat, drawing the curtain of the box so as
entirely to hide herself; although, like the poor bird ensnared by the
serpent, she never could withdraw her eyes from her rival.

Before long, a man entered the box where Lady Florence was; he seated
himself directly with his back towards Emmeline; but it was impossible
for _her_ to mistake him;—the oval head, the brown, curly hair, the
attitude and air of the arm that leant on the edge of the box, the
action of the hand, all told her but too well it could only be
Fitzhenry.

Never before had she beheld them together; never before had she, in a
manner, witnessed those words, those looks of love, addressed to Lady
Florence, which should now have belonged to her. Though but too well
aware of the whole truth, she had as yet suffered merely from a vague,
unembodied feeling of jealousy. She had been wounded by neglect; by the
mortifying conviction that she was not beloved by her husband; but had
never yet actually witnessed his demonstrations of love to another.

Lady Florence leant towards Fitzhenry, and seemed to whisper something
to him. He shook his head, as if contradicting her; but soon after,
Emmeline saw him look round towards the box where she was, with a glass,
as if in search of some one. She hastily, although she hardly knew why,
shrunk back, hiding herself behind the curtain, which she drew still
more forward.

They then appeared to be engaged in most earnest conversation for some
time, till at length Fitzhenry, leaning back in his chair, sat with his
hand over his face, and there seemed to be a total silence between them.
Ere long, a third person came into the box. Fitzhenry then moved from
his place, and disappeared.

To those who have known the torments of jealousy, I need not describe
Emmeline’s feelings; and to those who have not, my expressions would
appear exaggerated and unnatural. Like a statue, she sat during the
remainder of the opera, not able to attend to any thing around her.
Luckily, Lady Saville, who was engaged in a regular flirtation, observed
neither her preoccupation, nor additional dejection; and when the
curtain fell, Emmeline mechanically followed her companions out of the
box. Her complete absence of manner, and Lady Saville’s exclusive
attention to him, who was whispering soft nothings in her ear, had so
effectually driven away all other visitors, that Emmeline had no one to
take charge of her; and Lady Saville and her admirer soon parted from
her, the former having found a friend to take her to the usual supper
party at Lady L——y’s after the opera; and the latter being too gallant,
and too much _épris_ not to accompany her to the carriage, promising,
however, to return to Emmeline. At this minute, however, Pelham, luckily
observed her, and forcibly making his way up to her, exclaimed,

“What here! and alone! I thought I saw strangers in your box, so never
went near it; how comes it I find you in this desolate situation? Do
take my arm.”

Emmeline made no reply; and, soon perceiving that she was more than
usually depressed, Pelham, after one two ineffectual efforts, forbore
even to speak to her. They made their way towards the door at the top of
the great stairs; and, leaving her there, Pelham went to look for her
carriage.

Emmeline shrunk behind the door, wrapping herself close up in her cloak,
and not daring to raise her eyes from the ground for fear of meeting
those of her husband, or of Lady Florence. Her own name, however,
pronounced close by her, soon roused her, and she saw Mrs. Osterley
coming up to speak to her, accompanied by Mr. Moore.

“My dear Lady Fitzhenry,” said she, “what an age it is since I have seen
you! Where have you been hiding yourself? What can you have been about?”

“I have been out of town,” replied Emmeline, in a faint voice.

“Oh, yes! I suppose at Easter, of course; but surely you have been
returned some weeks; for I have frequently met Lord Fitzhenry: and, by
the bye, now I recollect, I heard of you the other evening, at Lady
Mowbray’s, where I was so unlucky, as just to miss you; and I was sorry
to hear you were taken ill there: I hope you are quite recovered.”

“Perfectly so,” said Emmeline, coldly.

“How did you like our new opera, to-night?” continued Mrs. Osterley. “I
thought it inexpressibly dull; yet, in Paris, I had liked it very much;
what did you think of it?”

“I?” said Emmeline, absently, “I really don’t know.”

“Don’t know? I suppose you mean you have been so agreeably engaged in
conversation, that you did not attend,” retorted Mrs. Osterley,
laughing. “No one comes to the opera for the music in London.”

At that minute, Pelham relieved poor Emmeline by saying, that her
carriage was driving up, and that they had better be moving down stairs.
She willingly took his proffered arm, bowing to Mrs. Osterley, who,
before the door had closed upon them, and within Emmeline’s hearing,
exclaimed, (with a loud laugh to Mr. Moore,) “Well! that is the best
arranged, best understood affair I ever saw. Lord Fitzhenry and his
_chère amie_ are just gone down one stair, and Lady Fitzhenry and Pelham
are making their escape by the other! and then we English boast of our
morality!”

The door closing, prevented Emmeline from hearing more than the burst of
applause which followed this remark. Involuntarily she shrunk from
Pelham; but he, not aware of any thing that had passed, intent on
getting her to the carriage as soon as possible, only pressed her arm
the closer, to steady her steps, and hurried her almost forcibly after
him.

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, they found an unusual crowd
and bustle among the servants; and, by the noise and lashing of whips in
the street, there appeared to be great contention among the coachmen.
Pelham, anxious to get Emmeline out of the confusion, still drew her on,
persuaded that her carriage must, by that time, be ready. But, when they
got outside into the street, he saw that her coachman was engaged in
violent contest with another, both endeavouring to drive up at the same
moment.

The crowd of footmen who had gathered round the interesting spot,
encouraging the merciless combatants, was so great, that to retreat was
impossible. Pelham could not, among them, distinguish Emmeline’s
servants; and, amid the din of voices, whips, trampling of hoofs on the
pavement, and shivering of breaking lamps, it was vain to attempt to
make them hear him.

Emmeline, nervous and frightened at the uproar around her, forgot for a
minute all her former apprehensions, and clung terrified to Pelham; who,
to defend her as well as he could, from the unruly mob, put his arm
round her. Just then, the horses in her carriage, high-bred, spirited
animals, and lately little employed by their mistress, irritated beyond
endurance by the lashing of the whip, became ungovernable; they reared
up, throwing themselves away from their opponents, and, in the struggle,
one of them fell down on the foot-pavement, increasing the confusion.

A loud scream was uttered by a female voice, and, by the rush of
link-boys in an instant to the spot, Emmeline beheld Lady Florence
Mostyn thrown back on Fitzhenry’s breast. The pole of the carriage had
touched her, but it was the cry of terror more than of pain.

“Stop! on peril of your life, you rascal!” exclaimed a voice, that shot
through Emmeline’s very soul.

“Whose carriage is that?” demanded Fitzhenry, in an authoritative tone,
while still supporting Lady Florence in his arms. There was a sudden
silence; the contending coachmen’s whips instantly were both quieted. He
again repeated his question more loudly than before.

“My lord!” said one of Emmeline’s footmen, going up to Fitzhenry, “it is
your lordship’s carriage.”

“_My_ carriage!” he exclaimed angrily. “Who ordered it here?”

“We are here with my lady,” replied the terrified footman. “Her ladyship
is just getting in—shall I tell her your lordship wishes to be taken
home?”

“No, no, you fool!” answered Fitzhenry, in a tone of passion which
Emmeline had never before heard from his lips, and which made her
shudder; “drive off as fast as you can.”

By this time, Pelham had put his charge, more dead than alive, into her
carriage, and, not liking to leave her alone in the agitated state she
then was, got in after her. Emmeline put out her feeble hand, meaning to
prevent him; but, quite overcome, she could not articulate a word; and,
no longer able to command herself, she burst into violent hysteric sobs.
Totally mistaking her meaning, and interpreting the action into a wish
that he should not leave her, Pelham tenderly seized her hand, desiring
the servants to go home as fast as possible. The fallen horse was soon
raised. The contending vehicles disengaged, and they drove rapidly
off—but followed by cheers and laughter from the more blackguard part of
the mob who had witnessed the fray; to which were added personal jokes
and remarks, that made Pelham hastily draw up the glasses.

Emmeline still made efforts to speak but Pelham could not distinguish a
single word which she endeavoured to articulate; and, only bidding her
compose herself, said every thing most kind and soothing, while he again
and again pressed her hand in his. When they arrived in
Grosvenor-street, he forcibly drew Emmeline’s arm within his, to help
her up stairs, and, placing her on a couch, demanded in a low voice,
whether she would take any thing, and whether he should send for her
maid.

“Oh no, I shall soon recover—make no fuss, I entreat—it is nothing—I
have been very foolish—and frightened—that is all. But,” added she, with
an imploring look, “leave me—for God’s sake leave me.”

“Not till I see you better, I really cannot.” For her bosom still heaved
with convulsive sobs, and her heart seemed bursting.

Uncertain what to do, or say, and surprised at her repulsive manner
towards him, Pelham walked, disturbed, up and down the room in silence,
thinking it best for a little time to leave her to herself. At length,
hastily coming up to her, “My dearest Lady Fitzhenry!” he exclaimed,
“allow me to speak to you.”

Emmeline started, and looked at him aghast; but without noticing, or
even looking at her, Pelham continued in a hurried manner, “I trust you
will pardon me for venturing on so sacred a subject,—for touching on
sorrows, which you, with such courage, such delicacy, conceal in your
own breast—but I know all;—and I know your husband so well, that I am
sure I can give you comfort and hope.”

Inexpressibly relieved as Emmeline was by these words, which satisfied
her that she still had a friend on whom she could rest, yet other
feelings for the moment prevailed, and clasping her hands with the
vehemence of despair: “Oh, that is impossible! there is no hope, no
happiness for me in this world!”

“On my honour,” replied Pelham, with earnestness, “you may trust me; I
would not deceive you;” and, sitting down by her, he took her nervously
shaking hand in his. A few minutes before, Emmeline would have shrunk
from his touch, but those words had been sufficient to banish entirely
all her former miserable apprehensions; soothed by hearing once more the
consolatory voice of friendship, for an instant she smiled in gratitude
on his kind countenance, and then, quite overcome with the variety of
her feelings, tears again burst forth, and her head sank on his
shoulder.

At that instant, the door was hastily pushed open, and Fitzhenry
appeared! He started on seeing Pelham and Emmeline. As she quickly
raised her head at the noise he had made on entering, involuntarily a
faint exclamation of dismay escaped her, and even Pelham seemed
disconcerted.

“Lady Fitzhenry is not very well;” the latter at length said, after an
awkward pause, as if feeling that some explanation of the scene was
necessary; “and,” added he, addressing himself to Emmeline, “allow me to
recommend you to retire to your own room.”

Emmeline rose from her seat; every limb shook. Fitzhenry came towards
them, fixed his eyes sternly upon her, but said nothing. “I have not
been very well lately,” she with difficulty stammered out: “the heat in
town does not agree with me; and, I think, I will go to Charlton
to-morrow.”

Still Fitzhenry spake not, but Emmeline plainly saw anger and contempt
written on his countenance: she faintly wished him and Pelham good
night. The words died on her lips; for a sad foreboding told her she was
taking a final leave of her husband, as she was aware that it was
impossible they could any longer continue even on the footing they then
were. She paused a minute in hopes Fitzhenry would speak. One word would
have brought her to his arms, all forgiven, all forgotten. But he seemed
resolved on silence, and Emmeline went on into the inner drawing-room
that led to her own apartment.

Pelham perplexed, and uncertain how to act, followed her with his eyes
without moving from the spot she had quitted, while Fitzhenry, in great
apparent perturbation, paced the room. At length, just as Emmeline had
reached the door of her own apartment, seeing her trembling hands had
some difficulty in opening it, Pelham hurried to her assistance.

“You mean then,” said he in a low voice, as he turned the lock, “to go
to Charlton to-morrow. You shall hear from me, probably see me, and I
will bring you good news, perhaps even Fitzhenry;—cheer up, I entreat
you, all will yet be well.”

Emmeline forced a faint smile, and held out her hand to him; he seized
it with affection. “God of heaven bless and support you,” he said, with
earnestness, and hastily left her.

When he returned to the outward drawing-room, Fitzhenry was gone; he
hurried down stairs in hopes of finding him in his own room, but the
servants informed him, he had again left the house.

Emmeline ordered her carriage after church next morning, to take her to
Charlton; but how great a change do a few hours often make in our views!
She already repented having declared her intention of leaving town.
Twice, as the hour named by her drew near, she delayed the carriage,
wishing (much as she dreaded the interview) to see Fitzhenry before she
went. It was now past three, but still he did not appear, and no message
came from him. She rang the bell—“Is Lord Fitzhenry gone out?” She
enquired, rather fearfully.

“No, my lady,” answered the footman; “I believe my lord is not yet up;
at least he has not rung his bell; but shall I enquire?”

“Oh! no matter,” said Emmeline, with a faltering voice, and dismissing
the man. Convinced by this, that it was her husband’s intention they
should not meet, she determined to write to him; for to part thus, in
what seemed a decided, open rupture, without some sort of reconciliation
taking place, she now felt to be impossible: she therefore sat down, and
took her pen, although not knowing what to say. She once thought she
would beg for an interview—demand to be released from her promise of
silence, in order to come to some explanation. But yet what had she to
say? what had she to learn?

Even if Mrs. Osterley’s strange and cruel hints had reached his ears,—if
he could so mistake her and his friend, as to give any credit to them,
could she flatter herself he was enough interested about her, to care
whom she might prefer? On the other hand, to endeavour to exculpate
herself from suspicions which he might never have entertained, seemed
ridiculous. Besides, could she now, as a new thing, charge him with
coldness, dislike, and infidelity—all which he had openly declared, and
for all which he had prepared her months before.

Discouraged by these considerations from adverting to what had passed
the night before, she at length, after various doubts and indecisions,
merely wrote these words:—

    “A very few days in the country will, I am sure, quite restore
    me to my usual health. I will return to Grosvenor Street by the
    end of the week; but if, for any reasons, you should wish me to
    come home sooner, I trust to your letting me know, and I shall
    be most willing to obey your summons. You will find me at my
    father’s.

                                               “EMMELINE FITZHENRY.”

This she intended should be given to Fitzhenry after her departure, and
she sealed and directed it for the purpose.

The carriage drove up to the door—the servants busied themselves in
putting on the luggage, and, hopeless of an interview with Fitzhenry,
Emmeline went slowly, sadly, to her own room, to prepare for her
departure.

On opening a drawer, she saw the small Geneva watch and chain which
Fitzhenry had sent her when a girl. Hardly aware of what she did, she
pressed it to her lips—then hung it round her neck. She felt a sad
presentiment that she was leaving her husband’s roof for ever, and this
watch was the only token of kindness she had ever received from him; the
only memorial she possessed, except her fatal wedding-ring, placed by
him on her hand in reluctance and aversion.

As Emmeline passed back through the drawing-room, she looked mournfully
at each object in it, convinced she was beholding them for the last
time. She slowly descended the stairs; every limb trembling with nervous
apprehension. Again she thought she would endeavour to see her husband;
and she paused at the door of his room to give herself one more chance;
for she thought, perhaps, when he heard her, he would come out to meet
her; or if she could only once more catch the sound of his voice, in its
usual tone of gentleness and kindness, it would give her courage to
demand admittance. But all was still. While thus standing debating with
herself, her heart beat so violently, that she could scarcely breathe,
and she was forced to lean against the banister for support.

“The chaise is quite ready, my lady,” said a footman, coming up to her;
for, seeing her on the stairs, he fancied her impatient to set
off—“every thing is put in.”

With no possible farther excuse for delay, feeling her fate was fixed,
she drew down her veil, to conceal her agitation, hurried through the
hall, and without allowing herself more time for reflection, got into
the carriage.

“To Charlton,” said the butler, who had closed the door after her, the
servants being already placed in the seat behind, and the postilions
immediately drove off.

Emmeline looked back once more at the house from which she felt she was,
probably, banishing herself for ever; and then sinking back in the
carriage, gave way to her feelings. “Farewell, then, Fitzhenry,” she
exclaimed, “since such is your will; and may heaven bless you, and have
pity on me!”

As she drew near Charlton, she endeavoured to compose herself, but in
vain: when she looked to the future, all was so dark and hopeless, and
she was so strongly impressed with the idea that she should never see
Fitzhenry again, that she felt her heart sink within her; and, quite
overpowered, and fearful of betraying her secret to her parents, she
more than once thought of stopping the carriage. But whither could she
go?

Fitzhenry had allowed her to depart. It seemed, indeed, even his wish
that she should go; and, unsolicited, she could not return. On they
drove. It was a beautiful bright Sunday; every one around her seemed to
be enjoying the day in gladness and gratitude. The roads and fields were
filled with joyous groups, the air with gay sounds.

“Do I sin in loving him so entirely, so passionately?” thought Emmeline;
“that amid so many that rejoice, I alone am doomed to be miserable?”

In uttering these words, perhaps Emmeline _did sin_. But it is the sin
into which suffering betrays us all. The wretched are hidden, or hide
themselves, from our view; and when, in sorrow, we look around us, we
compare our situation with those only who happen, at that moment, to be
basking in the transitory sunshine of cheerfulness. How many, as
Emmeline’s gay equipage drove rapidly by, probably coveted her riches,
her luxuries, her youth, and her beauty! while she envied the ragged,
laughing beggar-boy, by the road-side, who, as her carriage passed,
tossed his naked arms in the air, hallooing, in pure gaiety of heart and
enjoyment of existence.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER III.

           Has thy heart sickened with deferred hope?
           Or felt th’ impatient anguish of suspense?
           Or hast thou tasted of the bitter cup
           Which Disappointment’s withered hands dispense?
           Thou knowest the poison which o’erflowed from hence
           O’er Psyche’s tedious, miserable hours.

                                                       PSYCHE.


WHEN Emmeline arrived at her father’s, the servant informed her, that
both Mr. and Mrs. Benson were out in the carriage, but were expected
home before dinner. At that moment, she felt their absence was a relief,
and hastily getting out of the carriage, she desired the coachman, on
his return to town, immediately to ask whether Lord Fitzhenry had any
orders for him—for she still fondly hoped, that on reading her note, he
might follow her, and might himself wish for some explanation of what
had passed the preceding evening.

During the hour that elapsed before her father and mother returned,
Emmeline endeavoured to compose her spirits. She bathed her red and
swollen eyes, walked in the fresh air, and, hearing their carriage drive
up to the door, resolved to command herself, and went to meet them with
a cheerful countenance. But when the spirits are weak, there is nothing
so difficult to bear as tenderness. Her father’s fond benediction, the
smile of delight that beamed in her mother’s face, on unexpectedly
beholding her, were too much for poor Emmeline, unused as she was to
demonstrations of affection; and falling into her mother’s arms, in
spite of her resolutions and endeavours, she again burst into tears.

“My dear love! my child!” both exclaimed, “what can be the matter?”

“Nothing, nothing,” said Emmeline; “I have not been quite well lately,
and my spirits are in consequence weakened; and I was too happy to see
you—that is all.”

Mrs. Benson shook her head, and looked at her incredulously. Her father,
fixing his eyes stedfastly on her face, took her hand.

“Speak to me, my girl,” said he. “What is it that so distresses you?”

“Nothing!” again repeated Emmeline in a fainter voice; “I shall soon be
quite well.”

“Emmy! Emmy!” rejoined her father, “for once I don’t believe you; it is
too long since you have not been _well_, as you call it; and there is
_a_ something the matter that I must and will know.”

Emmeline averted her head, and did not answer.

“You need not attempt to deceive me any longer, girl,” said Mr. Benson,
sternly; “I have long suspected that all was not right between you and
your husband. I will now know the truth, and I have a right to demand it
of you.”

Still she was silent.

“What! you will not speak! you will not confide in me!” he continued,
his temper rising; “then I must seek for information elsewhere:” and he
moved towards the door of the room.

“Oh, my father!” exclaimed Emmeline, terrified—“What would you do?”

“Do? why I shall go to town directly. I shall see Lord Fitzhenry,” said
Mr. Benson, in a calmer, but decided tone; “and from him I must learn
what has passed between you, since you, my own child, will not trust
me.”

“Oh! speak not so to me, dear father! indeed I have full confidence in
your kindness—in your indulgence; but really, I have nothing to tell
which you do not know already—I have been to blame, perhaps—I mean I was
not aware—I was deceived,—even you dear father”—

“Deceived?” repeated Mr. Benson quickly—catching at the word: “deceived
by me? what do you mean?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing,” said Emmeline, alarmed at her father’s unusual
look of anger: “we were all to blame, but—but—perhaps it would have been
better if—”

Poor Mr. Benson, like many both of his superiors and inferiors could not
bear to be supposed to have erred, or even to have been mistaken, and
all the less when conscious the imputation was true; in a tone of
violence, therefore, which Emmeline had never heard addressed to her,
and suddenly letting go her hand, which he had been holding in both of
his: “What, Emmeline,” said he, “are you so unjust, so ungrateful, as to
accuse me as the cause of your misfortunes? blame your poor, doating,
old father for having given up his all to secure your happiness? For
shame, for shame, Emmy, I never expected that from you.”

“Oh hear me, hear me patiently!” she exclaimed, seizing on his arm.

“No, Emmeline, I can hear no more, bear no more, I have long guessed how
matters were between you and Lord Fitzhenry, and still I have forborne.
I held my peace as long as I could; but my pride will not allow me to be
any longer silent. I will not be trampled upon; I cannot endure to see
the delight of my old age, my only child, destroyed by neglect and
unkindness. Lord Fitzhenry presumes upon his superior rank. He thinks he
may with impunity insult and break the heart of the humble banker’s
daughter. But his lordship is mistaken; I too have pride as well as he.
Curse on _his_ rank, curse on _your_ money; they have been the cause of
all this; but I will have redress.”

“Redress! Good God, what do you mean?” enquired Emmeline, terrified at
his words and manner.

“I will insist on an immediate separation; on a divorce, in short, for
the law will give it me.”

A scream of horror escaped from Emmeline’s heart at these words. “No
power on earth shall ever separate me from him,” she exclaimed, with the
wild energy of passion. “Oh! my dear father, be appeased; have patience
and all will be well.”

She had sunk on her knees, and, overcome with the variety of her
painfully contending feelings, her head grew giddy, her sobs choked her,
and she fell nearly senseless at Mr. Benson’s feet. Every attention of
doating fondness was lavished upon her. Before long, she became more
composed, and her parents, whose every feeling was centered in her,
seeing how weak she was, both in body and spirits, said no more, but
turned their whole endeavours towards cheering and restoring her;
avoiding, for the moment, every thing that could renew her sorrows.

After some little time had elapsed, as if by common consent, they all
forced themselves to talk on indifferent subjects, but, in the effort,
poor Emmeline’s lip often quivered. At dinner, she turned away her
heavy, sickened eye from the food before her; and when her father filled
her glass with wine, bidding her drink it, for that it would do her
good, and, assuming a gay manner, pledged her and drank to her health,
tears again rushed into her eyes, as she recollected the pride with
which he was always wont on such occasions to unite her husband’s name
with hers.

The next morning, resolving if possible still to deceive her parents,
and by assumed cheerfulness to do away the impression made upon their
minds the preceding evening, poor Emmeline entered the breakfast-room
with as composed a countenance as she could command, and even forced a
smile, when, as in former days, she went up to her father to claim his
parental kiss. Mr. Benson, however, did not raise his eyes towards her,
or even return the pressure of her hand, but in silence pointed to the
seat prepared for her. She looked at her mother, whose eyes were fixed
on the table before her, and she saw that they were red with crying.
Twice Emmeline endeavoured at conversation by making some remark on the
weather, but no answer was given to her. Mr. Benson’s attention seemed
entirely engrossed by the newspaper that lay beside him, his breakfast
remaining untouched.

Aware that something disagreeable must have happened from the disturbed
appearance of her father and mother, a thousand vague but dreadful
apprehensions soon took possession of Emmeline’s mind, and at last,
unable any longer to endure the state of alarm and suspense into which
her fears had thrown her, she suddenly seized her father’s arm,
entreating him for pity’s sake to tell her what had so discomposed him,
what had happened.

“You, Lady Fitzhenry, can better inform _us_ of that,” he coldly said,
as he put the paper into her hand, and pointed to the following
paragraph:

    “A singular fracas took place at the Opera on Saturday night;
    not being yet informed of the particulars, we forbear making any
    reflections. As it is a double intrigue, and therefore neither
    party can complain, it is impossible to say how the affair may
    end. The _chère amie_ of the noble lord is well known in the
    fashionable world both _abroad_ and at _home_; and it is not
    perhaps surprising that the neglected wife should have _pris son
    parti_, and found a champion to espouse her cause. He is said to
    be in the _diplomatic_ line, and _of course_ a particular friend
    of the husband. One rumour states the injured wife to have
    eloped—another that a duel has taken place. Certain it is that
    two carriages with the F—z—y arms were seen to drive furiously
    out of Grosvenor-street at different hours and in different
    directions on Sunday afternoon.”

Emmeline turned deadly pale as she read this cruel paragraph; but a
still more ghastly hue spread itself over her mother’s face as she
anxiously watched her daughter’s countenance, and fancied that in her
emotion she read confession of guilt.

There was a dead silence. Emmeline, entirely satisfied as to her own
perfect innocence, and horror-stricken by the latter part of the
paragraph relating to the duel, was occupied in dwelling on the
possibility of there being any foundation for the rumour; and her whole
mind was so engrossed by that one thought, the safety of Fitzhenry, that
she did not even think of exculpating herself from the charge. Indeed,
she had totally forgotten the presence even of her parents, when Mr.
Benson, striking his hand with violence on the table, in a voice of
agony exclaimed—

“Speak Emmeline, are you innocent? or am I for ever disgraced?”

Emmeline startled by her father’s vehemence, looked wildly at him for an
instant, as if not understanding his words.

“I see, but too plainly, how it is. Don’t speak, don’t speak,” he
continued quickly; and, covering his face with both his hands, he gave
way to the violence of his feelings.

Completely roused by the burst of passion in one so seldom moved to
tears, Emmeline threw herself on her knees beside him, and, endeavouring
to take hold of his hand, exclaimed,

“Oh, my father, what can all this mean? is it possible you can
suspect?—God knows how innocent I am.”

Mr. Benson, wiping away his tears, looked at her for an instant in
silence. “Repeat those blessed words again, child, for I must believe
you.”

“By the God of truth!” exclaimed Emmeline, as she clasped her hands with
fervency and fixed her eyes steadfastly on Mr. Benson, “I am innocent of
having, in thought, word, or deed, departed from the love and duty, I
swore to my husband at the altar. Alas!” added she, as she hid her face
in her father’s bosom, “I only love him too well, too entirely for my
happiness.” These last words became indistinct, and choked by her tears.

“Thank God, thank God!” repeated Mr. Benson, with a sort of hurried
nervousness of manner, as he kissed his daughter’s forehead: “I could
not have borne that; your dishonour I could not have borne, Emmy, it
would soon have brought me to my grave. I believe you, Emmeline, on my
honour I do; you never in your life deceived me; but what does that
cursed story mean?” pointing to the paragraph to which his mind seemed
again to have returned with doubt and anxiety.

“I will tell you all, as far as——” and Emmeline stopped short, for how
could she explain what had passed, without drawing on a necessary
confession of her whole sad story.

“No more concealments, Emmy, I will and must know all,” said Mr. Benson
sternly.

Emmeline looked at her father as if supplicating for pity.

“Spare her now Mr. Benson,” said her mother as she folded her in her
arms: “we have it from her own true lips, that she is blameless, and let
what will have happened, we can bear any thing now.”

“Bless you, bless you for believing me,” said Emmeline, as she threw her
arms round her mother’s neck in gratitude: “but,” added she, with a
melancholy and reproachful look, “my father does not, he still doubts
me.”

“No, my girl, indeed I don’t,” cried Mr. Benson: “do you think I would
call you my Emmy, and let you remain one instant under my roof if I
thought you were disgraced. On my honour, I believe you, but I am
fretted and unhappy. I have toiled for your happiness, and it has ended
in nothing but mortification; for I see my darling is not happy, which
is more than I can bear,” and tears once more rushed into his eyes. “And
who the deuce do they mean by their ‘diplomatic champion?’” added he,
again casting his eyes on the paragraph.

“The whole is an abominable falsehood,” said Emmeline, in a hurried
manner. “They mean Mr. Pelham, I suppose, for he was with me;” and she
reddened as she spoke, at the bare possibility of such an insinuation.
“Coming out of the opera-house last night, there was a battle between
the coachmen—and it seemed as if something disagreeable had passed
between Lord Fitzhenry and Mr. Pelham—but it must have been only a
misunderstanding—no one was to blame—only when I parted from them last
night, they certainly seemed much irritated against each other.”

“And have you not seen your husband since?” eagerly enquired Mrs.
Benson.

“No,” said Emmeline, in a low tone, and averting her head. Mr. Benson
gave a significant shrug of his shoulders.

“And pray what had you, and Mr. Pelham, and Lord Fitzhenry to do with
the fighting of the coachmen; and, above all, what in the name of
wonder, had his _chère amie_, as the idiots call her, to do with it at
all? whose carriage fought with yours? for I presume, you and your
husband were together; surely you can sit in the same coach, though you
can’t sleep in the same room?”

“I really can’t tell—it was all such a confusion,” replied Emmeline,
colouring deeply. “But, dear father, don’t waste time, but, for pity’s
sake, send some one to Grosvenor-street, and ask if all is well—and yet,
perhaps,” added she, the next minute, alarmed at the possible
consequences of her own suggestion, “perhaps it will be better not—it
must be all a foolish story.”

“I shall go myself to Lord Fitzhenry’s,” said Mr. Benson, after a
moment’s reflection.

“_You_ go?” exclaimed Emmeline, terrified—“indeed there is no
necessity—it is only a trifle—in fact nothing has occurred, only the
carriage——I assure you, Lord Fitzhenry will be quite surprised to see
you—perhaps displeased—indeed you had better not go.”

“I shall judge for myself,” said Mr. Benson, coldly. “I don’t believe
one word about the carriage story; your husband would not be such a fool
as to fight about a scratched panel; and as for his displeasure, I shall
care little for that, for he seems very little to care for mine.”

This intention of her father’s seriously alarmed Emmeline; for, in the
state of irritation, in which both he and Lord Fitzhenry then were, she
dreaded the result of their meeting; and, clinging to Mr. Benson, she
ejaculated—“Oh, then pray let me go with you!”

Brought up in the good old fashioned system of filial obedience and
dependence, Emmeline, although the object of the tenderest affection,
had no idea even now that she was a wife, of putting her will in
opposition to that of her parents, or of boldly declaring any
determination of her own. She could only entreat, and _that_ her
countenance did most eloquently, during the moment or two that now
passed before Mr. Benson answered her. At length, he consented,
saying—“Yes; I believe that will be best, for I shall by that means hear
both sides.”

These words raised fresh apprehensions in Emmeline’s mind, for she saw
that her father’s intention was to come to some explanation with her
husband; and good, even kind as she knew those intentions were, yet she
felt, that any interference on his part, particularly at that moment,
would only widen the breach between them, and make her situation worse,
by bringing matters to that crisis from which she shrank with dismay.
She, therefore, said every thing she could venture upon, to induce him
to desist; but her words seemed only to irritate him still more against
Lord Fitzhenry, and to make him the more resolved on seeking an
interview with him; so at last, finding how vain were all her arguments,
and that having settled the matter in his own mind, Mr. Benson would
listen to no excuse, no reason, that she could give for changing her
opinion so quickly, Emmeline gave up the point in despair, and, in a
short time, she and her father were on the road to town.

At first, the miles appeared to her to be endless, but, as they drew
near town, dreading the possible result of their visit to
Grosvenor-street, poor Emmeline was several times tempted to beg the
driver might slacken his pace, but she controlled her nervous agitation
as well as she could, and they drove on in silence, till they entered
London; when she suddenly seized Mr. Benson’s hand, saying, with a look
of entreaty—“If we see him, you will leave all to me,—indeed, he is no
way to blame, only a misunderstanding, which I shall soon be able to
clear up.”

“Ay, and it _shall_ be cleared up,” replied Mr. Benson. “If you, Lady
Fitzhenry, are content to let this vile slur remain on your reputation,
I am not, and I shall oblige those who can refute it, to do so. I shall
most certainly see Lord Fitzhenry, and I must from him get a better
explanation of all this strange business, than I can from you. My God!”
added he, after a moment’s pause, as if speaking to himself—“to think
that my daughter’s name should appear in a public paper, with such an
imputation attached to it! to think, that after all my labours, it
should have come to this!” And, after striking his cane several times
with impatience on the bottom of the carriage, he suddenly, as if he
thought greater speed would relieve his feelings, bade the coachman
drive faster.

This injunction was the means of soon bringing them into
Grosvenor-square; and poor Emmeline’s agitation became almost
unbearable. What was she going to learn? what was going to be her fate?
for on the next hour she felt that it depended. They drove up to the
door of her husband’s house—of her own home—and yet she shrunk back, in
dread and dismay. A hasty glance showed her, that all the shutters were
closed—and a cold, deadly sickness came over her. The servant
knocked—but no one answered—he knocked again, and rung; and at length
the porter appeared, and a parley ensued between him and Mr. Benson’s
servant.

Emmeline could endure the suspense no longer; and, with the paleness of
death on her face, grasping her father’s arm—“In pity!” she cried,
“speak to the man yourself.” Mr. Benson beckoned him to the carriage
window.

“I want to see Lord Fitzhenry,” said he. “Is he at home?”

“No, sir; neither my lord nor my lady are at home”—for Emmeline had so
shrunk to the back of the carriage, that the man did not see her.

“Is Lord Fitzhenry quite well?” rejoined Mr. Benson, not knowing very
well how to get at the information he wanted.

“Yes, sir! I believe so,” said the porter, apparently surprised at the
question. “His lordship went away yesterday afternoon; he did not leave
his room till late, but I did not hear that he was any ways ill; I
thought my lady had gone to Charlton.”

“Do you know where he is gone to?” continued Mr. Benson.

“No, I really can’t say; his lordship ordered post horses in a great
hurry, and the carriage was to take him up at some place in town, but I
really can’t tell where; but I will enquire in the house if any one
knows.”

“Did he leave word when he was to return?”

“No, my lord said nothing, and we do not expect him back for some days,
as he gave no orders.”

A new and appalling idea now flashed across Emmeline’s mind—could
Fitzhenry and Lady Florence have fled together! and, not content with
the entire possession of each other’s affections, could they have
determined by that open act, at once to rid themselves of the thraldom
of their respective marriages! There was nothing of which she could not
suspect Lady Florence; but her heart smote her for thus, even for an
instant, accusing Fitzhenry; and, shocked at her own surmises, she
hastily enquired whether Lord Fitzhenry had left no letter, no message
for her.

“Not that I knows of, my lady,” said the porter, bowing to Emmeline, and
evidently astonished at her question, as well as at her appearance, as
she had hitherto remained concealed behind Mr. Benson; “but I will go
and enquire.”

“This is all very strange,” muttered Mr. Benson to himself, while he was
gone; “I can’t make it out for the life of me.”

As for poor Emmeline, she was totally unable to express, or even to form
an opinion; so many fearful apprehensions succeeded each other in her
mind. After an interval of time, which appeared to her endless, the man
returned with a note in his hand.

“I can hear of no letter, my lady; but this note the housekeeper found
in your ladyship’s room; perhaps it is what you mean.”

Emmeline eagerly seized it; but what was her mortification on finding it
was her own note to Fitzhenry, with the seal still unbroken. In the
confusion of her mind, she could not recollect whether, on leaving home
the preceding day, she had given any orders about it: if she had, she
must conclude, that Fitzhenry, occupied by other objects, had neglected,
perhaps scorned, to read it. But at all events, as that note was unread,
he must have gone from home in the full conviction that she, on her
part, had left it in open, declared war.

Quite overcome by the combination of distressing circumstances in which
she was placed, after tearing her ill-fated note in a thousand pieces,
with a vehemence of impatience very foreign to her nature, Emmeline
again sunk back in the carriage, to conceal her disordered state from
the servants. There was a moment’s pause. At length Mr. Benson,
enquiring where Mr. Pelham lived, desired the coachman to drive to his
house. Emmeline drew down the blind, spoke not a word, but seemed to
give herself up to her fate in despair.

When they reached the end of the street to which they had been directed,
Mr. Benson stopped the carriage, and saying he would return to her
directly, got out. He was some time absent: when he returned, he
evidently was endeavouring to maintain a composure which he did not
feel.

“Mr. Pelham has likewise left London,” said he. “He too went away
yesterday evening with post horses——very strange; but, I suppose, some
junket out of town,” added he, making an awkward attempt at
cheerfulness. The step of the carriage was let down for him. “Hang me!”
continued Mr. Benson, “if I know what to do next, or where to go to. To
drive after them would really be a wild-goose chase; for the chances are
a hundred to one against our taking the same road; for the plague is,
that one don’t know at all where they are gone to. Mr. Pelham’s
servants, too, can’t tell where their master went—a parcel of stupid,
outlandish boobies, that can’t speak Christian-like language.”

And apparently much distressed and perplexed, Mr. Benson, with one foot
on the step of the carriage, looked anxiously up and down the street, as
if in the hope of seeing some one, or something, that could suggest an
idea to him.

“Let us return to Charlton, directly,” said Emmeline, in a low, broken
voice; for a new apprehension had entered her mind. When she reflected
on the gentle nature of Pelham’s temper, on his devoted affection for
Fitzhenry, and adverted to the falsehood of the newspaper story in the
part relating to herself, her mind began to be much easier with regard
to the report of the duel. As to Fitzhenry’s sudden departure from town,
it was certainly strange; and in spite of her endeavours to combat the
idea, she could not help interpreting it in a way the most agonizing to
her feelings: but still it was just possible that even there she might
be mistaken; and if so, nothing would be more likely to incense
Fitzhenry against her, or to widen the breach between them, than finding
she was following his steps like a spy; and that even Mr. Benson took
upon himself to enquire into his actions. The instant this idea entered
her mind, her whole anxiety was to return to Charlton, and there wait
patiently till time explained this alarming business; and a very few
hours must, she thought, relieve her at least from suspense: she
therefore again entreated that they might go back to Charlton
immediately.

Mr. Benson paused for a minute or two, as if ruminating in his own mind
on some method of obtaining information; but none occurring, he, in a
dejected tone, bade the servants return home. The coachman turned his
horses’ heads, and the father and daughter travelled the nine weary
miles back to Charlton in total silence.

Mrs. Benson, who had been anxiously awaiting their return, soon saw she
had little good to learn; and forbore to question Emmeline; but, after
putting into her hand a letter that had come for her during her absence,
went to learn what had passed from Mr. Benson.

The letter was from Mr. Pelham: it contained these words, and was dated
Sunday evening.

    “I cannot, as I had hoped and intended, see you to-day, nor
    indeed to-morrow. I find Fitzhenry has left town, and I am about
    to follow him. Depend on me for doing all that friendship can
    do, to restore him to you. So I still say, ‘be of good cheer.’
    As soon as Fitzhenry and I have met, I am sure I shall be able
    to bring you good news. By Wednesday, I think, you may depend on
    seeing me; or, at all events, on hearing from me; and I don’t
    despair of even bringing Fitzhenry with me.”

This letter, meant to express comfort and hope, conveyed the very
reverse to Emmeline’s sick mind; she had now no doubt but that Fitzhenry
and Lady Florence had left town together, and that if Pelham attempted
at any remonstrance or interference, however mild and sensible, still
every thing was to be feared from his meeting with her husband under
such circumstances. That she had parted with Fitzhenry for ever, seemed
now but too certain. There was a mystery in Pelham’s letter that
evidently showed he had something to conceal, and that could only be the
most dreadful of all intelligence to her. Poor Emmeline raised her
streaming eyes to heaven, while she clasped her hands in the energy of
suffering, but not one prayer could she utter. Alas! what had she to
ask? Could she wish again to behold him who scorned, who loathed, who
had, in short, fled from her? And could she wish to cease to love him?
What affectionate mind but recoils with horror from the dreary thought?
She might, indeed, pray for release from an existence which was become
insupportable to her! And, perhaps, in the rebellion of a young and
suffering heart, she did give utterance to the impatient wish. But let
mortals adore the Merciful Power, who, pitying the weakness of
short-sighted humanity, marks not down those prayers. It is the first
pang of severe suffering that wrings them from us; in time, we learn to
endure; and, in the evening of a chequered life we look back, perhaps,
on those very moments of sorrow with the greatest gratitude, and say
with the poet——

           “Amid my list of blessings infinite,
            Stands this the foremost—that my heart has bled.”


The next morning the following paragraph, which appeared in the
newspaper, seemed very much to relieve Mr. Benson; but, if possible, it
only increased Emmeline’s apprehensions.

    “It is with sincere pleasure that we can confidently contradict
    a report in our last, respecting a certain noble pair in
    Grosvenor-Street, in so far at least as the fair fame of _one_
    of the ladies is concerned. Lady F——y, we understand, merely
    left town in order to pay a visit to her father at Ch—l—n, where
    she now is. A legal separation between the parties may however
    be anticipated, as it is certain that the noble Lord has also
    most abruptly left home, and, it is whispered, not _alone_.
    Rumour also states that the diplomatic friend has followed the
    fugitives, in order, if possible, to prevent the scandal of a
    public eclat.”

Mr. Benson’s feelings had been so entirely engrossed by that part of the
first newspaper story, alluding to his daughter’s supposed levity of
conduct, and his mind was so relieved by this public and honourable
acquittal, that he might have overlooked the rest of the paragraph just
mentioned, had not Emmeline’s look of misery reminded him, that though
that unfounded subject for distress was removed, all her but too real
causes for anxiety remained.

Tuesday passed without any intelligence of any kind reaching them.
Wednesday at length arrived, and during its heavy hours, the
perturbation of Emmeline’s agitated mind was painful to witness. For on
what Pelham was that day to impart, she felt her future fate in life
depended.

With one so young, and unused to sorrow, hope still will linger, and
even though against her reason and her conviction, the concluding words
in Pelham’s letter sometimes for an instant caused a thrill of pleasure
to her heart, and she gave way to delightful anticipations. Fitzhenry
might have mistaken _her_ feelings towards him: she was aware that
latterly she had given way to irritation in her manner. Pelham might let
him into the real state of her affections, for she well knew that that
friend had read her heart right, and, perhaps, when her husband knew
all, his better feelings would prevail, and would restore him to her.

But when Emmeline’s imagination had carried her thus far, the chilling
conviction of the truth came at once to destroy these dreams of
happiness, and make place for despair. Thus, in all the miserable
agitation of doubt and anxiety, she passed the day listening to every
sound, starting at the noise of every bell, and the opening of every
door; and so wild were sometimes her fantasies, that she more than once
thought she heard her husband’s step on the stairs, and his voice in the
passage that led to her room. But the day passed, and no one came.

Late in the evening, when she had nearly given up all hope, she heard
the door bell ring. She started up—every pulse throbbed—unable to move
from her place, she remained breathless, watching the door: it opened,
but no Fitzhenry appeared; and the servant entering, brought her a
letter. It was not Fitzhenry’s hand-writing. A cold tremor crept over
her; the room swam round her, and the letter fell from her hands. Her
mother caught it up, and seeing how unable her daughter was herself to
read it, and dreading the effects of such violent agitation on her
already weakened frame, she ventured to break the seal, and hastily
glancing her eyes over its contents. “My child,” said she, taking
Emmeline’s icy hand, “it is from your friend Mr. Pelham. He says, he
could not, as he meant, come to you; that pressing public affairs oblige
him to return immediately to Vienna. He is already on his way to Dover.
Your husband is quite well—but——”

“But what?” exclaimed Emmeline, with a look of horror.

“He too is gone abroad.”

“Gone!” repeated Emmeline wildly; “then it is all over:” and she was
carried senseless to her bed.

Her wretched parents wept and prayed by her; for hers was a sorrow to
which no earthly comfort could be given. In a few hours, however,
composure—that dreadful composure of exhausted nature—returned, and the
first minute she could read, she asked for Mr. Pelham’s letter. It
contained these words:

    “You will be surprised, and I fear painfully so, when you hear
    we are leaving England. Some unforeseen public affairs oblige me
    instantly to return to the Continent; and, I am going to take
    Fitzhenry with me: but, for God’s sake, keep up your spirits; he
    is well, and we have had a great deal of conversation. In time,
    you shall know all; and very soon, I am sure, he will be
    restored to you; but my poor friend’s mind is at present in a
    state approaching to delirium; and we must be patient with him.

    “Dearest Lady Fitzhenry, I would not for the world give you
    false hopes; but, I still repeat, that all will be well; you
    deserve to be happy, and heaven will take care that you shall be
    so. Fitzhenry has been infatuated, blinded, deceived, every way.
    But his eyes are now opened, and, (not for the world would I
    deceive you, even to give you one moment of false happiness,)
    trust me, he admires and loves you; I was certain such
    excellence could not long be thrown away upon one so fitted to
    appreciate it. The fatal madness which has hitherto rendered him
    insensible to his real happiness, is now at an end—on my honour
    it is.

    “I have time for no more; the carriage is at the door; I am only
    waiting for Fitzhenry; he knows I am writing to you; you shall
    ere long hear from me again.”

Emmeline hardly knew what to conclude from this letter; she read it over
and over. Sometimes she interpreted its contents favourably to her
feelings; but, in general, the impression it left was not that of hope.
She believed Pelham, when he told her that Fitzhenry’s connexion with
Lady Florence was at an end; she must believe such solemn assurances;
but what had she gained? Her rival, no longer the cause, still her
husband fled from her. What could that mean, but that still she had to
encounter settled, determined aversion? for he was leaving England
without one word, one attempt at reconciliation—and with no time even
named for his return. In short, in spite of Pelham’s encouragement, she
felt but too well convinced their separation was for ever.

Sorrow sunk deeply into Emmeline’s heart; but, for her parent’s sake,
she resolved to exert herself. She left her room, agreed to go out into
the fresh air; acquiesced in whatever was proposed to her; forced
herself to converse on indifferent subjects; and even sometimes
endeavoured at cheerfulness. But such exertions could not deceive. The
“sickness of hope deferred,” preyed on her health; she grew daily
thinner; and her cheeks were either deadly pale, or flushed with the
deepest feverish crimson.

Poor Mrs. Benson gazed at her in silent anxiety. There was their
Emmeline again returned to them, to the same place, the same quiet home,
avocations and duties she used to perform; but, how changed! Formerly,
she was their joy, their pride: to look on her laughing eyes, and on her
fresh smooth cheek, had been enough to make them happy; but now the
sight was misery. Mr. Benson also was changed. Though sometimes, in the
kind endeavour to cheer his melancholy companions, he attempted to
resume his usual loquacity, and even tried his bad jokes; yet, as they
no longer proceeded from an exuberantly happy heart, they had lost their
only merit; and, seeing how ill they in general succeeded, and that his
intended wit and mirth oftener forced tears than smiles from his
suffering daughter, he at last gave up the attempt entirely, and seemed
to resign himself to the sadness which oppressed him. He appeared also
to have entirely lost his usual bustling activity. He often stood for
hours at the window, with his hands in his pockets, staring at the blue
sky and green grass, objects which he had never been seen to gaze at
before; or, sitting with the newspaper in his hand, reading over and
over the same page, almost unconscious of the words before him; for now,
neither public news, nor even the price of stocks, seemed to have power
to arrest his attention.

Fitzhenry was never named among them, nor that painful subject any way
alluded to.

One day, however, that Mr. Benson and Emmeline were alone together,
after the former had, as was now usual to him, sat a long time silent,
he suddenly looked up, and, addressing her in the decided tone of one
who has well considered the matter of which he is about to treat—

“Emmy!” said he—for he had now quite left off calling her Lady
Fitzhenry, which he had, with apparently proud satisfaction after her
marriage, always done—“Emmy, I have indulged your fancies all this
time—I have complied with your request—I have said nothing—done nothing.
In short, to please you, I have, in truth, made but a silly figure; but
this cannot go on—it is impossible—you cannot yourself wish it.
Something decided must be settled between you and your husband.”

Emmeline’s pale cheek grew still paler, and, in answer, she put into her
father’s hand Mr. Pelham’s last letter. He read it over and over and
over several times, looked at the date, the signature, the direction,
even with the precaution and accuracy of business, and then returning
it—

“I can’t make head or tail of it. Lord Fitzhenry and you, Emmy, and your
diplomatic champion, are all beyond my comprehension. I declare I don’t
know what any of you would be at. If your husband has turned off his
kept mistress, as I suppose he has by this, (shame on him ever to have
had one—and another man’s wife, too, into the bargain,) why, now the
coast is clear, why can’t he come and fetch you, his lawful wife, home,
and live respectably, and be at least decently civil to you. What the
deuce is he gone abroad for? unless indeed it is to look out for some
new lady, being, I suppose, tired of the old one—for such madams, I
believe, abound at Paris. In short, Emmy, I will not let this sort of
thing go on any longer. I will give you one month; and if during that
time, your husband makes no advances towards a reconciliation, I will
then come forward. Surely, Emmeline, your own pride must make you wish
that I should.”

“Pride!” repeated Emmeline, mournfully. “Oh! my father, what has pride
to do with affection?”

“What!” rejoined her father, warmly, “can you tamely submit to be
insulted and neglected as you are? And pray what has affection to do
with the business? when this man don’t seem to care one farthing for
you; and, now indeed that the truth comes out, it seems he never did. A
pretty object for affection truly. I thought you had better feelings.
Fool! idiot! that I was,” continued he, striking his forehead, “to be so
proud of this marriage. Could I have guessed how matters would have
turned out, I had rather have seen you the wife of the lowest clerk in
my banking-house, than that of this Lord Fitzhenry, or any other lord in
Christendom with his vile paramour. But who would have thought it of
him? such a fine young man as he was. I always liked the lad; there was
something so frank and manly about him. Do you remember those balls we
used to give on your birth-day, Emmy, when he always danced with you, as
a thing of course? How you used to tear about the room together like a
couple of madcaps, looking so happy! Then, when he took leave of you
going abroad—Lord, I remember it as if it was but yesterday—he kissed
you and called you his little wife. My silly heart jumped with joy at
those words. And then he sent you that watch which I see still hanging
round your neck. I thought all that promised so well. Who could have
dreamt of his turning out as he has done? And even since your marriage
at Arlingford, how civil and pleasant he was to me, and to you even
seemingly. I really can hardly now bring myself to believe any one so
young can be so deceitful and hardened!”

How long Mr. Benson might have gone on thus giving vent to the thoughts
which apparently now constantly engrossed his mind, it is impossible to
say; for, kind-hearted and affectionate as he was, he had so little
notion of the nature of love, of the refinement of poor Emmeline’s
passion, and of the feelings of a lacerated heart that recoils from
every touch, that he had no idea he was running daggers into hers; till,
no longer able to endure the torture of his words, and grasping his arm
in agony, “Oh, my father!” she exclaimed, “do not talk of him.”

“Well, well,” said he, patting her hand as he looked with concern on her
suffering countenance, “if it displeases you, we need not talk of the
matter just now; but remember, Emmy, one month more, and I _will_ have
my own way in this business.”


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER IV.

                “Un siècle d’attente—un jour de bonheur.”


TEN days of the month passed, and still no intelligence of any sort
about Lord Fitzhenry reached Charlton.

Emmeline saw his and Pelham’s name in the papers among those who had
crossed the water to Calais; but she heard no more. This strange silence
seemed to confirm her husband’s hostile determination with regard to
her, and to fix her future fate. She uttered no complaint, shed no
tears, was silent, and resigned, and appeared to be some figure wound up
to perform the ordinary actions of life without taking any part in them,
so still was her composure. But sometimes, when her mother looked at
her, pressed her hand, or kissed her pale cheek, then, a momentary
convulsive sob would escape from her oppressed bosom, and a solitary
burning tear would steal down her face.

There is a dead pause in affliction which is dreadful. As long as we
have to act, to exert ourselves, even though those exertions may be
painful, still they are more bearable than sitting down quietly with
grief, without any thing to look to. When day after day passes the same,
and when at last from the sameness of our thoughts and feelings, even
suffering has no longer power to affect us, our tears cease to flow,
though the heart within is breaking.

The dreary desolation of her future existence, from which, appalled at
the prospect, she at first shrunk with horror, now constantly occupied
her, to the exclusion of every other thought, and of every ray of hope.
A short twelve-month back, knowing no felicity beyond loving, and being
beloved by her fond parents, she was at peace, and happy—now, new
feelings, new powers of heart, unknown to herself before, had been
awakened in her, and she hated herself when she felt—(and she could not
help feeling it) that not all their kindness, all their partial
affection, could soothe and occupy a heart which _love_, love for
Fitzhenry had now so entirely engrossed. Love is a draught of so
inebriating a quality, that it is long before one who has known its
delirious power can (even when that delirium ceases) return satisfied to
the sober feelings of friendship. The sun which had warmed and illumined
life is set; and all other near and dear affections, are as the quiet
cold rays of moonlight to the bereaved soul which shivers beneath their
chilling influence.

How often when endeavouring to soothe those who are writhing under such
sorrows, are the affections of parent and kindred offered as
compensations. But such comfort, sickening the heart at its own
ingratitude, only adds to its misery. Time alone, the sobering influence
of years, can heal such wounds, or rather skin them over, for the scar
remains, till at last it thickens and hardens, rendering it insensible
to every impression; but is that happiness? When a sacred voice
announced, that “a man shall leave father and mother, and cleave to his
wife”—it plainly told how overwhelming such feelings were intended to
be; and if allowed, nay, commanded in man, how much more in woman, whose
existence is made up of the affections of the heart!

Poor Emmeline endeavoured to resume her usual occupations, but in vain.
She tried to read—it was impossible; once or twice, in the wish to pass
the heavy hours, she proposed reading aloud to her mother, as she had
formerly done. Her lips mechanically uttered the words; but, at a pause,
Mrs. Benson making some remark on the book, Emmeline startled at the
sound of her voice—looked vacantly at her, apparently unconscious of
what she alluded to. The mother, suppressing a sigh, endeavoured at some
explanation, but seeing how hopeless was the attempt to fix her
daughter’s mind on any subject, she quietly closed the book, saying,
“Emmy, my love, we will continue that some other time, for I think
reading hurts your eyes.”

Emmeline gave her a meanless, melancholy smile in answer, and sat in
silence; her eyes fixed on the volume, as if even unconscious that their
lecture was over. Lost as she was in thought, it would perhaps have been
difficult for her to have told what those thoughts were, all was so
vague; and on no one circumstance in her situation, could she rest her
mind with expectation of any sort. Even religion could bring her little
comfort. Had Fitzhenry, penitent towards heaven and herself, been taken
from her by death, she would have found peace for her thoughts in piety.
She could have said to her widowed heart—we shall meet again. But that
way, Emmeline, shuddering, dared not look. Often too, she aggravated her
distress by reproaching herself for having brought sorrow and melancholy
to that home, which had been always hitherto one of content and
cheerfulness; and she sometimes thought it was her duty to leave it, and
relieve her parents of her painful presence—but whither could she go?
was Arlingford still her home? could she venture to return there?

Thus, day after day sadly passed without her being able to form any plan
for herself or the future, till she was one morning roused from the
state of stupor into which she had sunk, by Lord Arlingford being
suddenly announced.

Since the marriage, for which both he and Mr. Benson had been so equally
anxious, there had been little intercourse between them. Lord Arlingford
having obtained his object, and secured Emmeline’s fortune, he was not
particularly anxious to keep up any thing like intimacy with Mr. Benson,
whose honest, blunt vulgarity, did not at all suit the refined elegance
of his own manners and habits.

Emmeline was with her mother alone when Lord Arlingford entered. She
turned deadly pale; for, in a minute, a thousand apprehensions as to the
possible purport of his visit occurred to her; and, hardly knowing in
what manner to meet him, she remained in her place, with the feelings of
a criminal awaiting the sentence of his judge. But such alarming fears
were soon dissipated—his manner was more than usually kind—she was his
“dear Emmeline, his pretty daughter.” He quite overcame Mrs. Benson with
civilities, and was so very particular and anxious in his enquiries
after Mr. Benson, and whether he could not have the pleasure of seeing
him, that at last Emmeline thought it best to go and inform her father
of his visit, hoping that Lord Arlingford’s conciliatory manner might
pacify his justly indignant feelings. When she told him who was in the
drawing-room with her mother,——

“I know it—I know it quite well child,” said he, impatiently; “you need
not have come for me; why did you not say I was out, or busy, or sick? I
am sure you may say the last with truth, for I am not half the man I
used to be. I don’t want to see him; he is only come to try and palaver
me over; and if I do go down to him, what in the world can we say to
each other? Your marriage is the only thing we have talked about these
last ten years, and the less now said of that the better, I am sure: and
I am sore here,” said the good old citizen, seizing on his waistcoat,
and rubbing it across his breast; “and I don’t want him to make matters
worse. I wish his lordship had staid at home; for what the deuce can he
be come here for?”

“For no unkind purpose, I am sure,” said Emmeline, wishing to pacify her
father—“for his manner to me is more than usually affectionate. For my
sake, dear father, come down to him, and be cordial to him,” said she,
grasping his hand with fervency, while her imploring eyes, fixed on his
face, spoke all the feelings of heart.

“You are a silly girl, Emmy,” said her father: “you have no proper
pride. This abominable husband of yours has made a perfect fool of you;
but go away to the drawing-room; say I will be down directly. Plague on
him, he has turned me quite topsy-turvy.”

Emmeline returned to Lord Arlingford, and was happy to find him and her
mother conversing on indifferent subjects. In nervous agitation, she
seated herself by them, listening with painful anxiety for her father’s
approach—while her eyes and ears were fixed on Lord Arlingford, eagerly
watching for every look, every tone, that bore the slightest resemblance
to his son. It is hard to say, whether there is most pain or pleasure in
such recollections of a beloved object, but who can help catching at
them? A glance, a word will sometimes make the heart start from a stupor
of grief to which it had been reduced, and give it a passing sensation
of something we, at the moment, mistake for happiness. So it was with
Emmeline; and, lost in such thoughts, she sat gazing on the still
handsome countenance of Lord Arlingford, till, hearing her father’s
step, she hastily rose, and walked towards the window, to conceal her
nervous apprehensions as to the result of their meeting.

Mr. Benson entered the room with a knit brow and both hands in his
pockets; but Lord Arlingford’s decided resolution to meet him cordially,
at last forced one hand out of its repulsive retreat.

“I am glad to find our Emmeline looking better than I expected,” said
Lord Arlingford, a little at a loss for a subject to begin with—the
coldness of Mr. Benson’s look and manner having rather disconcerted him.
“I heard she had left town on account of her health, the heat having
been too much for her.”

“I don’t know what your lordship expected,” said Mr. Benson, surlily,
“but Lady Fitzhenry can scarcely look worse than she does.”

Lord Arlingford not seeming to heed the incivility of his answer,
continued—“Ernest, too, did well to leave London, for he knocked himself
up in the House of Commons. No constitution can stand it; and I was
quite glad when I heard he had obtained _leave_ of _absence_ to take a
little trip on the continent, with his friend Mr. Pelham,”—and Lord
Arlingford glanced at Emmeline, with a look which meant to express
gallant pleasantry, but the anxiety which accompanied it, was very
perceptible.

Mr. Benson cleared his throat—seemed beating the time of some tune on
his knee, and, after a moment’s pause, said: “In my time, husbands and
wives took those little trips together; but I presume that is no longer
the fashion; at least, not at the west end of the town.”

Lord Arlingford made no reply—but, turning to Emmeline—“I suppose you
can hardly have heard from our travellers yet; that lazy boy, Ernest,
has not written to me one word since he went. Indeed, it was the
newspapers that first informed me of his departure; but, in truth, I
believe the wind has been directly contrary for packets coming over. I
never remember, at this time of the year, such a continuation of high
winds; and those diplomatic people always travel _ventre à terre_, in
order, I suppose, to give a vast opinion of their importance; so we must
not be too severe on Fitzhenry.”

Emmeline tried to speak; her nervous lips moved, but not a word could
she articulate; and her mother, wishing to change the subject, made some
remarks on the freshness and beauty of the country.

“Yes, indeed it is particularly beautiful just now,” said Arlingford;
“and I do wonder how people can remain in town as they do; however,
numbers have followed our wise example, and I thought the streets looked
very dull and empty to-day, as I passed through. I suppose, Lady
Fitzhenry, you have no thoughts of returning to Grosvenor-Street, while
Ernest is away. I dare say he would not trust you in the gay world of
London without him,” added he laughing.

Emmeline, without raising her eyes from the carpet, on which they had
been fixed, replied, that she meant to remain at Charlton some time
longer.

There was a dead pause. Poor Mrs. Benson was painfully occupied in
observing her daughter; and Mr. Benson seemed resolved on avoiding every
thing like advances to his visitor, who, at last, was again forced to
start a new subject. Taking, therefore, a desperate resolution to come
at once to the point, and ascertain how matters were likely to be
between him and the Benson family, or rather, between his son and
daughter-in-law, he said, “the principal object of my visit to-day, was
to try and persuade you all three to come and pay me a visit at
Wimbledon. I am now quite alone, and it would really be a charity”—and
he addressed himself particularly to Mr. Benson.

“You know I am a man of business, my lord,” said he dryly—“my time is
little at my own disposal. I cannot at present absent myself from home;
and as for Emmeline, I do not think she is just now in a state to make
any visits.”

“But, coming to me,” rejoined Lord Arlingford, with most determined
civility and good humour, “would only be exchanging one home for
another. My dear Emmeline, will you not indulge me?”

Emmeline made some answer, but her words were unintelligible. She saw,
every minute, that Mr. Benson’s temper was rising, and she shook from
head to foot.

“Well, you will think of it, and let me know when you feel inclined to
come,” said Lord Arlingford, seeing it was useless to endeavour to press
the matter any further—“and, perhaps, if we put it off a little, Mr. and
Mrs. Benson will be able to accompany you.”

Mr. Benson made no answer; he had left his seat, and was restlessly
fidgeting about the room. “So it shall remain that you write to me, and
name your own day,” added Lord Arlingford, rising.

“Yes, your lordship will shortly hear from me,” said Mr. Benson, with a
meaning, in his tone and manner, that Emmeline understood but too well;
and, unasked, he rung the bell.

“Well, God bless you, my fair Emmeline,” said Lord Arlingford, kissing
her on both cheeks, with a sort of flirting gallantry of manner that was
so habitual to him, that neither age nor the infirmities of sickness had
altered it, and which he maintained even with his daughter-in-law. “Make
haste and recover the roses which, I must confess, the dissipation of
London has a little _flétri_, that Ernest may find you in bloom and
beauty on his return; and we must mutually let each other know when we
hear from him; I am the most interested in the bargain, as I think we
can guess who will have the first intelligence.”

Again Lord Arlingford forced Mr. Benson’s reluctant hand into his, and
overcoming Mrs. Benson with civil speeches, went to his carriage. Mr.
Benson constrained himself so far as to accompany his visitor to the
hall-door.

“By the bye, my dear Benson,” said Lord Arlingford, stepping back just
as he was entering the carriage, “when you do come, you shall find my
horses to meet you in London, for it is too far to come the whole way
with your own, and mine have positively nothing to do, so that it will
be a kindness to give them a little exercise.”

“Your lordship is very kind,” said the banker, with an expression of
irony, and ill concealed, offended pride on his countenance, “_whenever_
I do visit you, I will certainly claim your obliging offer.”

After Lord Arlingford had driven off, all remained for some time silent;
at length Mr. Benson muttered to himself, “I see through it all—I am not
the fool he takes me for—I am not to be coaxed by a few civil speeches
from a lord into mean forbearance. A fortnight more, and I shall most
assuredly visit his lordship, and he shall see whom he has to deal with.
_You_, Emmeline, I dare say, would wish to go and curry favour with him,
that he may speak a word in your favour to his precious son, and you
may, if you please; but I’ll be d—d if I do, till it is to tell him a
bit of my mind, and inform him, in pretty plain terms, that you and your
husband are two, and that the law will give us redress.”

And so saying, Mr. Benson left the room more irritated in temper than
Emmeline had ever seen him. Her head fell on her hands, and her
long-stifled feelings burst forth.

“Bear up, dearest Emmy,” said her mother, endeavouring to soothe her;
“surely this visit of Lord Arlingford’s must, in many ways, give you
comfort. He never would have come unless he had known that all was
likely soon to be explained, and to end well between you and your
husband.”

Emmeline shook her head. “You don’t know them as I do. No two beings can
be so different, can act on such different motives, as Lord Arlingford
and——Fitzhenry.” At that name, that beloved name, for the first time for
long uttered by herself, she sobbed as if her heart would break. “And
then my father,” she continued, “he terrifies me. Oh! that he could,
that he would for my sake, be more patient, more conciliatory! He talks,
too, always of pride, and forgets that one can have none where one loves
as I do. Oh! if I could but see _him_ once again!” she exclaimed,
clasping her hands, “I believe I could on my knees entreat of him to be
kind to me, to love me—I am so very miserable; and yet when I was with
him, when I saw him every day, I was cold and repulsive, I know I was; I
believe I was the most to blame. I dare say I could have won upon his
kindness had I acted differently; for he is so kind to every body, every
thing—but me. It must have been all my fault.”

Thus did poor Emmeline comfort herself by voluntary self-accusation,
rather than impute blame to him she worshipped.

After the agitation occasioned by Lord Arlingford’s visit had subsided,
the family-party at Charlton returned to their former melancholy
composure. Day after day still passed, and no letter came; no
intelligence reached them. Every ray of hope now vanished; all
intercourse between Emmeline and the being on whom her existence hung,
seemed now at an end for ever. Her father never alluded to the subject;
but she had every reason to think that he still kept to his resolution
of demanding an explanation; and indeed their formal and total
separation seemed now almost unavoidable. Even Pelham, her best friend,
seemed to have forgotten her; and thus deserted, the few past months of
her life, during which all the feelings of her heart had been roused,
and a new existence had been opened to her, seemed a dream of delirium.
All had vanished. Apparently also neglected by that gay world which so
lately courted her with all its most intoxicating blandishments, the
admired, flattered Lady Fitzhenry, had again sunk into Emmeline Benson,
and was living in all the retired concealment of guilt, without one
fault, one folly to be laid to her charge.

Perhaps some of her fashionable friends when they chanced to drive
through Grosvenor-street, and when their attention was attracted by the
closed windows of Lord Fitzhenry’s house, at that season of the year
when every open London balcony is gay with dear-bought sooty flowers,
might, as they cast up their eyes on the deserted habitation, wonder
what had become of its inmates, and what might be the most like truth of
the many stories which were for some days circulated about them.

But after those few days, the daily business of amusement, and some new
tale of scandal, soon superseded that of the Fitzhenrys; their vacated
places were soon filled up at those meetings of pleasure to which they
had been invited; and _he_ was allowed quietly to prosecute his journey
on the Continent, and _she_ to drag on her melancholy existence within
nine miles of all her former associates, unmolested and unthought of.
Who then would sacrifice happiness or comfort to the opinion of the
world? Often the sacrifice of a whole life to the idle talk of a day!

One evening, when the Benson family were as usual sitting together in
mournful silence, which was only at times broken by some forced remark
from Mrs. Benson, as she sat dismally at her work, her husband having
had recourse to his usual amusement, the newspapers, the latter looking
suddenly towards Emmeline, said: “At last I see the abominable west wind
has changed, and has allowed vessels to get across the Channel: no less
than four French mails are due. Emmy, dear girl, cheer up,” added he,
patting her cheek as he spoke; “there is no saying what news these mails
may bring, for I dreamt last night——”

Mr. Benson was here interrupted in his intended story by a loud ringing
at the door-bell; he started up and hurried out of the room. No one
spoke, but all had the same idea—all fancied it could only be Lord
Fitzhenry. Mrs. Benson laid down her work, and moved towards the hall.
Emmeline alone sat immoveable. Her father was at the house-door, and
opened it before any servant could reach it. She heard the trampling of
a horse on the threshold—heard a voice in brief communication with him.
A footstep approached the room—she fixed her eyes wildly on the door,
scarcely able to breathe. But again she had to endure the torture of
disappointment—Mr. Benson entered alone, with a letter in his hand,
brought, he said, by a man on horseback, who had orders to deliver it
with all speed. The letter was for Emmeline, and the direction was in
Pelham’s hand-writing. She hastily broke the seal, and while every pulse
in her heart and in her head throbbed, she read these words:

    “You would have heard from us before, but Fitzhenry has been
    ill—indeed is so still. We are here at Paris delayed on our
    journey. If you could, (I need hardly add, if you would,) I
    should wish you to set off immediately, on receiving this, to
    join us. Trust me, I would urge nothing that I was not certain
    was for your and your husband’s _mutual_ good. At Dover you will
    find a vessel ready to bring you over, and my own courier to
    accompany you, who will prevent all delays and difficulties.
    Lose no time. Fitzhenry has had a most violent and alarming
    fever; but to-day, I think, there is some decided amendment—the
    medical people now are sanguine. God bless you.

                                                        “G. PELHAM.”

Emmeline held out the letter to her father, while her full heart
relieved itself by tears; when he had read it, without looking at her,
he said: “Well, how do you mean to act?”

“How!” said Emmeline, breathless with agitation, “why set off directly.”

“I don’t know that I shall agree to that,” answered Mr. Benson, with the
same forced _sang froid_. “In this business you are not fit to judge for
yourself, and I must consider for you.”

Emmeline grasped her father’s arm, endeavouring to catch his averted
eyes: “Dear father! I think you have never yet had reason to doubt my
obedience to your will, so you must now forgive me for saying, that no
power on earth shall prevent my going to my husband. My only chance for
happiness in this world, duty, every thing, in short, calls me to him.
Do not, I entreat, forbid me, for I could not obey you.”

“But,” rejoined Mr. Benson, rather impatiently, “it is not your husband
that sends for you. Mr. Pelham does not even say that he knows of his
writing to you; and I am sure he would make the very best of the matter,
for he seems to be a kind, friendly sort of man.”

“Indeed he is,” answered Emmeline; “and indeed I can trust to him. He
would not have written for me had he not been sure it was _his_ wish.
Dearest father, I must, I will set off directly; and do not let me go
with the pain of your displeasure.”

Mrs. Benson joined her arguments to Emmeline’s entreaties, bringing in,
with excusable artifice, something about the duty and devotion of a
wife, till, at last, Mr. Benson seemed somewhat moved; and a glance
which he caught of Emmeline’s face, crimsoned with agitation and
animated with painful anxiety, completely overcoming his intended
firmness, he opened his arms to his trembling daughter: “Well, well, you
women always get the better, always make fools of us men. The truth is,
I am heartily tired of your dismal face, Emmy, and of all this weeping
and wailing—that is the truth of it; so e’en take your own way, so that
we may be all happy again. But I can tell you, positively you shall not
go alone, child; at all events, I _will_ go with you to Dover.”

“But directly, dear father—no delay—the happiness or misery of my life
may depend on an hour—now, this very night, let me set off.”

“Oh! as for that, I am always for dispatch, you know. If a thing is to
be done, let it be done directly, that is my saying. There is no fear of
John Benson dawdling.”

And the good-hearted old man, rubbing his hands, hurried out of the room
to give the necessary orders.

In an instant, all was bustle in the house. Mr. Benson himself paced
away to the stables to hasten the harnessing of the horses; and
Emmeline, a few minutes before inanimate and almost lifeless, now, with
a flushed cheek, restlessly paced the hall and drawing-room, impatient
at every moment’s delay. She hardly knew whether she had most cause for
dread or hope from the contents of Mr. Pelham’s letter. Fitzhenry was
ill—plainly very ill; and, as her father said, it was not even hinted
that it was by his desire she had been summoned; but still she thought
she could trust to that kind, considerate friend; and the idea, the
delightful idea, that in a few days she would again behold Fitzhenry,
got the better of every other thought.

While Emmeline was thus counting every second till the carriage came to
the door, Mrs. Benson busied herself in those necessary preparations for
the journey, which her pre-occupied daughter never thought of. At last,
by midnight, all was ready; and followed by the blessings and good
wishes of her mother, Emmeline set off with her father for Dover.

“I shall come back to you, perhaps, the happiest of human beings,” said
she, as she returned Mrs. Benson’s fond embrace—“perhaps——” She had not
courage to finish the sentence.

“Foolish girl!” said her father, as he helped her into the carriage; “no
more whimpering. Now shut the door; bid the man drive on: and you, Mrs.
Benson, my good woman, do you go away to your bed. Pretty wild doings
these! This comes of connecting oneself with quality!”

The horses set off; and the rapidity with which they went, the feeling
that she was hurrying to the object of all her wishes, and the fresh air
of a fine summer’s night, all helped to compose and revive poor
Emmeline; so that, at Dover, Mr. Benson, with a lightened heart,
resigned her to the care of Mr. Pelham’s courier, whom they found there
waiting her orders. Her father offered himself to go on with her to
Paris; but that she for many reasons declined; and at last he consented
to return to Charlton. He first of all, however, went with her down to
the beach, saw her safe into the boat that was to convey her to the
vessel, and, from the pier, watched its white sails as long as he could,
with his glass, distinguish his daughter on the deck, waving her many a
farewell with his handkerchief. At last, his dear Emmy became a speck,
and vanished. The good man, then, brushing away a tear from his eye, and
ejaculating to himself a benediction on his darling, returned alone to
the inn, and resumed his journey homewards.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER IV.

             Mercy, dear Lord, saide he, what grace is this
             That thou hast shewed to me, sinfull wight,
             To send thine angell from her bowre of bliss
             To comfort me in my distressed plight?
             Angell, or goddess, doe I call thee right?
             What service may I doe unto thee meete,
             That hast from darkness me returned to light?

                                     FAERY QUEENE, Canto 5.


WITH all superior characters, such as Emmeline’s, the mind so supports
the body, that, for the time, it is rather strengthened than exhausted
by exertion. Although her health had been impaired, and her nerves much
weakened, by all she had lately undergone—yet, fearless of fatigue, she
travelled on without stopping, and arrived in Paris on the evening of
the third day from that on which she had left Charlton.

On entering the barriers, her heart almost ceased to beat; and when she
drove into the court-yard of the hotel to which the courier directed the
postilions, a death-like cold crept over her frame. But at the door, she
saw Mr. Pelham; and the smile with which he welcomed her again gave her
life.

“He is safe; he is out of danger;” he hastily said, as he ventured to
receive in his arms Emmeline’s almost inanimate form, and pressed her,
as a brother would a beloved sister, to his heart.

“Will he see me?” said Emmeline, looking still doubtfully in Mr.
Pelham’s face.

“Soon, very soon,” said he; “but you must compose yourself first; the
least agitation must be spared him.” And he led her up stairs to
Fitzhenry’s apartments.

“Did he send for me?” said Emmeline timidly, as soon as her agitations
allowed her to speak.

“My dear Lady Fitzhenry,” replied Pelham, “I never have deceived you,
and will not do so now; Fitzhenry did _not_ send for you; did not even
know of my writing. At that time, in truth, I despaired of his life; but
I know my friend well enough to be convinced, that had he had a moment’s
composure, he would have been glad to have had it in his power to demand
and obtain your forgiveness. It has pleased Heaven to give a more
favourable issue to this illness than I then had dared to anticipate.
Fitzhenry is now pronounced out of danger, but he is in a state of
weakness that, of course, has necessarily precluded all conversation on
that, or any other subject. Therefore your presence here is no way
expected by him.”

Poor Emmeline’s countenance fell;—a thousand vague hopes and
expectations were in an instant crushed!

Pelham observed her emotion, and added: “I cannot attempt to excuse my
friend’s conduct; a strange infatuation has blinded him, and, for a
time, clouded his better nature; but I am much mistaken if that fatal
madness is not entirely and for ever at an end.”

All must know how hard it is to bear the blank feeling of
disappointment when we have (even unreasonably) raised our hopes as to
some desired bliss. Emmeline had pictured to herself her husband
changed—penitent—receiving her to his heart; and, when she learnt the
real truth, she almost lost the sense of happiness at his safety, in
the bitter feeling, that even though her rival’s reign was over, still
_she_ had never been thought of by him. She covered her face with her
hands, while tears of mortification slowly stole down her cheeks.

Meanwhile, the servants had unloaded the carriage; and, as she heard it
driving out of the court-yard, Emmeline, in the humiliating pain of
disappointed feelings, almost resolved instantly to leave Paris, again
return to her father, and not force herself upon one who evidently
wished not for her.

With this idea, she suddenly rose from her seat. “I will see him once
more,” said she in a hurried manner: “could I not unseen follow you into
his room? I will not speak to him—he shall not see or hear me—I will
leave him directly, and for ever——” she added; but in so low a voice
that Pelham did not catch the words; and, attributing all her agitation
to anxiety about her husband’s safety, and thinking that nothing but
beholding him would satisfy her as to his existence, he drew her arm
within his, and led the way to Fitzhenry’s bed-room.

On opening the door, the darkness seemed so total, every window being
closed, that Emmeline, satisfied she could not be observed, followed Mr.
Pelham to the bed-side; the curtain was down, so that she could not see
Fitzhenry’s face, but merely heard him breathe; by degrees, as her eyes
got used to the obscurity, and judging by his immovable stillness, that
he had not observed their entrance, she ventured gently to put the
curtain aside and look on him. But to the fond eye of love alone was he
the same Fitzhenry from whom she had parted scarcely a month before. His
eyes were closed; his cheek was sunk and colourless; his brown curly
hair fell lank on his pale forehead, which was contracted with the
expression of suffering.

The sight was too much for her, and totally overcame her recently-formed
resolution of leaving him for ever. She sunk on her knees at his side;
her hand fell on his, which lay apparently lifeless on the bed; and, in
the agony of her feelings, careless of consequences, she covered with
tears and with kisses, that hand which she had never before dared to
touch; but which now felt not her fervent lips; was insensible to her
burning tears, and lay passive within hers.

Emmeline remained fixed at the bed-side of her husband. The former
unhappiness of their connexion, his indifference and even apparent
dislike, her own punctilious distance of manner toward him, all seemed
now forgotten by her. In trembling anxiety, she watched each heaving of
his bosom, each movement of his languid limbs; and how her heart
throbbed the first time his lips moved, and that she heard his voice! It
was weak and hollow; but still it was that voice which thrilled to her
inmost soul; he expressed a wish for something to moisten his parched
mouth; Pelham brought the glass to Emmeline; her trembling hand was
steadied when she held it to his lips, while she put her arm round him
to support his head.

She now seemed his established sick nurse: what she should do when his
amendment allowed him to know who it was that was attending upon him,
never was talked of, indeed was never thought of by Emmeline. To be
allowed to see him constantly, to perform for him the offices of
affection, was such happiness that she would not destroy it by venturing
to look forward. She gave him all his medicines. Sometimes, unconscious
what he did, he took hold of her hand, and held it long within his; but,
exhausted apparently by his illness, he never opened his eyes, never
enquired what he took, nor from whose hands he received it. The
physicians, however, assured Emmeline, that this insensibility was
merely the natural consequence of the violence of the fever through
which he had struggled, that they hourly saw some amendment, and found
increased strength of pulse.

On the second evening after her arrival, he had sunk into something more
like natural sleep than the state of stupor in which he had hitherto
lain. Fearful of moving, and thereby of disturbing him, Pelham had taken
hold of the first book he could reach, and was reading it by the light
of the lamp in the sick room. Emmeline was sitting at the foot of the
bed, with her eyes fixed on her husband’s countenance, for it was serene
and calm, and had more of its own natural expression than she had yet
seen. At length, he moved, passed his hand over his eyes, which then
rested on Emmeline, and endeavoured to raise himself. She saw that
sensibility had returned; and not daring to advance towards him herself,
she made sign to Mr. Pelham to come to him.

“Where am I?” exclaimed Fitzhenry.—“I have been very ill, Pelham, have I
not? I have no recollection—indeed, my head is still confused. I could
even now fancy,” continued he, staring wildly on Emmeline, “that I see
Lady Fitzhenry before me.”

“Yes, dear Fitzhenry,” replied his friend, “you have been ill—long very
ill; but you are now pronounced to be quite convalescent, and a few more
days will, I trust, restore you even to strength.”

“But my head is so weak—you will laugh at me Pelham—but I repeat it—I
could swear that at this moment I see Lady Fitzhenry quite plainly
sitting at the end of my bed; but I suppose it is all weakness, and that
such odd delusions will go off—but how very strange such fancies are!”

“Would you wish it to be no fancy?” said Pelham calmly: “would you like
your delirious vision to be realized?”

“Oh, Pelham, why do you talk in that way to me? you will only confuse my
poor brain still more—you too well know how impossible it is.”

“Do you still fancy you see her?” said Pelham.

“Still—still: it is her very countenance, her melancholy expression; and
she looks at me now—I almost fancy I see her breathe and move—Oh!
Pelham, for God’s sake give me something to rouse me out of this
miserably nervous state;” and Fitzhenry covered his eyes with both his
hands.

“Fitzhenry,” said Pelham, in a slow but tremulous voice, frightened at
the possible effect of that which he was going to impart,—“what if I
were to tell you that this is no sick dream—but that the figure before
you, is in truth and reality Lady Fitzhenry, your Emmeline?”

Fitzhenry gave a violent start, and grasped Pelham’s hand—“Good God!
Lady Fitzhenry in reality, here!—Speak to her Pelham—I dare not,
cannot.”

Poor Emmeline, trembling with anxiety, had not courage to move or utter
a single word, and during all this conversation had appeared the phantom
her husband had taken her for.

“Fitzhenry!” said Pelham, “compose yourself; you have nothing to fear
from Lady Fitzhenry; affection alone brought her here—and you will at
last be convinced, that far from being hated, you are loved as few can
hope to be.”

“Is it possible! do you not deceive me?” said Fitzhenry, eagerly, a
faint smile playing on his lips as he turned towards Emmeline. But she
still, doubting her happiness, remained immoveable.

“What, Emmeline!” said he, “cannot you forgive me?”

At that name, at those words, all fear forsook her; he held out to her
his feeble arms, and she rushed to his heart; his head fell on her
bosom; and, overcome with his feelings, he wept like a child. In a few
minutes, he recovered himself, and gazing in her face, their eyes met.

Oh! who can describe the happiness of that moment? Emmeline read
affection in those eyes which she had never before dared to encounter;
and when Fitzhenry again pressed her to his heart, and, half timidly,
kissed her burning cheek,—at that minute she almost could have wished to
breathe her last, so perfect was her bliss.

Such emotion, however, was not good for the invalid; and Pelham forced
Emmeline for a time to leave the room, till she had recovered the power
to endure her happiness with composure. When she returned, she again
took her station, in silence, by his bed-side. Fitzhenry seized her
hand, held it in both of his, but spoke not. One minute, one look,
however, had sufficed to open their hearts to each other; no explanation
was necessary; indeed, Emmeline would have been fearful of breaking the
dream of felicity in which she now lived, by one word recalling the
past.

Fitzhenry now daily seemed to gain strength. Occasionally, a short
cough, which the physicians pronounced to be nervous, tormented him by
disturbing his rest; but his eyes looked less languid. At times, some
colour returned to his cheeks; and, supported by cushions, he could now
sit up on a couch. And what a delight it was to Emmeline to wait upon
him, to watch and prevent his wishes; to smooth his pillow, and receive
in return a smile of kindness and gratitude!

Sometimes, however, a cloud would darken her present happiness. If
Fitzhenry was more than usually silent or thoughtful, (and he now often
fell into long fits of deep abstraction,) then her jealous fancy
pictured to her that his thoughts and affections were wandering back to
Lady Florence. When he talked of England, of his wish to return home,
again she took alarm; and, in spite of herself, interpreted his anxiety
on the subject into the desire again to be in the same country with her
rival—perhaps, indeed, again to return to her chains.

Lady Florence had never yet been in any way alluded to—Fitzhenry seemed
to shun the subject as much as Emmeline; so that she hardly knew her
fate, hardly knew by how strong, or how feeble a tenure she held her
present felicity.

One day, however, he suddenly seemed to summon courage for some sort of
explanation between them. Emmeline had, as usual, been arranging his
sofa. Her hand still lingered on the pillow which supported him; and,
after gazing on it a minute, he seized it, and looking attentively on
her wedding-ring—

“Emmeline,” said he, “give me back that ring, you shall wear it no more;
it was one _de mauvaise augure_, and shall in future live on my hand for
a memento, like Prince Cheri’s. I will marry you over again with
_this_.”

And, with a half melancholy smile, he drew from his finger a small
fretted gold ring, which appeared to have been intended for a woman. At
the same time, apparently repeating some words to himself, he put in its
place that which he had taken off Emmeline’s hand. “Give me a
prayer-book,” said he; “and look for the marriage ceremony, for I have
forgotten what I then promised.”

When he got the book, he read it to himself for some time in silence.

“Good God!” he at length exclaimed, “did I pronounce these words? did I
make those vows? villain that I was! Emmeline, can you forgive the
past?”

“Oh! do not talk of the past,” she eagerly exclaimed; “I am too happy
now to wish to think of it.”

“But what an awful account I shall have to give,” added he, again
casting his eyes on the book recording his solemn engagement with God.

“Dearest Fitzhenry!” said Emmeline, sinking on her knees beside him, “a
God of mercy will forgive all.”

“Pray to him for me,” said he, in a low tone; “I fear I cannot. I never
prayed!”

Emmeline shuddered, she seized his hand: “Oh! Fitzhenry, talk not so
wildly; God is now calling you to him, shrink not from him.”

Fitzhenry pressed her hand; again took the prayer-book, and with a
tremulous voice read these words:

“I, Ernest, take thee, Emmeline, to my wedded wife, to love and to
cherish; and forsaking all other, keep myself only unto thee as long as
we both shall live; and thereto I plight thee my troth.”

The last words died on his lips, and closing his eyes, he sank back,
seemingly both affected and exhausted. Emmeline was too much moved to
speak: she pressed to her lips and to her heart, that hand now a second
time given her—but in how different a manner!

From that day, Emmeline’s prayer-book was his constant companion. She
saw his mind was deeply affected, and left the strong impression to work
its own effect.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER VI.

               ——Whilst I remember
               Thee, and thy virtues, I cannot forget
               My blemishes in them; and so still think of
               The wrong I did myself.

                                            WINTER’S TALE.


A FEW days after the scene recorded in the last chapter, when Fitzhenry
appeared better than he had yet done since his illness, and that he had
even some of his own natural and playful cheerfulness, “Lady Fitzhenry,”
said he, with a smile, “how long is it since you have liked me—_loved_
me?” added he faintly, colouring.

Emmeline coloured too. “Oh! I can’t remember,” said she; “I tried to
hate you, for I felt it my duty to myself to do so; but somehow, from
the very first, I could not.”

“How strange!” continued Fitzhenry; “I should not have thought I could
have been so very blind and stupid. Our sex is pretty clear-sighted
where our vanity is concerned; but I suppose I was so conscious that I
deserved to be hated by you, that I convinced myself I was so; and
every, even the slightest occurrence, confirmed me more and more in this
opinion. Perhaps too I felt (at first at least) that it was an ease to
my conscience to think you disliked me, trying to persuade myself in
that manner that we were quits. Pelham, when he came to Arlingford, soon
saw how things were, and took me to task—he had known me long; known all
my history.”

Fitzhenry paused: at length, resuming in a lower, graver tone—“Emmeline!
my wife!” said he, “I must ease my mind by confessing all to you. I have
loved—madly loved—it was a delirium, an intoxication, an infatuation—but
on my honour, before God!” and he fervently clasped his hands
together—“before God, I swear it is over. My esteem, my admiration, all
is now, indeed has long been, yours.”

Fitzhenry had left out the word love; and Emmeline missed it. She turned
away her face from her husband, but not so quick as to prevent his
observing the change in her countenance; and, drawing her towards him,
he (smiling) added, “And my love too.” Still Emmeline kept her eyes
averted. “Listen to my story,” said Fitzhenry, “and then you will
believe me. I need not tell you in what a pretty humour I was married.
Good God! when I recollect the state of mind in which I was—that
dreadful day—I really now wonder how I got through it all as well as I
did.

“I resolved on civil indifference towards you; and, at the beginning, it
was easy enough to keep to my resolution, although from the first, your
conduct astonished, and consequently interested me. I expected
reproaches, sullenness, or childish repinings, and complaint, but found
sweetness, good sense, and delicacy. Emmeline! I could swear that you
never in your life suffered as I did that morning after our marriage,
when I had to encounter you in the breakfast-room. You held out your
hand to me—there was a smile on your face, that went to my heart as a
dagger. That day however over, my thoughts and feelings returned into
their former channel, and I was so entirely engrossed by them, that my
remorse died away. I persuaded myself I behaved vastly well to you, and
that you thoroughly deserved that fate which you had brought on
yourself. The civil indifference which I determined to maintain in my
conduct towards you, soon, however, became difficult to pursue. There
was sometimes an archness in your smiles—in your look and manner—an
appearance of reading my thoughts, and laughing at the awkward situation
in which I had placed myself, that piqued me, and made me almost in awe
of you. I was often, too, I am ashamed to say it, provoked with you for
your patient good humour, for not seeming to feel my abominable conduct
towards you more. But, at others, I found _you_ whom I had resolved to
disregard—to dislike—to my surprise, I found you (forgive the seeming
impertinence of the expression) a most intelligent, conversible
companion; and more than once I caught myself owning how agreeable you
were.

“But, although such thoughts at times occupied me, still my affections
were so strongly engaged—my whole soul so enthralled by mad passion,
that they were but passing thoughts; the impression, as yet, was not
deep. I then left home for some time, and returned to you with all my
old feelings strengthened. I had renewed all my vows of constancy, of
fidelity to another, perfectly regardless of the solemn, sacred
engagement, into which I had entered with you—(profligate, unprincipled
villain that I was!) Wishing to avoid, in future, the possibility of a
_tête-à-tête_ with you, I had invited several friends to meet me at
Arlingford, on my return there. I thought that by that means, we might
avoid even the common intimacy produced by living under the same roof,
and meeting daily, as I flattered myself that you would be lost in the
mass. But that plan failed. I heard your name, your praises, from every
one, and every where. Your voice always attracted my attention, and the
very resolution to slight, and dislike you, made me constantly occupied
about you.

“Among the party then at Arlingford, you remember, was Pelham. He had
come to England, on purpose to see me, and to make your acquaintance.
Knowing my former history, he had, as a true friend, rejoiced at my
marriage, for I had basely concealed from him the circumstances that had
attended it, fearing his strict integrity; but, when living with us, it
was impossible for him long to remain ignorant of our real situation. I
was forced to confess all to him; and he did not spare me. He persecuted
me eternally with your perfections. I allowed that you possessed sense,
acquirements, gentleness, most pleasing manners; but I insisted upon
your total want of feeling, on your having no heart; and I brought, as
proofs of my assertions, your apparent perfect contentment under
circumstances that would have roused the anger, if not broken the heart,
of any woman who had a particle of sensibility. Even on that point he
would not give way; and, one evening, while the whole party were busily
employed in dancing, and you were engaged at the piano-forte, we were
discussing the subject pretty warmly, (something that had passed having
given rise to it,) and Pelham was maintaining you were _even_ much
_attached_ to _me_; when a break in the music, a sudden burst of voices,
and your name often repeated, made me turn round, and I beheld you in
apparent gaiety of heart, waltzing joyously by yourself—‘Look there,’
said I to Pelham, (with the true selfish pride and impertinence of man,)
‘look at the sentimental girl, who is dying for love of me.’

“Pelham stared at you in astonishment. He was silenced; for, at that
moment, I am sure he read you as little aright as myself. As for me, I
at first looked at you in scorn; but other feelings soon succeeded. You
were, at that minute, perfectly beautiful; there was a look of wild
enjoyment, a brilliancy in your complexion, a grace in your person, that
fixed my attention, and, in spite of myself, forced my admiration. I had
never seen any one, (any _but one_,) waltz so well: at that moment, I
almost thought I had never seen any one so lovely. The truth was, I
seldom before had ever looked at you attentively, for I feared to
encounter your eyes, and somehow they always instantly seemed to know
when mine were directed towards you.

“For an instant, I was lost in admiration, as I followed your light form
round the room; so I suppose was Pelham, for our argument seemed totally
forgotten by us both. Suddenly you came up to me, and seized my arm. Had
the marble statue left its pedestal, and done the same, I could scarcely
have started more violently beneath its grasp. I was altogether so
thrown off my guard, that I hardly knew what to say or do. Your conduct
surprised, (I must own,) even disgusted me; I thought it was no subject
for a _joke_, and that there was a want of delicacy in thus braving me.
You may remember I was made to waltz with you.”

Emmeline’s deep crimson showed she remembered it well.

Fitzhenry pressed her hand, which he held still more closely, and
continued—“It seemed to me to be all a concerted plan to torment me; my
momentary trance of admiration was dispelled, and was succeeded by
feelings very opposite. You then appeared to me to endeavour, by old and
hacknied arts of coquetry, to attract my attention: you fell almost
entirely into my arms; you laid your head on my shoulder, and complained
of faintness. I cannot describe the strange mixture of feelings which at
that moment took possession of me—for though, even then I fancied I
disliked you, yet, I verily believe regret and disappointment were
uppermost on discovering (as I thought I then did) the common-place,
artful nature of your character. To extricate myself from you was,
however, my first object; and, under pretext of gallant attention, I
directly left the room to procure a glass of water.

“In truth, your indisposition was evidently not feigned, for you were as
pale as death; but in my vexation I would not own that even to myself. I
was in a devil of a humour all that evening. The next day Moore made
that foolish piece of work about the brooch, (which circumstance, by the
bye, I still don’t comprehend); however, I know well that I wrote you
some _impertinence_. What, I don’t recollect, and I suspect I had better
not remember. It seemed to me that you and Moore were in a league to
plague and provoke me; and I hated you both most cordially. I felt it
was impossible to go on in this way; and, to put an end to the whole
thing, I pretended sudden and violent zeal for the welfare of my
country, and announced my intention to go early to town, to attend
parliament. But it was not politics which took me there; nor did I, as I
believe I basely let you imagine, pass my days and nights in the House
of Commons.

“But my conscience was perfectly at rest, for your conduct then seemed
to sanction mine. You plunged madly into dissipation, and for days
together, although living under the same roof, we often did not meet. I
believe I again gave a sigh when I thought how I had been mistaken in
your character, for I had fancied there was, at least, nothing of
frivolity in it, and had frequently been forced to confess to myself,
that had I been free, and to choose one who would have suited me as a
wife, (barring your supposed want of feeling and tenderness of nature,)
I should have chosen you. On the whole, however, I rejoiced at your
apparent levity of disposition. I felt as if I thus regained my liberty,
and that your follies excused my faults. It seemed to me that it was by
mutual consent that we then each went our own way. But mine was no
longer one of pleasantness. I felt—and yet the feeling was pain—I felt I
did not love as I had done. I saw her as she was, wanting all that
beauty of innocence, of virtue, which you so eminently possessed; but,
still infatuated, I sought her society although the charm was gone.

“We had not been long in town, however, before a strange madness came
over me. I hardly know how, or when it began. You had general
success——were universally admired; but I fancied that _Pelham in
particular admired you_; and, when once that thought had taken
possession of my mind, every trifling circumstance gave it additional
certainty; till one night, at Almacks, I surprised you together in such
earnest conversation, and in such evident emotion, that I had no longer
a doubt left on the subject. Although I had voluntarily rejected your
affections, and repulsed you from me, yet I could not bear that another
should awaken feelings which I had tried to persuade myself you did not
possess. I really believe I was vain and ridiculous enough to want you
to love me, when I had no intention of returning the partiality, and
certainly made no attempt to inspire it. I had sought Pelham that
evening, having something of consequence to say to him; but when I saw
you, I totally forgot my errand. I looked at you stedfastly, to try and
read your heart. You blushed deeply. How can I own my folly, my
perverseness, my inconsistency! I gazed on you in jealousy! for I then
saw and acknowledged your attractions: I saw that your smiles, your
gaiety, your bloom was gone. I saw that some secret sorrow had changed
the character of your countenance, had altered the whole tone of your
mind, and of your manners. But, every way totally deceived, I never once
dreamt I was the cause of that sorrow.

“At Easter, I would not go to Arlingford, for if I had, there could have
been no reason why you, why Pelham, should not have accompanied me, and
I did not feel that I could have stood the trial. So I went to Mostyn
Hall; but, on my honour, it was more to avoid you, and Pelham, than to
seek her; for all was there changed. Suspicion and discontent now
poisoned our intercourse; and when I called to mind your gentleness,
your feminine _home_ perfections, she fell still lower in the
comparison. I was then summoned home on account of poor Reynolds’s
illness; she ridiculed my feelings for him; but, for the first time, I
disregarded her raillery, I resisted her allurements, and set off
directly for Arlingford. You may imagine what was the effect produced on
my mind, when on opening the door of the invalid’s room, I beheld you
kneeling by the bed of my old servant. I had no idea you were at
Arlingford. I had left you apparently engrossed by the world and its
dissipation. Indeed, according to the suspicions of my jealous fancy, by
still more powerful attractions, and could hardly believe my senses. Oh!
how my heart at that minute smote me for my hasty and seemingly unjust
judgment of you.

“Poor Reynolds, you may remember, joined our hands; an unaccountable
fear, shyness, I know not what, came over me. I had not courage to
retain your hand when you withdrew it from mine; I felt you were a being
too pure, too good for me; and I allowed you to fly from me. Reynolds
talked to me much about you—told me long stories about your goodness,
your affection for me—about having found you gazing on my picture, and I
know not what; but I fancied his mind began to wander; that I could not
trust to what he said; in short, I would not be convinced, although I
wished it. But still his exhortations, the awfulness of the scene, and
my own accusing conscience, all combined to work on my feelings; and I
resolved, the first moment I could, to leave him to go to you, seek an
explanation, and implore your forgiveness.

“When I reached your door for that purpose, my heart beat with various
contending feelings. I hardly knew what I said; I longed to fall at your
feet, to ask you to forgive and love me. A word, a look of kindness on
your part would then have fixed our fate—one smile, and I should have
caught you to my heart——been yours for ever. But I found you cold,
distant, and for the first time, since I had known you, even irritated
and repulsive. There were traces of tears on your face, which you
endeavoured to hide from me; your whole manner betrayed emotion and
feelings, which you wished to conceal. I saw then, as I thought, but too
plainly, how it was—all combined to deceive me. Mrs. Osterley’s
thoughtless hints came to my mind, and confirmed me in my suppositions.
I fancied that the case was hopeless. My pride then closed both my
heart, and lips, and I would not confess to you feelings which I was
convinced you could not now return.

“As I was leaving you, by accident your hair—one of these beautiful long
ringlets—got entangled on the button of my coat sleeve. Had you been
forced to touch a serpent, you could not have recoiled from it with more
horror than you did from me. Do you remember all that Lady Fitzhenry?
and pray how do you explain your conduct?” said he, smiling.

“In the whole of your supposed love-story, for ‘Pelham’ read ‘Ernest,’”
answered Emmeline, in a low voice, as she hid her face on his shoulder,
“and all will be fully explained.”

“What a pity it was, that we were both so proud or so stupid!” continued
Fitzhenry, sighing deeply as he gazed on her in tenderness: “I was both,
and left you in anger; although, I confess, I had little right to take
the matter up in that manner. The next day, provoked with you, with
myself, miserable every way, I would not attempt to detain you at
Arlingford, though I ardently wished it; I only read impatience to
return to Pelham in your resolved departure, and would not for the world
have allowed you to think I wished you to remain. I remember, however,
that as you drove from the door, you cast back one look—one melancholy
look, which shot as a ray of light through my heart; (for I was watching
you from my room;) had I been at the door, I believe, even then I should
have endeavoured to stop you; but, before I had time to decide, you
drove off. I then persuaded myself that the look of regret which I had
fancied I had seen on your countenance was mere fancy; I took your thus
leaving me as declared war on your part; and, when I joined you in town,
I determined that my conduct should be such as (fool, idiot, that I
was!) I thought befitting my pride and honour—fine sounding words, which
I put in the place of selfishness and passion.

“In consequence of this resolution, I totally neglected you; we ceased
almost entirely to speak to each other when we did chance to meet, and I
returned in desperation to your rival. I endeavoured in her society to
forget every thing, to banish from my mind you Emmeline, my friend, and
all the dreams of happiness—of domestic happiness which now eternally
haunted me. But in vain! the fascination of her society was gone—we were
both changed; it was impossible to recall feelings which truth had
destroyed. She could not again blind me; suspicion made her
_exigeante_—her thraldom became insupportable; my feelings, my temper,
both were irritated beyond my control; my mind was sick, as my body now
is.”

For a minute or two, Fitzhenry hid his face in his hands, and seemed
lost in no pleasing recollections; at length, after a deep-drawn sigh,
(whether of regret or repentance Emmeline could not decide,) he
continued:

“I now come to the last and the worst part of my story. I would fain
forget it all; but Emmeline, you shall know the very worst; shall be
aware what a hot-headed fool you have to deal with, and then you must
still love me if you can. I think I need hardly ask, if you remember a
certain Saturday night at the opera. By accident, I happened to know,
that you had, that night, given away your box; and, therefore, feeling
secure you would not be there, had agreed to accompany Lady Florence;
for, abominably as I had behaved, you must do me the justice to allow, I
never so far insulted you as openly before you to be seen with your
rival; how much certain selfish feelings and awkward uncomfortable
sensations of shame influenced me, I will not pretend to say. Well, I
joined Lady Florence. After I had been with her a few minutes, she
carelessly told me, she believed she had seen you. I directly looked
round to the box which she said she had observed you enter; but, not
being able to distinguish you, I was satisfied that she must have been
mistaken. Presuming on her former power, she then spoke of you. I could
not bear to hear your name in her mouth; I felt it almost an insult to
myself. She spoke too of you with a sort of ridicule and levity that
disgusted me; she hinted at the attachment between you and Pelham, and
seemed to enjoy the pain she saw she was inflicting. Although a smile
was on her lips, yet her eyes flashed fire—the fire of jealousy and
revenge. This, in the present state of my feelings, was not to be
endured. I dared not speak; I knew too well also the violence of her
temper; it was not the moment for a _scene_, and I said not a word; but
still, there I remained, as if spell-bound. My mind was, however, busily
at work, and I formed many resolutions for extricating myself, from my
present miserable situation. You then rose to my imagination, gay,
blooming, gentle, artless, as you were when I first took you to
Arlingford; when I had sworn to love and protect you; and had then
basely repulsed, and abandoned to your hard fate. My conscience smote me
sorely. I felt how greatly I had injured you; that, young and
inexperienced as you were, I had, by my cruelty and neglect, driven you
into danger. I thought, perhaps, you still had not wandered so far, but
that your affections might yet be recalled. On my honour, Emmeline,
infatuated as I was, I had then no doubt of your innocence, your purity,
your virtue. Nor could I even bring myself to suspect Pelham’s honour.
That you loved each other, I did not doubt; but I respected you both too
much to think I had been injured by you. I resolved, in short, that, on
that very night, we should open our hearts to each other; that all
should be explained between us. I determined to propose to you,
Emmeline, to leave town with me—to leave England directly, and by mutual
forgiveness, to make up for the past, and begin a new life of
penitence—I hoped finally of happiness. Lost in these thoughts, I sat
unconscious of what was passing around me, till the falling of the
curtain roused me from my trance. Lady Florence then seized my arm. She
saw she had displeased me; feared she had gone too far, and would not
quit her hold. When we reached the lobby, I saw you and Pelham. I
hurried her down stairs in the opposite direction; but she had seen you
too, and I could distinguish a smile of triumph on her countenance.

“What happened afterwards you know. The two carriages had got entangled,
for your coachman, Emmeline, was fighting your battle for you, and
contending with Lady Florence Mostyn’s. In the confusion I caught a
glimpse of you, at the moment when she had fallen back into my arms. I
heard the coarse jokes of the mob of footmen as your carriage drove off.
I was nearly frantic. Florence had been slightly hurt, was still
frightened, and nervous. I could not be so brutal as to leave her in
that state. I went home with her. I meant calmly, kindly, to speak to
her; to represent the misery of our intercourse—in short, to open my
heart to her. But the instant she suspected my meaning—overpowered by
her passions, her fury knew no bounds, nor her envenomed malice and
jealousy towards you. My blood fired—a violent scene ensued. I left her
in anger——and fully resolved for ever.”

Fitzhenry had latterly spoken so quick, that he paused for a minute, as
if exhausted and overcome by his feelings; but Emmeline was too much
interested and agitated by the narration to make any comment; and, after
a moment’s total silence between them, he continued, although in a still
more perturbed manner.

“I hurried home—I was in that feverish state of mind, when to think, to
pause, is impossible. I felt I must instantly throw myself at your feet,
that our fate must be that minute determined. I meant to propose to you
to set off for Dover that very night. I had ceased to love _her_; but my
mind was torn with contending feelings, my brain was on fire. As soon as
I reached home, I rushed up stairs—I heard Pelham’s voice in the
drawing-room—the door was not closed, my ear caught these words,
‘Honour—you may trust me’—(and you will allow those are awkward words
for a husband to overhear addressed to his wife.) I was determined to be
satisfied at once—to have all doubts removed. I burst into the room; and
my worst suspicions were confirmed. Pelham had hold of your hand; you
were close to him; your head rested on him—you were violently
agitated—both started on seeing me—you were both evidently discomposed,
and thrown off your guard. Was it strange that I converted all this into
evidences of guilt? I had just enough command over myself not to speak.
You attempted some excuse for the situation in which I found you. Your
effrontery surprised and shocked me. At that minute, I totally forgot
your wrongs and my own conduct, and I only considered myself as basely
betrayed and injured. Pelham then followed you to the door of your own
room; he said something to you in a low voice——again he took your hand.
All that before my face was too much. I wonder how I contained the rage
that burned within me. I felt that I could not then discuss the matter
with him, and I left the house like a madman. I paced up and down the
street, and watched for Pelham’s departure before I returned home;
giving way to all the delirium of passion, and distracted by all the
misery of doubt. My first impulse was to write to him, imperiously to
demand an explanation of his conduct, and satisfaction for my injured
honour. Heavens! to think that I sought an opportunity to deprive of
life Pelham, my best, my tried, my devoted friend! I passed the night
writing letter after letter to you both, and destroying them as fast as
I wrote. By degrees, however, my passion cooled; I sometimes thought,
and fondly hoped, I might be mistaken. When I recalled to mind my
friend’s strict principles of virtue and integrity—principles that had
so often made me blush for my faults—I could not think that what I
suspected was possible, strong as appearances were against you both.
Your virtues too, Emmeline, your look of artless innocence, haunted me.
How could I reconcile your present supposed conduct with all those
perfections which I had so admired in you?

“Hours passed on, daylight returned. The servants began to stir about
the house. I heard footsteps in the room above—in your room, Lady
Fitzhenry. Every minute I expected some message from you, some note,
some explanation in short; and kept my letter to Pelham unsealed, still
hoping I might have been in error, and that something would undeceive
me. I soon, however, heard preparations for your departure; your leaving
my house thus, without even taking leave of me, I interpreted into a
decided resolution on your part that a final, formal separation should
take place between us. You had said you were going to Charlton. I
sometimes hardly believed that you were really going there, and, in
frantic moments, I suspected the worst. But at others, when my own
conduct forced itself on my mind, when I reflected on your wrongs, I
then thought that, exasperated probably by my ill treatment, you were
leaving my roof for ever, determined, perhaps, that the law should
dissolve an union which had been but a source of misery to you, in order
that you might legally unite yourself to the man you loved. Again, had
not pride restrained me, I would have sought that explanation which I
longed for, and then all would soon have been understood between us; had
our eyes but met, we must, at that moment, have read each other’s
hearts; but in proud, sullen silence, I awaited some opening from you.

“None came; at length your carriage drove up to the door; I heard your
footsteps on the stairs; you stopped at my door; my heart beat to
suffocation; I thought, nay, I felt almost sure that you were coming to
me; my hand was actually on the lock to open it; just then I heard one
of the servants speaking to you, you passed on—I heard the carriage-door
shut, and you drove off. I felt that we had parted for ever; and, when
too late, I regretted the blessing I had thrown away.

“My Emmeline, I am not _now_ ashamed to own to you, that I wept in
bitterness of heart.

“The instant you were gone, in desperation I sealed and directed my
abominable letter to Pelham. I ordered post horses directly, desiring
that the carriage should follow me to his lodgings. On arriving there, I
learnt he was gone out of town. This confirmed all to me; I tore open my
letter, said we could never again meet but in _one_ way, and for _one_
purpose. That I was going instantly to Arlingford, that he might there
follow me, and give me the satisfaction I demanded, unless indeed he was
already far off with another.

“How perverse is human nature! Man’s nature at least. On my arrival at
Arlingford, I missed you whom I had always before shunned, at every
turn. I missed the gentle being who had so long, so patiently submitted
to my most impertinent vagaries. I missed my poor victim! Every room,
every inanimate object recalled her who would have given to all such a
charm! I spent hours in your room, Emmeline, in useless, tormenting
regrets. In that room which I had hitherto avoided with such care!
Alternately condemning myself and you, I felt that I had lost every
thing—I was completely miserable!”

Greatly exhausted by this narration, during which Fitzhenry had often
been interrupted by his cough, he leant back on the couch. The door, at
that moment gently opened, and Pelham appeared. On observing the very
visible signs of emotion on both his friends countenances, he was again
hastily retreating, when Fitzhenry called to him—“No, come in, Pelham;
what we were talking about need be no secret from you, for indeed you
are principally concerned. I was telling Emmeline all my history. In
other words, confessing all my faults; and as you are, God knows, well
acquainted with both, I wish you would relieve me, by bringing the
narrative to a conclusion; I have owned to her all my strange fears and
fancies, my suspicions even of you. Can you, Pelham, ever forgive and
forget them? can you forgive the ravings of a madman, for such they now
appear to me to have been.”

“Don’t be too humble in your apologies to me,” said Pelham, smiling—“for
I am not sure how far I am myself innocent, if it is guilt to esteem, to
admire, to——” Pelham stopped, for a minute. “In short,” added he—“I had
more than half a mind to punish you, Fitzhenry, for your extreme
stupidity; and endeavour myself to win the pearl of great price which
you rejected; but, from the first, I had, luckily for me, penetration
sufficient to discover that the attempt would be perfectly hopeless.”

Pelham said this in the light tone of pleasantry; but, as he spoke, his
eyes glanced mournfully on Emmeline, and a slight tinge of red
momentarily suffused his sallow cheek. But his emotion totally escaped
Emmeline’s observation, whose eyes and attention were entirely fixed on
her husband, fearful of losing a word, or look.

Fitzhenry, however, saw all; his eye moistened as he held out his hand
to his friend, and warmly pressed his within it. “Well Pelham, now you
must take up our history from my sudden departure for Arlingford, where
you found me; and do not spare me; I deserve thoroughly the worst you
may be tempted to say of me.”

“Don’t be afraid, my good friend,” replied Pelham; “I am, you know, not
apt to compliment you.—Well, Lady Fitzhenry, to go back to that fatal
Saturday night: Fitzhenry had appeared in so strange a mood when we then
parted, so agitated, so unlike himself, that I had determined to be in
Grosvenor-street early next morning; but the arrival of a courier from
the continent with dispatches of importance, obliged me directly to
repair to our foreign minister’s: he was, I found, gone to his villa at
Putney; thither I followed him, and was there detained so long on
business, which could not be deferred, that I did not get back to town
till late in the afternoon. I drove straight to Grosvenor-street, and
learnt, to my surprise, that both of you had left London—but not
together. I feared something disagreeable had passed, and when I reached
my own house, I found Fitzhenry’s letter, which confirmed my
apprehensions. I declare, that at first I thought he was mad—and could
scarcely guess what he meant, what he could allude to. Although obliged
in four and twenty hours to leave England, yet I could not go without
seeing him, without endeavouring at least to clear up all this sad
misunderstanding; and I lost no time in repairing to Arlingford. It is
fortunate that I am by nature blest with a very calm temperament,
otherwise this meeting might possibly have ended in our running each
other through the body. But Fitzhenry and I had been too long real
friends for any _unfounded_ misunderstanding long to exist between us.

“I at length succeeded in convincing him how perfectly absurd and unjust
his suspicions were, as far as I was myself concerned. But there, my
powers of persuasion ended: he would listen to nothing I could say about
you, Lady Fitzhenry: you hated him, he said; if it was not me whom you
preferred, it was some one else. You were quite changed towards him—he
could hardly blame you, but things had now gone too far to allow of any
hope of reconciliation. You had left his house in anger, just anger—gone
to your father’s; had probably told him all, intending no doubt to
insist on a formal separation—on a divorce. Perhaps legal proceedings
were already commenced against him. And whatever he might suffer, he
could, and would, only acquiesce in whatever you chose to dictate.

“Fitzhenry then repeated to me again and again, all his _proofs_ of your
indifference and dislike,—all which were only proofs of his own blind
infatuation. In short, poor fellow,” added Mr. Pelham, smiling—“he
talked a great deal of nonsense. However, at last, by setting up my
proofs in opposition to his, I succeeded in extorting from him an
agreement, that he would go with me directly to Charlton. I was first to
see you alone, and he promised that he would then be guided by my
judgment as to his own conduct. The carriage which was to convey us to
you was actually at the door, but, unfortunately, Fitzhenry, who was in
a state of diseased anxiety, and restlessness of mind, insisted on
waiting for the arrival of the post; it brought no letter from you,
(which was what he had secretly hoped for,) but one from his father,
that immediately destroyed all I had been labouring to accomplish.
Gossip had been busy with you and your husband; indeed had even brought
in my name. The scene which took place at the opera, your both abruptly
leaving town—these circumstances, put together, and enlarged upon, had
been formed into a regular story of rupture, elopement, duel, and the
Lord knows what, till at last it found its way into the newspapers, I
was told; and thus reached Lord Arlingford, who, much alarmed at the
report, wrote directly to his son, entreating him to consider well what
he was about; to break off immediately a connexion which was now become
so public, and consequently so disgraceful, and endeavour to be
reconciled to his wife.

“So far all was well; but unfortunately the arguments he used were the
last to influence your husband’s noble mind, for they were those of
interest. Knowing Lord Arlingford as well as he did, at any other time
Fitzhenry would have treated such a hint with the contempt it deserved;
but he was then no way himself—he tore his father’s letter into a
thousand pieces, and, with a bitter smile, while his face was ghastly
pale said, ‘he is right, quite right; it is my _interest_ to be
reconciled to Lady Fitzhenry—no power on earth shall make me seek her
forgiveness—the first overtures must come from herself. Even you surely
would not have me go as a beggar, and sue and humble myself to her
father: what an honourable appearance would repentance have just now!
No, Pelham, I will not do it; and any attempt to persuade me to such a
step, I warn you, will be perfectly vain.’

“During our friend’s own story,” continued Pelham, “I think, Lady
Fitzhenry, he has probably let you a little into the secret of his
character; and, therefore, I may venture to say, that pride is his
besetting sin. Had I but hinted this at that time, I suppose he would
have knocked me down; but we have him in our power now; and who would
believe, seeing him, as he now is, so meek, so humble, so contrite, and
subdued, what a perfect devil he was then!”

“Come, come, Pelham,” said Fitzhenry, while his pale face was slightly
coloured: “you are a little exceeding the liberty I gave—tell the story
fairly, but no comments. Let Lady Fitzhenry find out my faults herself;
she will do that quite soon enough without your assistance; indeed, God
knows she has had full opportunity already——”

“Lady Fitzhenry has but one fault to find,” interrupted Emmeline, as she
looked half reproachfully in her husband’s face: “it is that you persist
in calling her by that cruel formal name.”

“Bad old habits, my Emmeline,” he replied smiling; “which, if they
offend you, shall be conquered; but I _could_ explain why I never _now_
pronounce that name without feelings very, very different from those of
coldness or dislike; do I not by it claim you as my own? But I want to
have done with my history. So go on, Pelham, only remember no
annotations and reflections.”

“I was ignorant of what had passed between Fitzhenry and Lady Florence,”
continued Pelham, almost tempted to smile at his friend’s sickly
petulance: “he had never named her. Had I known of their rupture, I
should immediately have entreated you, Lady Fitzhenry, to have come, or
at least to have written to him; but not aware of that connexion being
at an end, I could not advise a step, which I felt you could hardly
take, and which I thought, indeed, would do little good if all was to go
on as it had done for some months past. Fitzhenry was seemingly
wretched; but so he had long been. I had undeceived him as far as was
possible for me to do with regard to your feelings towards him, and I
certainly felt it was for him to seek you, and to implore your
forgiveness.

“Hopeless, therefore, of bringing about a reconciliation between you at
that moment, I informed him of my necessary and immediate departure for
the continent, and proposed his accompanying me; I thought, by that
means, the fatal connexion which seemed the bar to your mutual happiness
might be broken; and, knowing well your heart, and certain that
affection would, with you, get the better of every other feeling, I
trusted that time and circumstances would restore you to each other.
Fitzhenry directly with eagerness caught at the idea of leaving England:
‘it is the best thing for us all,’ said he: ‘and it will break to
Florence what at present I cannot say—cannot write to her.’

“On our way to town, however, being still unwilling to give up all hope,
and still thinking it was incumbent on Fitzhenry to make the first
advances to you, I formed a little plan to decoy your husband to
Charlton on our road to Dover, and I pleased myself with thinking that I
might, by this very allowable artifice, be the means of bringing about
your mutual happiness; but something betrayed my scheme; and, as soon as
he suspected my intention, he was thrown into a state of violence and
irritation of temper, in which I had never before seen him, and which
really alarmed me. It was Mr. Benson’s presence which he dreaded, I
believe: he could have laid his pride, (that stumbling-block of his,) at
your feet Lady Fitzhenry, but he could not humble himself before
others.”

“Indeed, Emmeline,” said Fitzhenry, interrupting him, “again Pelham
barely does me justice; it was not pride that made me dread encountering
you. On the contrary, it was shame, fear, humility, and all those
perfectly contrary feelings.”

“Poh! poh! don’t let him take you in with all that pretty sounding
humbug,” continued Pelham, laughing. “However, the real truth was, that
he was as unlike his real self then, as, I am sorry to say, he is in
many respects now. As we proceeded, I became more and more convinced
that he was far from well. During the journey, I made little progress
with my headstrong companion in my attempts to bring him to reason, and
at last his answers became so strange and incoherent, that I was really
alarmed; and, on our arrival here, I immediately sent for a physician.
He found him, as I had suspected, in a high fever; and I am convinced
his illness (brought on probably by agitation) had attacked his brain
even before it showed itself visibly in his health; as at Arlingford, he
certainly was in a state of irritation perfectly unnatural to him.
Fortunately, the letters I here found enabled me to delay my further
journey for a short time, in order to devote myself to him.

“You now know all,” continued Pelham; “and whatever my future lot in
life may be, it will be one gratifying recollection that I was the means
of uniting two beings so formed for each other, and whom I love so
entirely.”

Mr. Pelham seized Emmeline’s hand as he uttered these words, and pressed
it to his lips. “Reward my friend for his services to me and to
yourself, Emmeline,” said Fitzhenry, “by letting him kiss that varying
cheek of yours. Can I give a stronger proof that my delirious fever has
quite left me?”

Pelham waited not for further leave; he pressed her to his heart, and,
as he printed a fond kiss on her forehead, “God bless you, Emmeline,—God
bless and protect you both!” he cried, with emotion; “and in your future
hours of happiness remember me.” Then resuming a more cheerful tone, he
added: “And now, my dear friends, that my mind is at ease about you
both, (for I do not now apprehend a relapse of _any_ sort,) and that I
can leave you, Fitzhenry, in the care of so good a nurse, I must repair
to my post, and set off to-morrow morning for Vienna, in case any longer
delay should bring me to disgrace—as politics have little respect for
the feelings of friendship.”


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER VII.

            “In vain may art the couch of sickness tend,
             Or friendship sigh, or sympathy implore,
             Or love, all sanguine, o’er the sufferer bend;
             The mortal sinks,—and every hope is o’er!
             These brooding thoughts in useless pangs expire;
             More soothing sounds let struggling nature hear,
             Catch from religion’s shrine an holier fire,
             And wake to duty, from her trance severe.”


AFTER Mr. Pelham’s departure, Fitzhenry became very impatient to return
to England. He was better certainly, and had regained some degree of
strength; for now, leaning on Emmeline’s arm, he was able to walk about
his apartment; but still he did not seem to recover as rapidly as he
should. A degree of varying fever still hung about him; his cough, which
the French physician still called nervous, at times exhausted him much,
and he had a look of languor quite unnatural to him; his cheek remained
hollow, his eyes looked sunk.

Paris, meanwhile, grew insufferably hot; his anxiety to leave it, and
his desire for home became so strong—partaking of the feverish longing
of illness—that in the hope that the short sea voyage might prove rather
beneficial to him than the contrary, it was at last decided that they
should set out for Arlingford. They went down the Seine by water, and
then hired a vessel to take them to Pool, which was within only twelve
miles of their own home. The voyage seemed to do Fitzhenry good, the sea
air to refresh him; and, on his near approach to Arlingford, his spirits
and animation seemed to return; and Emmeline gazed with delight on the
colour in his cheeks, and the sparkling gladness of his eyes; and oh!
how eloquent was their language to her doating heart! what volumes did
they tell in one single glance!

Perhaps many would not understand the emotion which made both their
hearts beat even to pain, when they entered the well-known scenes of
Arlingford;—but, again I repeat it, I address myself only to those who
have known the deep feeling of tried affection, the wild enchantment of
love. Emmeline fancied she saw sympathetic joy in every countenance, and
as she returned the congratulatory salutations of the country people,
(who, smiling, took off their hats as the carriage passed,) she could
scarcely restrain her tears. At how many a turn in the road, or
well-remembered path or ride, recalling moments and feelings of past
unhappiness, did they almost involuntarily look at each other; and how
often did Fitzhenry clasp Emmeline’s hand in his, and entreat her again
and again to forgive him!

Thus buoyant with joy and gratitude, they at last drove up to the door
of their own home. Fitzhenry’s spirits had been so much beyond his
bodily strength, that they had quite exhausted him; so that when he left
the carriage, it was with difficulty he reached the drawing-room. As the
servants all eagerly pressed forward to give him their assistance, “Poor
Reynolds!” he exclaimed, tears starting into his eyes, “I wish I had his
arm to lean on now, for how happy he would have been!”

When he was assisted to the couch in the drawing-room, he looked round
the apartment for several minutes in silence, and when the door had
closed on the attendants, he held out his arms to Emmeline. They could
neither speak—but they did not need words to express their feelings;
both knew what was passing in the mind of the other, and Emmeline
secretly thanked the giver of all good for her present happiness.

We poor mortals do well to catch at each passing moment of joy, and feed
on them while ours; for alas! how soon do they fade away! and how
wretched the condition of those who, weak in faith, see not the bounty
of God in every blessing, and cannot “lift the adoring eye e’en to the
storm that wrecks them,” relying on the wisdom and mercy of his
unsearchable providence.

Fitzhenry had a restless night of cough and fever; and although Emmeline
attributed both to the fatigue and agitation of the preceding day, yet
she sent off an express for an eminent physician residing at Winchester;
and on his arrival, with a beating heart, led him into her husband’s
apartment. Doctor Harrington, who had formerly often seen Fitzhenry,
appeared much struck with the alteration in his appearance: he
questioned him minutely as to his cough, and other symptoms of his
complaint; then, drawing out his watch, he repeatedly counted his pulse.
Emmeline, who in breathless anxiety watched every look and word, could
not help taking fright at his manner; and her alarm was increased, when,
on pretence of writing a prescription, he followed her into the
adjoining room, and addressed her with—“Pray, Lady Fitzhenry, do I
remember right, was not the late Lady Arlingford consumptive?”

Poor Emmeline’s blood froze in her veins, and her pale lips betrayed the
terror his question had conveyed.

“I beg you will not be alarmed,” he added, in a sententious tone,
observing her emotion; “Lord Fitzhenry is young; has always, I believe,
lived most temperately. At present, I apprehend no immediate danger; but
we must be careful. These hereditary complaints are sometimes obstinate,
and difficult to deal with.”

And thus he went on for some time with the _sang froid_ which some of
his profession, perhaps naturally, acquire; fancying he could in that
manner reassure his trembling auditor. But she scarcely heard him. The
sudden transition from joy and the overflowings of her grateful heart,
to the dreadful apprehensions which now took possession of her mind, was
too violent to be endured.

Almost unconscious what she did, she received from Doctor Harrington’s
hand his written prescription; and, with an altered countenance,
returned to her husband. The flushed crimson of his cheek, the bright,
feverish sparkling of his eyes, now made her shudder; and she hid her
face at the back of the arm-chair in which he was sitting, fearing she
might betray herself.

“Well, Emmeline,” said he at last, “what news from Doctor Harrington? he
looked prodigiously pompous about me; but I hope he will give me
something to stop my cough, and make me sleep: in fact, that is all I
now require to be well. But it is wearisome. Last night I never closed
my eyes: however, I believe that was the effect of happiness, at being
once more at Arlingford, and with you. What does the sapient doctor
recommend? Let me look at what he has written. This is all Greek and
Hebrew to me,” said he, in a light tone, as he returned the paper to
Emmeline; “indeed, I hope, for my learning’s credit, even more
unintelligible—but, Emmeline, are you not well? how pale you look! I
think you require a little doctoring as well as myself. You have worn
yourself out by nursing me; I will not let you do so any more. Last
night you did not leave my room for hours, I know, for I watched you,
and at last was forced to feign sleep, in order that you might go and
get some yourself. But this shall not be any longer. I really do not now
want my servant, or, indeed, any attendance. We will have that little
couch-bed moved into my room for you; and no soporific which the doctor
can recommend, will make me sleep half so well, as knowing you have that
rest which I am sure you need even more than myself.”

Emmeline hid her face on the cushion on which his head was lying—she
could not speak.

“What, Emmeline!” he continued, “will you not agree to my proposal? Have
I said any thing to displease you? Foolish girl!” and he drew away her
hands, that were hiding her face.

On beholding it, he looked at her a moment in silence. His countenance
changed. He took her hand in his, raised his eyes to heaven, but said
nothing.

The apprehensions which Dr. Harrington’s report, guarded as it was, had
raised in Emmeline’s mind, made her anxious for further advice; and yet
she feared to alarm Fitzhenry by proposing it: but at her first word, he
understood her, and calmly said—“Do whatever you like, whatever will
ease _your_ mind.” And she wrote immediately to Doctor Baillie.

During the days that passed till his arrival, she made an effort to
throw back from her heart the miserable anxiety that was oppressing it,
and to pursue her usual occupations. Many a burning tear stole down her
cheek in silence and solitude; but she always met her husband with a
smile; and if he ever saw traces of her feelings on her countenance, he
forbore noticing them.

With sensations of apprehension not to be described, Emmeline, at last,
on the day he had appointed, saw Baillie drive up to the door. She felt
that her fate hung on his opinion. Dr. Harrington had come to meet him;
and after a short private conversation between the two medical men, they
proceeded, with Emmeline, into their patient’s room. Fitzhenry welcomed
them with cheerfulness; talked for some time of the news of the day, and
on indifferent subjects, to Baillie; and then turning to Emmeline, who
had been unequal to the exertion of a single word during their
conversation,—

“Lady Fitzhenry,” said he, “you must leave me to say my catechism to Dr.
Baillie alone. I want too to make serious complaints of you,” added he,
gaily; “of your obstinacy and disobedience; of the way in which you sit
up all night, destroying your health and bloom.”

Baillie made some attempt at a compliment; but his kind heart felt for
the anguish he saw painted on her countenance; and, unable to answer
him, Emmeline in silence left the room.

Those who have felt their very existence depend on one word, may imagine
how she passed the cruel, anxious, long half-hour that now elapsed. At
length, the door of her room slowly opened, and Fitzhenry himself,
leaning on his stick, came in alone. His face was flushed; and though he
forced a smile, on entering, Emmeline plainly read in it an expression
that was like a death-knell to her heart and hopes. She flew up to him,
and helped him to a couch. After a moment’s pause, drawing her towards
him—

“Emmeline,” said he; “dearest! we have suffered too much, and too long,
from concealing our feelings from each other, for me to have courage to
undertake to keep another secret from you, although it is one which I
know will pain you.” Emmeline’s pallid face showed she was but too well
prepared for what he was going to say. “I have for some time suspected
my real situation,” added he; “but I was determined to learn the truth;
and I knew Baillie’s sensible upright honesty would not, at my serious
request, conceal it from me. I required of him to give me his candid
opinion as to my health.”

Fitzhenry paused; Emmeline clung to him, as if to stifle what more he
had to say; but he continued, though in a faltering voice.

“I had hoped it might have been otherwise; I had hoped, for your sake,
that we might have been allowed to live for some little time at least,
happily together; but that God whom you have taught me to worship and
submit to, no doubt judges wisely; and, we must, I fear, look to our
approaching, final separation.”

At these words, poor Emmeline could no longer command herself; an
agonized scream escaped from her bursting heart, as she sank on the
floor before him.

“My Emmeline! my dear Emmeline!” he cried, endeavouring to raise her in
his feeble arms—“Spare me—I entreat you—I cannot bear to see you suffer
thus—have pity on me.”

“I will, I will,” she almost convulsively exclaimed, “but this is
too—too much for me.”

“You mistake me, Emmeline,” said he, endeavouring to calm the agony he
had caused. “There may be hope yet; Baillie is you know famous for
seeing every thing _en noir_—he was very plain-spoken with me, for I
forced him to be so; but recollect, Emmeline,” added he, endeavouring to
cheer his voice, “even Baillie may be mistaken, and while there is life
there is hope: before winter, we are to go to a warmer climate; you will
pray to heaven for me, and your prayers, dearest, will perhaps be heard.
They have already once restored us to each other; they may do so again.
I should not have said all this to you, I believe, but it is so
necessary to me now to conceal nothing from you, that I could not have
borne the load alone; but, for God’s sake, dear Emmeline, compose
yourself, and for my sake, bear up.”

And for his sake, she did exert herself; for of what is the female
character not capable, when nerved by strong affection? All was settled
for their leaving England the beginning of October, when they were to
repair to Lisbon; till then, it was thought that the climate of
Hampshire would be better for Fitzhenry than that of Portugal. The
season was unusually fine; and, sometimes, when well enough to wander a
little way from the house, the balmy air, and cheering sounds and sights
of a fine autumn, seemed to revive him; and, if ever he prolonged his
walk one yard further than he had done on the preceding day—if he had
ever appeared rather more cheerful—his voice stronger—Emmeline, to whose
young heart happiness was so necessary, then again, for the moment, gave
way to delightful anticipations. Had she ventured to look back, and
trace from week to week the rapid progress of the fatal disease, that
was fast hurrying its victim to the grave, she could not have indulged
even such momentary gleams of hope, but then also, she could not have
performed her hard task with the courage she did.

Fitzhenry was generally calm, and even cheerful; and he sometimes talked
of what they would do on their return to Arlingford; and projected
alterations and improvements in the place; but all such plans for the
future, usually ended in a sigh, and were listened to in mournful
silence by his wretched wife; and although he thus forced himself to
appear interested in worldly affairs, yet, by the turn his conversation
now commonly took, it was plain to perceive that the whole tone of his
mind was completely changed; and when Emmeline proposed reading to him,
he always selected such books as led to reflection, to God, and to a
future world.

Their wedding-day, the 19th of August, was the last on which he left the
house; his exertions to appear cheerful on that day, had been so much
beyond his strength, that they had exhausted him. The next, he could not
leave his room. A fortnight more, and he could scarcely raise himself
from his couch. The end of September came, and the preparations for
their departure for Lisbon continued to be made, no one having the heart
to countermand them, although it was very evident to all, that he would
never quit his present home, but for that, where he would be for ever at
rest. As his bodily strength failed, his mind seemed to gain fresh
vigour, and to soar above the cares and sufferings of this transitory
life. Resignation was an easier task to him, than to the wretched being
who, strong in youth and health, was doomed to remain in that world from
which she saw her every joy fast departing. But she never complained;
she never wept; at least, her tears were ever concealed from him for
whom they flowed. With a steady voice, she read to him of the peace, the
bliss of heaven—of forgiveness to penitent sinners; and, when she saw
her husband’s eyes raised to that heaven in humble submission to its
decrees, she clasped her hands beside him in silence; and if a distinct
prayer escaped from her meek heart, it was to implore that she might be
released with him from this world of suffering.

One night, after she had read to him that beautiful Essay of Miss
Bowdler’s, on the Advantages of Sickness: “I am sure, Emmeline,” said
he, in a faint voice, “it will ever be a comfort and joy to you to
think, that through your means I have been saved from destruction. When
I think what I was only a short twelve-month ago, I bless God for the
change, although brought about by such cruel means. Oh! if I could but
live my life over again,” he added vehemently: “if I could but feel once
more the strength and health of mind and body, of which I made so bad a
use; if I could but see you, my own Emmy, the blooming light-hearted
girl you were when I married you, when I so cruelly scorned and
neglected you, how superlatively happy I should be. But all is over now;
the past cannot be recalled, and there is no future for me in this
world; and yet, convinced as I am of this, do you know that even now I
sometimes, during the long, tedious, sleepless hours of night, still
foolishly indulge in vain dreams of happiness, and picture to myself our
future life here; I see you admired by every one—the charm, the ornament
of my home, (for proud, worldly ideas will still cling to me.) I fancy I
see that innocent beaming smile I once saw—I hear that joyous laugh I
used to hear till my unkindness silenced it; in fancy, we ride together,
we _waltz_ together,” said he, forcing a faint smile: “and this perfect
earthly bliss, which providence offered me, I rejected and
spurned—spurned you, who would have made my home a heaven to me, and not
one word of reproach have I heard from you. Oh, Emmeline, if you were
less kind to me, I believe I should suffer less bitterly; that smile,
that look of love cuts me to the very soul. There is only one comfort of
which you have not been deprived by me, that of an approving conscience,
and the hope of happiness beyond the grave; for in heaven we shall be
again united, and by your means. I trust I am not too presumptuous, but
the entire resignation with which I look to approaching death, though
now possessed of every blessing this world can give, and the hope with
which I anticipate meeting you, my guardian angel, in the next, gives me
a strong feeling of confidence, that my past errors are blotted out.”

Fitzhenry’s voice became choked, he sank back and closed his eyes, and
for some time they both remained silent.

“I have talked too much,” he at length said; “I am rather exhausted, and
at times I feel more low without knowing why. I think I shall sleep, so
good night; God bless you, my Emmeline:” and he kissed her pale
tear-bedewed cheek, then turned his head away, and for about an hour all
was quiet. Fitzhenry never moved, and Emmeline trusted he was getting
some refreshing rest; he had coughed less that day, his pulse had
appeared to her to be quieter; and as she clasped her hands in humble
supplication, a faint gleam of hope even then shot through her sorrowful
heart.

“Oh! God of mercy, if possible, spare him!” she ejaculated with such
fervency, that her lips, unconsciously to herself, uttered the sounds.
Fearful that she might have disturbed him, she went softly to the couch
on which he was lying. He directly held out to her his feeble hand: “I
am not asleep,” said he, in a hollow altered tone, that made her
shudder; “I cannot sleep. I heard your prayer, my Emmeline, but it
cannot be; the decree is past; and, while yet I can, I have a favour to
ask of you, though I am sure, beforehand, you will grant it. In my
writing-desk you will find a letter—when I am gone—send it to—to
Florence. Do not start, dearest,—it is my wish, my last request that you
will read it—I have purposely left it open. But I would like to die in
peace with all—even with her. A time may come when, like me, she may
regret the past; and then it will be a comfort to her to know that I
forgave her the evil she was the cause of to us both—and also it
relieves my heart to ask forgiveness of her for what injury I have done,
what pain I may have inflicted upon her. As for you, my own Emmeline, I
know I should only grieve you if I were to ask for your forgiveness. I
am sure I have it,” said he, as he imprinted a fond kiss on her
quivering lips: “Heaven reward you with its best blessings! When you see
Pelham again, you will for my sake be kind to him. Poor Pelham! he loved
me most truly!—he loves you too, Emmeline.”

Fitzhenry paused, and fixed his languid, glazing eyes on her face; he
seemed as if anxious to say more, but he only sighed deeply; and, after
a few minutes’ silence, taking from under the pillow Emmeline’s
prayer-book, which he had always kept since that day on which he had
renewed to her his marriage vow: “And now, Emmeline,” said he, “read to
me that prayer for the sick.”

In silence she complied, for she had taught her breaking heart to bear
such trials: she had learnt to stifle her sobs, to swallow her bitter
tears.

“Blessings on thee, my love,” he said, when she had finished; “your
voice soothes me; your prayers do me so much good. But there is still
another I would have you read—that for the dying.”

Emmeline looked at him aghast—his countenance had within the last hour
visibly changed—death was upon it—her blood chilled in her veins; but,
making a desperate effort, with a tremulous voice, broken by convulsive
sobs, she began to read. When she came to these words, “Look graciously
on thy servant, O Lord! give him unfeigned repentance for the errors of
his past life,” Fitzhenry’s hand pressed Emmeline’s more closely with a
sort of nervous, convulsive grasp. She continued to read—his hand
stiffened—grew cold——all was over——.

A loud shriek brought the attendants from the adjoining room: they
raised poor Emmeline’s lifeless form from the ground; with difficulty
unloosed her hand from that of her husband, and carried her to her bed.

When consciousness, after a lapse of some days, at length returned, she
saw her father and mother hanging over her—but Fitzhenry, her adored
Fitzhenry, was for ever shrouded in the close, cold habitation of death!


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER VIII.

           Yet still, thou mourner, o’er the death-bed stand,
           Still honour, as thou canst, the breathless clay,
           Still bring thy flowers, and strew with pious hand,
           And weep behind the bier in slow array;
           And raise the stone, inscribe the record kind,
           And all thy heart’s vain tenderness reveal,
           And guard the dust, in awful hope resigned,
           And bow to heaven, that formed thee thus to feel.


_Extract from a Letter from the Rev. E. Pelham, to Sir George Pelham,
minister at Vienna._

    ——“You ask me if I can tell you any thing of Lady Fitzhenry.
    Being some little time ago on a visit to a friend at Poole, and
    anxious to be able to give you some more satisfactory account
    than mere common report, I resolved to drive over one Sunday,
    and attend divine service at the parish church of Arlingford, as
    I was told that she was generally there to be seen; and, hearing
    she lived perfectly retired, I did not like to intrude upon her
    with the offer of a visit.

    “You know it is now nearly a twelve-month since the death of
    poor Fitzhenry. The pew belonging to the Arlingford family, the
    pulpit, and communion table, are all still covered with black,
    and with the escutcheons and arms of the Fitzhenrys. When the
    church-bell had done ringing, Lady Fitzhenry, with her father
    and mother, came into the gallery. A deep black veil at first
    hid her face and nearly her whole person; but the church growing
    very hot, she at length put it aside.

    “Had I not previously known who it was, I certainly should not
    have recognised her. There is no trace of the laughing eyes, of
    the dimpled cheek, of the fresh gay young countenance, which I
    was acquainted with. Perhaps it was partly owing to contrast and
    to the quantity of black by which she was surrounded, but I
    thought I had never seen so pale a face. Still, though she has
    already lost much of the fresh beauty of youth, there is a charm
    in her faded sadness—an air of sentiment over her whole person,
    that more than compensates. Her hair was parted back on her
    marble-white forehead; and the only thing about her that was not
    black, was a gold chain, to which was hung a small watch. I am
    thus particular, for I know you wish for particulars—and I
    certainly never before paid such attention to the minutiæ of a
    woman’s dress.

    “During the service, Lady Fitzhenry appeared engrossed by it as
    one whose heart’s home is in heaven. When it was ended, all
    seemed respectfully to wait to let her pass; the village
    children eagerly watching for an opportunity to catch her eye in
    order to make their little obeisances, in the hope of a smile or
    kind word from her in return. I too might then have spoken to
    her, but a deep feeling of respect for her sorrows restrained
    me. I feared the sight of me might recall past days, and I did
    not like to intrude upon her.

    “When all were gone, I still loitered in the church, and the
    clergyman and I at last were left alone. Seeing me examining the
    Fitzhenry arms with interest, he came up to me; and, after some
    usual civilities had passed, I asked him whether Lord Fitzhenry
    was buried in the church.

    “‘Yes!’ he replied, pointing to a marble slab; ‘beneath that
    stone is the family vault. It is now about a year since I read
    over it the funeral service: and many such sad duties have I
    performed, many melancholy scenes of death have I been witness
    to; but never, I think, will the impression of that day be
    effaced from my memory. I remember it was unusually fine for the
    season, the bright sun forming such a striking contrast with the
    scene. It seemed to be a gratification to Lord Arlingford’s
    feelings to pay every possible outward mark of respect to his
    son, and in every way to testify his deep affliction for his
    loss; and, with this idea, he desired that no expense might be
    spared at his funeral. ‘I don’t think that would have been the
    way in which I should have indulged my grief,’ added the
    respectable old pastor; ‘but we show our feelings differently;’
    and certainly nothing could be more impressive than the sight of
    the long funeral procession, and the waving of the black banners
    and plumes, when moving slowly down the avenue that leads from
    the house to the village. The whole parish, even the county for
    many miles round attended; for Lord Fitzhenry was much and
    justly beloved—and many too of course came for the mere show. Of
    all this costly dismal pageant, what struck me with the
    strongest feelings of melancholy was, the hearse, drawn by Lord
    Fitzhenry’s own beautiful horses, which by his father’s orders
    had been trained to a slow pace for the purpose; but, although
    pains had been taken to break them into their mournful duty,
    yet, excited and fretted I suppose by the crowd around them, and
    the trappings with which they were covered, it was with
    difficulty they could be restrained; and when, at last, they
    were stopped at the gate of the church-yard, they proudly pawed
    the ground, and tossed their heads, as in the days when they
    drew their master in all the pride of youth and health, totally
    unconscious of the last sad office they were then performing for
    him. Lord Arlingford and Mr. Benson both attended, and were much
    affected at the ceremony, particularly the latter.

    “‘Late in the evening, I was,’ continued my narrator—‘roused
    from no agreeable reverie, by being told that Lord Arlingford’s
    carriage was driving through the village towards the church, and
    that one of the servants had come to beg that the door of it
    might be opened without delay; I immediately hurried thither. It
    was a bright moonlight night, and I saw Mr. and Mrs. Benson, who
    had already left the carriage, help out of it an almost lifeless
    figure; they supported her along—for, as you may guess it was
    poor Lady Fitzhenry. It seems, that nothing could divert her
    from the idea of visiting the vault before it was again closed,
    and at last the desire became so strong, that they thought it
    best to comply with her wishes. Her hysteric screams, when she
    threw herself on the coffin, still ring in my ears; and it was
    with difficulty they tore her away from it. Twice, as if agony
    of mind had given her more than usual strength, of body, she
    broke from them. I really feared for her reason, under the
    influence of such wild despair, and at length, by force, we
    carried her back to the carriage. By Mrs. Benson’s desire, I
    accompanied them to the house: she wished to try the effects of
    my prayers and exhortations on the poor sufferer. When she was
    laid on her couch, and had been given some composing medicine, I
    went to her. It seemed as if all was then over with her in this
    world. Not a tear fell from her fixed eyes. ‘He is gone—quite
    gone—I shall never see him again—never—never,’ she repeated,
    apparently quite unconscious of her words, and with a horrible
    composure of voice, although there was wildness in her looks;
    for she appeared as if gazing on some invisible form. I knelt by
    her, I read, I said all that I thought was most likely to rouse
    her from her stupor of grief, and move her feelings; and at
    last, after one or two convulsive heavings of her bosom, tears
    came to her relief. She fell sobbing into her mother’s arms; and
    I left that excellent mother to give her all the comfort she was
    then capable of receiving, that of sympathy and affection.’

    “The kind-hearted old man here stopped, much overcome with his
    recollections.

    “‘Lady Fitzhenry has, I believe, resided here ever since the
    death of her husband?’ I said, as soon as I saw he had
    sufficiently recovered himself. ‘Yes,’ he replied: ‘by
    agreement, and the wording of the deed, which, at the time of
    Lord and Lady Fitzhenry’s marriage, saved this estate from
    falling into the hands of Lord Arlingford’s creditors, (it not
    being, like the rest of the property, entailed,) it became hers
    in the event of their having no children.’ ‘Does she do much
    good here?’ I enquired: ‘has she taken to the only employment
    left for the unhappy?’ ‘Oh! she is the friend and hope of all
    the poor of the neighbourhood,’ rejoined the good pastor with
    fervency: ‘at first, indeed, she was so absorbed by her grief,
    that she seemed to heed nothing which was passing around her,
    and I have seen her mechanically bestow charity to any one who
    chanced to cross her path; but her good mother gradually brought
    her to make it the occupation and interest of her life. Alas! I
    fear she has now no other. She is indefatigable in her exertions
    to do good; and may the happiness she bestows on others be at
    length repaid back on herself, and at least bring her peace and
    comfort, if not enjoyment! I understand she is in general quite
    calm, and even, at times, cheerful; she never, in the most
    distant manner, alludes to her loss, or to the past year of her
    life, and hastily turns off all conversation that can possibly
    lead to any circumstance connected with it; even with her
    parents, since the very first, she has maintained this same
    reserve. It seems as if her husband’s memory was buried within
    her own heart, and that she felt the grave had shut too close
    over such an adored being for its sacredness ever to be
    disturbed.’ I further learnt from my companion, that Mr. Benson
    has given up all share both in his mercantile concerns and in
    the banking-house; that his spirits and health seem to be both
    much broken; that he has lost all his bustling activity, and
    that he has just purchased a small place in the neighbourhood of
    Arlingford, intending there to pass the remainder of his days.

    “By this time, we had reached the door of the parsonage; its
    owner invited me in, but I had already loitered much, and could
    delay my departure no longer. Finding that I could return to my
    place of destination by crossing Arlingford Park, I gave my name
    at the lodge, and being admitted, although not without
    difficulty, I drove as near the house as I could venture. The
    hatchment darkened the windows of the principal room—many of the
    others were closed. How different the whole place looked from
    what it did only a few months back, when I met you there at the
    time of the large shooting party which Fitzhenry had collected!
    Poor fellow! I used to abuse him then for his strange
    unaccountable conduct and coldness towards his pretty,
    interesting little wife; but I believe others had worked upon
    him and done mischief there. The place seemed kept in good order
    as formerly; but all was silent, and had a look of desertion. I
    did not see a living creature, except some horses at grass,
    which I recognized to be Fitzhenry’s favourite hunters. They
    eagerly pricked up their ears when I past, and threw back their
    long-neglected manes, as if a carriage was now an unusual sight;
    but when I had driven by, they quietly returned to their food.

    “I travelled on many miles before I could get poor Lady
    Fitzhenry out of my head; pondering too with some compunction on
    a silly report to which I had carelessly given credence. The
    said report concerned her and you; for you must know, George,
    that the thoughtless, gossiping world, judging by its own
    unfeeling self, even while Lady Fitzhenry is still shaded by her
    weeds, and you are closely fixed at your political post at
    Vienna, have already married you to each other.

    “Remember, I am not so indiscreet as to ask how far this story
    comes home to yourself. That you admired Lady Fitzhenry was
    certainly very evident to my observation; but how far that
    admiration may lead you in forming wishes for the future, I
    can’t pretend to say. Indeed, I almost fear the account I have
    now been giving, may destroy, or at least throw the gloom of
    doubt over some flattering vision of connubial bliss. For, (I
    may be mistaken,) but if I can judge of woman’s countenance, and
    by it of woman’s constancy, I should say, the first could never
    beam with joy again, and that her every affection is for ever
    buried in the grave of her husband.

    “Time will prove whether I am right; for your sake, I hope I am
    not.”



                                THE END.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           ERRATA TO VOL. II.
                       (See Transcriber’s Notes.)


Page 5, _for_ her heart sunk, _read_ sank.

Page 5, _for_ then when fearful of betraying herself she at others, &c.
        _read_ at others, fearful of betraying herself, she suddenly,
        &c.

Page 51, _after_ beneath the scrutiny, _omit_ of her rival.

Page 66, _after_ drive up, _omit_ their vehicles.

Page 86, _after_ out of the carriage, _read_ she desired, &c.

Page 104, _for_ Mr. Benson, _read_ Mrs. Benson.



                                LONDON:

          IBOTSON AND PALMER, PRINTERS, SAVOY STREET, STRAND.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ The Errata have been applied to this text.
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.
    ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).





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