Abbildungen der Seite

Bruce, and her suspicions of that artless girl's designs, were suspended in the ardour of her present pursuit, and she seemed to think of nothing and to care for nothing but how she should secure the triumph of her vanity. Every one noticed the change ; (excepting Ellen, who had of late almost wholly withdrawn from the family circle) indeed, it was so manifest that Miss Deborah, who had taken a decided dislike to Caroline, and who was rather remarkable for the inveteracy of her opinions, was heard to say, that “ since the girl's sweetheart had come, she was as bright as a September day after the fog was lifted; but for her part she liked to see people have sunshine within them like Ellen.” This declaration was made by Miss Debby in an imprudently loud tone of voice, as she stood at a window gazing on Mr. Redwood's carriage that had been ordered for an afternoon's drive. Mr. Redwood, Caroline, and Mrs. Westall were already in the carriage, and Charles Westall had returned to the parlour in quest of some article Mr. Redwood had forgotten; while he was looking for it, Deborah's comment fell on his ear, and probably gave a new direction to his thoughts, for during the ride Caroline rallied him on his extraordinary pensiveness; and finally perceiving that his gravity resisted all her efforts to dissipate it, she proposed that if he had not lost the use of his limbs as well as of his tongue, he should alight from the carriage with her and walk to a cottage, to which they perceived a direct path through a field, while the carriage approached by the high road which ran along the lake shore and was circuitous. Westall assented rather with politeness than eagerness; but when he was alone with Caroline, when she roused all her powers to charm him, he yielded to the influence of her beauty and her vivacity. Never had she appeared so engaging

never so beautiful — the afternoon was delicious——their path ran along the skirts of an enchanting wood-its soft shadows fell over them, the birds poured forth their melody; and, in short, all nature conspired to stimulate the lover's imagination and to quicken his sensibility. Charles forgot the sage resolutions he had made to withhold his declaration till he had satisfied certain doubts that had sometimes obtruded on him, that all in Caroline was not as fair and lovely as it seemed; he forgot Miss Deborah's hint —forgot every thing but the power and the presence of his beautiful companion, and only hesitated for language to express what his eyes had already told her. At this moment both his and Miss Redwood's attention was withdrawn from themselves to a little girl who appeared at the door of the cottage, from which they were now not many yards distant. On perceiving them she bounded over the door step, then stopped, put up her

hand to shade her eyes from the sun, and gazed fixedly on them for a moment, then again sprang forward, again stopped, covered her eyes with both her hands, threw herself at full length on the grass, laid her ear to the ground and seemed for a moment to listen intently ; she then rose, put her apron to her eyes and appeared to be weeping, while she retraced her way languidly to the cottage. Caroline and Westall, moved by the same impulse, quickened their pace, and in a few moments reached the cottage door, to which a woman had been attracted by the sobs of the child, and was expostulating with her in an earnest tone.

“God help us, Peggy, you'll just ruin all if you go on in this way;" she paused on perceiving that the child had attracted the attention of the strangers ; and in reply to Westall's asking what ailed the little girl, she said, “it's just her simplicity, Sir; but if you and the lady will condescend to walk into my

poor place here, I will tell you all about it, or Peggy shall tell it herself, for when she gets upon it her tongue runs faster than mine : but bless me, here comes a grand coach-look up, Peggy, you never saw a real coach in your life.” Peggy now let fall the apron with which she had covered her face-a face if not beautiful, full of feeling and intelligence. She seemed instantly to forget her affliction, whatever it was, in the pleasure of gazing on the spectacle of the real coach. " Ah, aunt Betty,” she exclaimed, “it is the grand sick gentleman that is stay. ing at Mr. Lenox's.” The carriage drew up to the door, and Mrs. Westall and Mr. Redwood, attracted by the uncommonly neat appearance of the cottage, alighted and followed Caroline and Charles, who had already entered it. The good woman, middle-aged and of a cheerful countenance, was delighted with the honour conferred on her, bustled around to furnish seats for her guests

« ZurückWeiter »