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friend Mr. Wentworth, and a rather rattling one of mine, to bear you company. I regret business of rather an important nature, obliges me to leave you for a short time; but try to enjoy yourself, and do not go until I return, mind that.'
I found really a splendid dinner, excellent wine; and, as if my taste had been especially consulted, some remarkably fine old pineapple-ale. Mr. Wentworth was, as usual, full of conversational anecdote, and information; and as for Mr. Greville, I never met with so agreeable a companion, he was quite at home on every subject, even to a thorough knowledge of practical farming I do assure, you, Lucy, with all my experience, I gained many useful hints from him. Who would have expected, that a fashionable young man could be acquainted with the best manner of preventing the wireworm, that deadly foe to the turnip? Yet so it was !
“I was not aware of the time, until it struck six o'clock ; when Lord Morton returned, and I regretted to see, he looked out of spirits, and jaded to a degree. I was just going to express my sorrow for it, when Mr. Greville, with a loud laugh, began to rally him most unmercifully on his crest-fallen appearance, as he took the liberty of terming his lordship’s evident depression; protesting to me, it was only in consequence of the bad sport he had had, that he was so out of sorts; that the game he went after was so wild he could not get near it; and hence, his disappointment and chagrin. So you see, Lucy, what a trifle disturbs the equanimity of those who have only to struggle against the lassitude of luxury! Ah, if the powers of his really fine mind had been quickened to a healthier tone, by the bracing gust of wholesome self-exertion, he would not have found cause of sorrow and complaining, in the paltry failure of a pursuit after mere pleasure; and to designate the affair, a matter of importance, too! But no doubt, it was so to one, who has never had a higher aim for his manlier enegies !
“Now, go to bed, my dearest, it is much beyond your usual hour; and you look almost as fatigued and melancholy as Lord Morton, despite my good news. I need not ask you to remember him in your prayers. My Lucy has too grateful and loving a heart, not to breathe the name of her father's benefactor, first to heaven, to night. I have lain awake many, many nights, for anguish and distress : and to-night, I feel as if I should keep the vigils of joy!
“ Go! go ! darling, and let me see your cheek blooming and your eye bright, in the morning. I shall rise with the lark ; for I have a great and glorious task before me,—that of endeavouring not to abuse the confidence of a benevolent man,- that of shewing my gratitude to the Almighty, for raising me from the brink of despair, and setting me on the highest pinnacle of hope,—and that of proving to my fellow labourers, that, with a landlord, who is inclined to mercy and forbearance, the honesthearted can overcome all difficulties, and triumph over adversity !"
“Good night! good night, and God bless you, dear, dear father," said the affectionate girl, fervently embracing her father; who returned her kiss, with four-fold ardour, as he replied, “And God bless you, my treasure !!
“But well I wote that to an heavy hart
Thou art the roote and nourse of bitter cares,
Night, Spenser's Faery Queene.
Lucy was indeed glad to avail herself of her father's permission, to escape to the silence and solitude of her own little chamber. Not to sleep,—that, in the present excited state of her feelings, was out of the question. But, to collect her thoughts, to reflect on the stirring occurrences of the past most EVENTFUL day of her, hitherto, monotonous and unvaried life. To endeavour, if possible, to account for Lord Morton's generous conduct to her father, after her proud rejection of his insulting offers, his threats at parting, and his evident despair and mortification on his reaching home, palpable, even to her unsuspicious father; and poorly glozed over by the affected raillery of his friend. And, more than all, to decide on the plans she must pursue with her father, respecting those offers, whether to inform him of them or not.
Strong and fearful was the debate in her young, unassisted mind! Many a prayer breathed to heaven for guidance, many a tear of anguish, regret, terror, and almost, love, hallowed that obscure room in the darkness and hush of its midnight stillness! It seemed to her, as if Lord Morton had repented of his baseness, had sought to atone for it, in the most delicate and gratifying manner to her outraged sensibility; by shewing liberality and deference to the father she so reverenced. Had he not returned sorrowful, dejected, overwhelmed with a sense of shame and remorse? How else interpret the pensiveness and gloom her father had so pathetically described ? Yes! he was grieved for his fault, crime, indeed, and would therefore surely avoid a repetition of it!
It seemed to her cruel, unnecessary, uncalled for, to disturb the newly-acquired serenity, the full and holy confidence in the friend, actually believed to have been inspired by an especial Providence to succour him, which so soothingly cradled to peace her father's lately tempest-tossed bosom; quenching, ere it had attained half its meridian lustre, that hope, rising like another sun, to warm and invigorate the heart-blossoms, chilled and drooping beneath the nipping blast of the receding winter of penury; by stating to him the appalling interview she had had that very day, with the man his own lips were blessing, the man whom he had charged her to remember in her prayers !
Oh! could he survive the shock of knowing, that, instead of blessing him as a benefactor, he must curse him as a seducer, as the vile tamperer with his child's innocence, as a wretch so devoid of every generous emotion, as to take advantage of his poverty, to bribe her to her ruin? Oh! no, no, no, he must never know it, the revulsion of feeling would be his instant death.
Well, too, did she know, that his inflexible idea of honour would cause him to spurn the merest shadow of a favour, obtained at the remotest cost of his, or his child's integrity. Then, with a shudder of inward anguish, she suddenly remembered her oath, the promise she had given of holding it inviolate, to the dear old man, who trusted so implicitly to her word. But, as if the spirit of her mother suggested it to her, she also recollected the mental reservation she had providentially made whilst uttering that oath, “If I am in danger, I will fly to your bosom for shelter, as flies the dove from the impending storm." She was not in danger-she had, by her own courage, her own virtue, her own religion, faced and defied destruction. She had escaped the threatened tempest, she was safe; wherefore then rush' tremblingly and terror stricken to the shelter of that bosom, now, in all probability, engaged in pouring out its pious aspirations of praises and thanksgivings to God, for the late mercies vouchsafed ?
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“I too will join you, oh, my beloved father, in those prayers," she continued, sinking on her knees, by the side of her simple bed, "nor shall his name be forgotten, who has, despite all his fearful turpitude, removed the heavy hand of affliction, which was bowing you to the grave.” Oh! who requires the prayers of the good and virtuous so much as he, who, having the germs of excellence in his heart, finds them choked by the pleasures and vanities of life, those gigantic weeds, whose rapid growth nothing can check, no culture exterminate, save the slow and careful hand of humble and sincere piety? Oh! who requires so much the appeals of compassion, the pleadings of pity to the throne of grace, as he, who absorbed in the tumult of passion, the seductions of dissipation, the corruptions of sin, and the obliterating and torpedo-like deadness of criminal gratification, FORGETS TO PRAY FOR HIMSELF ?
“Quicken then, O gracious God, the seeds of reformation in that just awakening heart; teach it, that there are purer and higher joys for man, even on earth, than those springing from the turpid stream of vice and folly.
“Let this day be to Lord Morton, as it has been to me, one of trial, but victory; one of glorifying and worship unto thee, for a renewing of the spirit's faith, and a bright foretaste of the better things awaiting those, who, shunning temptation, struggle on in the narrow path thy hand hath strewn with thorns, for them to trample triumphantly on."
“In thy fair brow there's such a legend writ
Lucy rose, at a much later hour than usual, on the following morning, yet still languid and unrefreshed. The short intervals of sleep she had been able to obtain, were rendered
ineffective to restore her mental and corporeal powers, by disturbing and agitating dreams, which depicted, with all the accustomed distortions of those unreal mockeries, the events of the preceding day, heightened and magnified into scenes of terrible and inextricable perplexity.
As soon as her father had mounted his dear, and lately doomed gray cob, to ride leisurely over the farm now to be viewed through the microscopic lens of hope; she strolled into the garden, to trim her straggling rose-trees, and weed her much-neglected flower-beds, trusting to that healthy and reviving amusement, to remove the distracting headache, from which she was suffering.
Whilst thus engaged, her ear caught the sound of swiftly approaching wheels, and looking up, a few moments afterwards, she saw Lord Morton's travelling carriage pass the low gate, at a rapid pace.
She caught a slight glimpse of his lordship, who was leaning back in the corner of the carriage, apparently lost in meditation. He struck her as being pale, and out of spirits. Lucy felt a quick and startling pang of disappointment shoot through her bosom, that he did not deign to cast one farewell glance on the humble mansion whose inmates he had restored to, at least, comparative happiness. “Strange inconsistency!" she exclaimed, "alas, what PERMANENT good can be expected from a character so variable ? doubtless, he already repents the partial favour to my poor father, and condemus his inconsiderate generosity to him."
She was, at this moment, summoned into the house; a servant having arrived from the Hall
, by his lordship's express desire, bearing a basket of game and fruit for her father, and a most splendid bouquet and letter for herself. These she was on the point of declining, but the man, imagining he had fulfilled his commission, laid the flowers on the table, the letter by them, and bowing respectfully, hastily withdrew.
Attracted by its exquisite fragrance, Lucy took up the bouquet, to examine whence emanated its delicious perfume; she almost fancied Lord Morton must have personally superintended its arrangement, from the taste and elegance displayed. In the centre was one magnificent rose-odorata, with two or three just-expanding buds, a row of gardenias, white japonicas, and jasmine, surrounded by lilies of the valley, their beautiful green leaves lending a charming contrast to the uniform and dazzling whiteness of the flowers, the rose being almost as purely pale as the others.
A vivid blush overspread the cheek and brow of the attentive girl, at the idea, that, perhaps, in selecting only such flowers,