Abbildungen der Seite

again; but he will pine away in the chill of the heart's loneliness, and die.

My father must watch over him; the Wentworths must allure him from his dismal home; they can sing and play to him. Julia is very pretty, and good as an angel, and perhaps she may win him to cheerfulness. I wonder whether he likes such beautiful hair and soft blue eyes ? I think he must, for who could not admire, love, Julia Wentworth ?”

It does not require a very long period of time for congenial minds to become familiarized to each other. In less than a month, Mr. Mortimer had become so intimate with Lucy and her father, that he was as naturally expected to appear at tea-time as the urn itself; the extra cup and saucer, and the chair for him, being placed, as a matter of course.

Lucy, ceasing to make a stranger of him, pursued her usual innocent amusements the same in bis presence or absence, which afforded him infinite pleasure, as banishing restraint and the idea of intruding on her privacy. Nothing, indeed, could be more delightful than the easy, unceremonious terms on which they were now.

There certainly was no cause for surprise in all this. The farms were close together; Mr. Mortimer was a complete novice in cropping: and Mr. Harcourt was so ready to give him advice. To be sure, in his own ardour on the subject, he did not perceive the listless apathy of his neighbour, and that he entered much more warmly. into Lucy's discussions of her favourite authors,-pointing out the most striking passages,-admiring the taste, delicacy, and discrimination she displayed, than in listening to the advantages of broadcast over drilling. Neither did the benevolent and unsuspicious old man observe the vivacity and cheerfulness with which he joined Lucy in her singing, nor how beautifully their voices blended in the simple and touching melodies they simultaneously selected. He saw and felt all was happiness and harmony around, and he did not ask why, considering that heaven alone dispensed the blessings he and his darling enjoyed.

The conversation frequently turned on Lord Morton, of whom Mr. Mortimer had seen much during the preceding summer, in Italy. Mr. Harcourt regretting, with truly patriotic feeling, that a man who had it in his power to do such unlimited good at home, should waste his time, money, and, perhaps, his health, in the frivolous and enervating dissipations of a foreign country. “I never pass the fine old family man. sion, I deciare, but my heart contracts with a sudden spasm of pain, that its walls are cold, and its rooms silent and empty, when the echoes of gladness and hospitality should resound from them. Be assured, sir, that a resident landlord, on a large domain, is considered as a special providence by all, but by the

poor especially, who are such sufferers from his absence. The smoke curling from the chimneys, and the fire dancing on the windows of the Hall, as the peasant wends his weary way, of a winter's evening, strike like a sunbeam to bis heart, for he knows that there he will find employment in health, and assistance in sickness."

"I hope the day is not far distant, when my cousin will be again among those whose well-being is so dear to him. At present, he is far too ill to encounter the fatigue of travelling, or the excitement of a grateful tenantry.

“Lord Morton ill? how grieved I am to hear it! How grieved Lucy is, too, I am sure! Look! she is as pale as death! He is such a favonrite with her.”

“My dear father, your expressions are too strong," exclaimed Lucy, a vivid blush now succeeding the recent extreme pallor of her countenance; “Lord Morton is not a favourite of mine: I would not presume to imagine him so for a moment. I know what you owe him, and am grateful accordingly.”.

“You have changed your opinion considerably, then, my love, since you spoke in such rapturous terms of his lordship to me; when, to save your poor old father from a workhouse, you, with all your bashfulness, went boldly to the Hall, and pleaded like an angel for me. O Lucy, my dear child, do not deny your partiality for the best of human beings! It does honour to your heart to esteem such a man. Even his lordship's cousin must admire


for it." “Oh! if I thought it possible,- if I could believe that Lord Morton still retained only a portion of Miss Harcourt's favour. able opinion, that his memory was not utterly obnoxious to her,” exclaimed Mr. Mortimer, with trembling emotion, bending his eyes imploringly on the embarassed girl, "it would make me unboundedly happy, for his sake, for I love my cousin as a brother.

“Then be happy ; for I am positive, before you came, there was not a man on earth for whom Lucy cared more. Now she only speaks as she does from the perverseness and fickleness inherent in even the best of women. She never mentioned his name without hesitation, nor heard me mention it without a blush; and does that look like indifference or dislike? No, no, what she says proceeds from the waywardness of youth; for she must, and ought to cherish his remembrance tenderly and holily, for he cannot have done any thing to cause my child to think otherwise of him who has saved her father from destitution !"

The old man paused, overcome by sensibility, while Lucy, bursting into a passionate flood of tears, hurried into the garden, to escape the anguish of further argument.

The moon was just rising, the air cool and refreshing; and, in the hope of composing her mind, or rather, that Mr. Mor-, timer would take his departure, she seated herself on the garden-seat, and was soon absorbed in bitter and heart-rending retrospections.

“Was it compunction made the gay and thoughtless Lord Morton the invalid he was now represented ? Was it compunction made him so good, so beneficent, so amiable? Had his prediction become true, that all around her should breathe his name in blessings? Strange, mysterious coincidence! but so it was, even Mr. Mortimer's penetrating voice sounding more harmonious when expatiating on his cousin's worth. His eyes grow brighter, his smile more winning, when describing that cousin's godlike qualities. Oh! how is it to be deplored that one who appears a seraph to every one else, should be remembered by me as a demon!”

These reflections were interrupted by the approach of Mr. Mortimer, who timidly seated himself beside her.

“Is it really possible,” he said, in a tremulous tone, while his heart beat audibly, “that Lord Morton once enjoyed the high opinion your father protested he did, Miss Harcourt? Oh fool! oh madman, to forfeit it!”

“I will not deny,” replied Lucy, aroused to the utmost astonishment by the unusual energy of Mr. Mortimer's manner, “ that I once felt all the admiration for his lordship which my father has so injudiciously revealed. But

“ Now you hate him utterly.”
“No, not hate him ; only despise him.”

“ And what can be worse? *Oh! how can you, with your sweet nature, be so unforgiving?"

“Sir, there are injuries of that deep and lasting description which even the most placable could never pardon. But enough of this. I do not understand, nor do I seek to penetrate the mystery, why you so sedulously avail yourself of every occasion to become the advocate of your cousin. I can assure you,

horever, that any other subject, even the most indifferent, would be more pleasing to me.

“Every time his name is mentioned, I feel my candour painfully taxed, my dignity insulted; hence, the hesitation, the confusion, my precious father, in his blessed ignorance of the awful truth, imputes to such a different cause; for, there are things only known to heaven and myself, which I have endured to save that most beloved father from, as he justly declares, a workhouse!”

“And to me, Lucy, to me! Lord Morton has told me all !"

“How dared he, how could he expose the cold, calculating baseness of his heart? and how could you, after such a con

deed you

fession, think of him as aught but as the greatest monster? Insolent wretch, to mix my name in a tale of common and, doubtlessly, triumphantly boasted seduction to a stranger. But he presumed on the silence a father's BREAD compelled me to observe, not to have this baser lie contradicted !” “O Lucy, be more merciful, I entreat; you wrong him, in

do! If you only knew with what reverence he breathed your spotless name, with what tears he deplored his rash conduct, with what prayers he sought to expiate it, you would forgive him, you would accept his repentance, as an oblation to your offended virtue."

“Upon one condition, and one alone, I do and will forgive him; which is, that his name, from this hour, is never uttered in our private conversations. Before my father, it must be, or he would wonder at its banishment-but when I think what I might have been, had I, driven by poverty, listened to his vile suggestions,-when I think what I might have been, and what I am now,

“ The beloved, the adored of the most sincere, the most devoted of men !” exclaimed Mr. Mortimer, straining her ardently to his bosom. “O my cousin, your wish is fulfilled! 'Go, Edward,' he said, when I parted from him, while mutual tears flooded our clasped hands,-'go, and win the love of the angelic Lucy Harcourt, and repay her by the purity of your affection, for the profligate passion the wretched Morton once proffered her!""

Dear, dear, Edward !" murmured the subdued Lucy, almost stified by her sobs, as her head fell upon his shoulder, "you have triumphed! Yes, from my soul, I now feel that your cousin is forgiven by me. Poor Lord Morton, may he, at last, be as happy in a virtuous attachment too !"

“Amen, my sweet; a thousand times, amen!” replied Mr. Mortimer, as with a fond kiss on her up-turned brow, he bade her that delicious “good night,” which lovers, after the first fond declaration, breathe so earnestly and passionately at parting.


“ Youth is a flower, the fruit of which is love, Happy is he who gathers it after having seen it grow gradually ripe."

Pindar. “Now welcome Lady! exclaimed the youth,

This castle is thine and these dark woods all.
She believed him wild, but his words were truth,
For Ellen is Lady of Rosna Hall!
And dearly the Lord of Rosna loves
What William the stranger woo'd and wed:
And the light of bliss, in those lordly groves,

Is pure as it shone in the lowly shed.” -Moore. MR. HARCOURT was not surprised at Mr. Mortimer's affection, he thought it perfectly natural that he should love his fair and gentle Lucy; nor was he surprised at his urging the very earliest day, to secure his treasure, because he remembered his own fluttering impatience, his own almost painful anxiety, to make sure of the felicity, which appeared too exquisite to be real, on a similar and far-off occasion, when her sweet mother, her very counterpart, had blushed, rather than spoken, her promise to be his. But, he did feel surprised, and that to a most con. siderable extent, to learn, a few days after every thing was arranged for a quiet wedding, that it was Lord Morton's intention to be at the Hall, ill as he was, on the morning of the ceremony, to give a breakfast to the whole nuptial party.

This was most unwelcome intelligence to Lucy, who hoped to steal unostentatiously from the church, to the “Paddocks,” trusting to dear old Martha, for the comfortable breakfast her warm heart would prepare for her foster-child. She concealed her chagrin, however, not to cast a shadow of gloom over the evident delight the news afforded both her father, and Edward, whose happiness was still far beyond any selfish disappointment of her own.

Little preparation was necessary for the modest nuptials of Lucy Harcourt, who, true to the unassuming lowliness of her unoffending disposition, begged to have no display to excite the envy of the less fortunate, so, that only charity and good-will might attend her to the altar. In compliance with this, her last maiden wish, her dress was allowed to be as simple as possible, her DIAMONDS were the tears which glistened in the eyes of sufferers her bounty had relieved, and her PEARLS were fresh gathered snowdrops from her mother's grave, which clus. tering in her bosom, and wreathing her straw bonnet, lent a sanctifying beauty to her charming, truly bride-like appearance.

« ZurückWeiter »