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then she repeated her thanks, and the daughter repeated her's also again and again; and somehow the thanks of the daughter came sweeter to me than those of the mother, although they were timidly expressed; and 1 began to feel embarrassed.
For the sake of saying something, I made known my own name, making a short allusion to the position of my father in the county where his estate was situate; a communication which, I observed, gave the mother a particular sort of satisfaction as conveying the assurance that her daughter had been assisted by one of unquestionable rank as a gentleman; but when I further mentioned that I was then at the university, I fancied that a certain sort of alarm became visible in the mamma's countenance; and shortly afterwards by a skilful manœuvre which was executed in an apparently indifferent manner but with admirable strategy, she contrived to place herself between her daughter and myself in a protective position. The reason for this did not occur to me at the time, but it afterwards struck me that it was from an instinctive dread of the "young gentlemen of the university" who at that time had the reputation of being very ardent and not very scrupulous in their researches after the sublime and beautiful.
The cottage was about nine miles from the town; the night was getting dark; as one robber had been abroad that evening, it occurred perhaps to the ladies that more than one might appear under cover of the darkness; and it seemed not only a duty of hospitality and politeness, but a positive obligation of gratitude not to expose me to the murderous attacks of midnight marauders on such an occasion. Such I guessed were their thoughts; and I perceived that the mamma was suffering under the very awkward dilemma of seeming to turn me out of doors, on the one hand, in a dark night, or of harbouring within her domestic walls so dangerous an inmate as an unknown and juvenile member of the suspicious university.
I saved her from the painful feeling of seeming ungrateful and of violating the laws of hospitality at the same time, by expressing the necessity which I was under of returning the same night; a communication which I perceived relieved her immensely, and which inspired her with so much good-will and confidence towards me, that in expressing her extreme and most painful regret that I could not allow her the opportunity of showing further at that time how grateful she was for the service which I had rendered to her daughter, she ventured to add that if at any time I should be passing that way, she hoped I would afford her the pleasure of repeating her thanks, in which she was sure her son, the lieutenant, would join not less sincerely than herself and her daughter Emily. Emily said nothing, but kept close to her mamma.
And so we parted, the mamma shaking hands with me cordially, and Emily courtesying, and then putting forth her hand timidly, which I pressed respectfully. I thought Emily's hand felt very soft and warm; and I fancied it trembled a little; but that was natural, from her recent alarm; besides I was a stranger; and as to whether it felt soft or hard or warm or soft that was nothing to me, because my heart was engaged. The next day I considered a good deal whether it would be expected of me to call and inquire after the young lady. The distance I thought was sufficient excuse for staying away; besides, there was no particular reason why I should call; they were strangers to me, and the meeting was quite accidental; moreover, my calling on them in such a hurry
might look as if I was seeking for more thanks, and making a fresh draught on their gratitude; so I concluded that, for that day at least, I would take my ride in another direction; however, as the day was fine, and as my staying away might be thought a want of proper respect, and a mark of ill-breeding, I thought I might as well ride that way as any other; so I went.
Now, I declare, that in paying this visit, and many others that followed, I had no other thought than of being polite and attentive; but when I was there, somehow I felt at a loss for something to talk about; and when a young man is in the habit of seeing one of the opposite sex of his own age, although in the present case the young lady was not of my own age, for I was more than twenty, and she was not seventeen ; I say that in such cases it is difficult to avoid paying compliments; and sometimes, perhaps, more is said than is intended. I am sure I meant nothing. But somehow, I don't know how it was-it was by insensible degrees-I became very--what shall I say-?-in short a good deal of intimacy sprang up-unavoidably, indeed-for we were only there in company except on rare occasions--between me and Mrs. Navis's daughter. I forgot to say, that their name was Navis; her son's name, as she often told me, was Frederick.
A good deal of intimacy, as I say, sprung up between me and Emily; there was no love in it, but a friendly familiarity and confidence. She certainly was a most lovely girl; and, excepting Lavinia, I had never met with one so calculated to absorb my affections. But, as I say, there was no love in the case at all, neither with her nor with me. I believe she liked me very well as an acquaintance of her mamma's, and it was natural that she should entertain a strong feeling of gratitude towards me for the service I had done her which of course I never mentioned, although she often did as a reason for her good wishes towards me and the confidence and familiarity with which she was pleased to honour me. For my part, I don't mean to say that I was altogether insensible to the attractions of a very lovely girl; I felt a high esteem for her character young as she was; and certainly I always felt happy in her society; but her mamma seldom left us alone.
It was an odd complicated feeling that I had, and I candidly confess it; when I was present I was almost in love with her; but when I was absent I felt that I was in love with Lavinia.
While I was thus employed alternately in my college studies and in making visits to Mrs. Navis, for whom I conceived a great esteem, I received several letters from my mother, in all of which Lavinia was more or less alluded to. This cherished my passion; and the expression in one of her letters in particular made a lively impression on me, for it seemed that she had met Lavinia in one of her drives, and that Lavinia had made particular inquiries after my health, &c., desiring also to know when I should return home, &c., &c.
This letter and these inquiries agitated me very much. I meditated on them continually. From some feeling of embarrassment I refrained for some days from visiting Mrs. Navis. I was certainly violently in love. I did not know what to do or what to think; my predominant idea was to see Lavinia. Soon that idea became so powerful that I could not resist it. I determined to return home on some pretence, and, at all risks, to have a decisive explanation with her. While I was absorbed and agitated with this irresistible impulse I received a letter which
though from a humble quarter and expressed in homely language, contained news of such deep and distracting import that it roused my jealousy to a maddening degree and added a fresh and decisive stimulus to my determination.
THIS alarming letter was in the following terms :
"Honerd sir, Acordin to your wishus Muster Leander I rite to tel you al the noos about yur favrits and in partiklar Miss Jinny she got over her couchment very wel and my wife paid her the greatest of atenshun as if it was her own sulf wun brown black nose ears tidyish wun brown and white long ears white spot on his nose not much of a tail wun same very curly looks suspishus others rather mongrel looking but Miss Jinny takes to em kindly and licks em all over very tender and my wife says it does her hart good to see it and makes her think of you Muster Leander when you was a babby I mean to bite off all their tails myself tho my wife is agin it and says it is agin natur so you may depend on everything bein dun as if you did it yursulf tim the ratkitcher as is jist cum in sais theres niver a tarrier as he knowed as is ekal to Miss Jinny for buty for why becoz she's so ugly and sich a little rough un as is proper to the breed and that theres not another in the hole county round fit to hold a paunch to her and he promises to worm the yunguns careful for they are alays onsteady and are ful of all sorts of wims and vagaries and their tungs are niver right partiklar the female uns till they are wormed reglar which is my opinion tim is right for Ive alays seed Master Leander as those pups as isnt edikated proper are niver worth nothing and reason why becoz its al owin to training in horses and dogs and what not and if so be as you dont get the worm out of em when they are yung when they are old and grow up to be dogs they alays turn to mis-chif and some of em are puppies all their life a scampring here and a scampring there arter evrything they see and consikence is they niver cum to no good please to say if I am to give a pup to the yong lady at the lodge who is going to be put in harness with a genalman from the city of lunnon I seed him promis-cus red fore-lock wall-eyed uncommon round in the barrel and very ontidy about the heels dont think much about his breed so as I thout youd like to hear about the young bitch and her pups I rite these limes acordin master and missus out of sorts and the old cuch horse is but poorly from yur afeckshunate humbel servant ruspectfully thomas whippy."
Notwithstanding the enthusiasm with which I should have been inspired for "Miss Jenny's pups" on any other occasion, the only part of the communication of my ancient friend and stable preceptor the coachman that struck me at the moment was the astounding news of the "putting in harness" as my friend professionally expressed it, of the young lady at the Lodge with the "genalman from Lunnun with the red firelock" &c., and whom I at once recognised as my enemy Peter; although, as it seemed to me, the she-dragon must have made quick work of it; and, I thought, too, that Lavinia was rather precipitate in acquiescing in such a matrimonial arrangement without deigning to inquire how far such a consummation might be disagreeable to myself. On the other hand I considered, that, from the circumstance of my having quitted the county without making any attempt, as she might have supposed, to see her, was likely to have piqued her pride, and to
have made her think that I had treated her with indifference, and indeed with a want of common courtesy.
Then I got into my head that she had been constrained into a consent to this wretched union as I chose to consider it; and that she was pining in despair at my neglect of her and anxiously waiting for some communication; and all this time it never occurred to me that not only had there been no explanation on either side, but that there had not been even a declaration on my part nor the slightest formal assent on her own ; but somehow I had acquired the conviction that there was a mutual understanding between us which although not expressed in words was perfectly intelligible to the parties concerned, and was a tacit engagement. In short I came to the conclusion that as I was honourably committed, it was my duty to effect her rescue from the unworthy Peter in spite of all the dragons in the air or on the earth or under the earth. With this resolve, I determined immediately to repair to the scene of her despair, with certain contingent plans and contrivances in my head in the event of difficulties; and which will develope themselves in due order.
As if to assist me at this anxious moment, I received a letter from my mother, which rather to my surprise, made no mention of the matter which was most interesting to me, and which I attributed to a tender solicitude on her part to spare my feelings; but it communicated to me the distressing information of my father having a touch of the gout which I forthwith insisted was of an alarming character, and which justified, and indeed rendered imperative that I should return home without delay, which I instantly did, showing by my excessive haste and speed how anxious I was to comply with the dictates of filial duty.
My arrival at home was at all times gratifying to my affectionate mother; and my father, whom I had the pleasure to find unusually hearty, was pleased to consider on this occasion that I had done well in coming. There was not a word said about the family at the Lodge; although I endeavoured dexterously, several times, to incline the conversation in that direction. I was burning to hear some news, but as I found a great awkwardness in forcing the subject, particularly as the affair of the "bill" was mixed up with it, I was obliged to devour my impatience and wait for the solution of the question till I could investigate the matter in propriâ personâ. As I had travelled all night I had the whole day before me; and after I had satisfied the various inquiries as to my health and occupations which it was natural to expect under the circumstances, I determined to make the best use of my time; evading therefore, an intimation from my father that I might accompany him in his walk over the corn-fields and pastures, and quietly eluding my mother's affectionate attempts to detain me, I mounted a horse, and presently found myself, after a hard gallop, close to the spot where I had first met Lavinia.
While I was speculating how I should obtain an interview with her, to my great joy I suddenly beheld her emerge from behind the celebrated mound of green turf, and with a melancholy air seat herself before it, gazing with her cheek on her hand on the bright waters of the stream which flowed swiftly and silently before her. For once, thought I, the gods are propitious! In a moment I dismounted from my horse, threw his rein over the bough of a tree, and clearing the hedge at a bound, I stood before her.
"THE maiden was in raptures at sight of the garland, and said that she knew she should be inspired while its shadow fell upon her brow. She then seated me in the arm-chair by the fire and unrolling her long tresses she came and knelt low at my feet, declaring playfully that she who could imagine such beauty-such poetry, must be the only one capable of playing it to perfection; and then, in spite of all my resistance, for I knew no more of hair-dressing than the veriest scullion, insisted upon my playing it for the performance. I could not refuse, for she said that it would bring her good fortune, and accordingly I set about the task, exerting myself to the utmost I was able, and I may say, without vanity, that I succeeded to a miracle; but then, Paquerette's hair was so very beautiful, and I was so anxious to set her off to the best advantage. "It was while I plaited and smoothed the rich tresses which, as she knelt swept the very ground, that the old confidence which she used once to have in me returned. She told me that the dark close wrought web of her destiny was about to be unravelled; that poor old C., the professor who loved her like a father, had mentioned her name to an illustrious princess, his pupil; that her highness had been so interested in her sad story, that she had wept outright at the bare recital, even though told with all sorts of blunders through the medium of C.'s Germanised French, that she had taken such an interest in her fate, that she intended to come incognito to the theatre to witness her début. She said too, that dear old C. had given way to a wild and foolish hope that the interest he had thus excited might lead to some yet greater, and that he might live to salute her Lady of Fontenay.
"And why not, Paquerette?' said I, in answer to the cold, wan smile with which she spoke the words. Others, who have less right than thou, dearest, have been restored to their possessions, even the emigrants have for the most part returned to claim their own. Why then should it be impossible thou shouldst have less success than they?'
"Because,' replied she, quickly, when the sap is withered the tree will die and can no more be transplanted. What is life, and why should I wish to live, a thing of chance and change, the toy-the plaything of the lover.' She suffered her clasped hands to fall low before her, and added mournfully, How have I prayed that this bitter cup which I must quaff tonight might pass untasted from my lips! How have I put off this day, in hope-but it was not to be, and I, the daughter of a long line of nobles, am forced by fate to become an actress-an outcast for the short space which now remains ere I become as nought.'
"She held up one thin pale hand before me as she uttered these words Sept.-VOL. LXXXIV. NO. CCCXXXIII.