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they say, a grocer's eldest born! to say nothing, 0 nothing! of that horrid captain, smelling of tar and tobacco !' And all the proud blood of all the Irbys mounted into both the ladies' faces as they shuddered, chiming in: 'Impossible! the race of Irby has never yet been defiled by plebeian admixture.' They forgot how defiled and disgraced it was by patrician vices !
It was comforting and satisfactory to Agnes, ere she quitted Maud Chapel for an indefinite period, to leave one in her place who proved a welcome addition to the domestic circle.
a half - sister of Mr Walsingham’s, nearly a score of years his junior. Miss Walsingham had presided over an establishment for the education of young ladies, but she had now finished the prosperous labours of her life, and retired on a comfortable independence. Her former pupils were all singularly attached to her, while Miss Walsingham continued to cherish a motherly interest in their after-welfare; for there was a strong dash of romance in the prim spinster's composition, which not all her orthodox phrases and strictly conventional breeding could altogether conceal. She was the confidant of many delicate affairs in which the young misses, her former pupils, became engaged touching their settlement in life when the choice of a husband came to be decided. It was to their schoolmistress they always flew for advice and sympathy if anything went contrary ;' for there was much in her sympathy congenial to young hearts, while her advice was always sound and judicious, without being a bit like advice. Papas and mammas all respected Miss Walsingham, courted her society, and wondered by what magical means she had acquired such perfect but gently-administered control over those committed to her care—such lasting influence after they had entered on the great sea of life, with its billows tossing and surging around them. Perhaps the key to the secret was, that Miss Walsingham never ceased to remember she had once been young herself. She could weep with those who wept, and rejoice with those who rejoiced; for over her early history a cloud of mystery hung, though many suspected that the long calm of her matured years followed in the wake of passionate emotions of no common kind, ending in sorrow and death.
Now, although the good lady intended to make Maud Chapel Farm her headquarters, much to the satisfaction of her brother and his wife, yet she had no intention of confining herself all the year round to one locality. She anticipated clearing off many long-promised visits to married pupils, who were all anxious to have her beneath their roof, to exhibit husbands, children, houses, and garniture to the dear gouvernante whose Quaker-cap, sombre robe, and grave exterior had never repulsed them in their thoughtless days of charming girlhood. It had been a source of much vexation to Miss Walsingham not having Agnes to educate and bring up. Her brother's refusal to part with his grandchild had wounded and vexed her at the time, and she told Mr Walsingham in plain terms, that “neither he nor sister Betsy knew how to manage a girl like Agnes.' The bereaved couple, however, could not bear to lose sight of their beloved charge. She was the only sunshine of their home, and they confessed and extenuatingly pleaded their weakness to the exemplary Deborah. They considered, indeed, that Agnes did
high credit to their system of tuition and bringing-up' generally; but Deborah Walsingham declared that she would have made the delicate, sensitive girl a far different person in all respects, more fitted to endure the shocks of life and combat with its trials, had she been fostered and trained at Walsingham House. Nevertheless, she was very fond of Agnes, and greatly interested in her. Perhaps there was a certain unquiet drooping of the eye, a sad expression seated there, and a wan cheek, flushing oftentimes suddenly, as if from painful remembrances, which touched the spinster's tender heart.
'Sure am I that Agnes Dormer has known suffering; and what Greek poet is that who saysor something to the effect—" What has he known who has not loved ?" and suffering and loving are synonymous,' mused Miss Walsingham.
This suspicion alone was enough to open wide every avenue of her sympathies; and so unaffected and entire they were, that Agnes could not reject them utterly; nay, there was a consolation in permitting one so experienced and astute as Miss Walsingham to read the secrets of her heart, though she flattered herself but in part. But Agnes was mistaken here: the secrets of her heart and history were laid bare to Miss Walsingham's keen penetration-not in part, as she vainly imagined, but the whole tale of lost love' was unravelled. Agnes did not guess half the tender pity she excited in her bosom; she only felt the effects in her assiduity and affectionate attention.
But at length the time arrived when Agnes was compelled to tear herself away from the peaceful home of her childhood, and she struggled to conceal her emotion from them all. Lady Irby and Helen too-she felt as if parting with them for ever. What were they to her now? Their path in life was separate, as if in separate planets, and it was futile to wish they could hear tidings of each other's destinies again. So at least thought Agnes. Where could she find another friend like Helen Irby—so pure-minded, elegant, and refined ?
"Never can another be to me what she has been: I must stand alone henceforth !' sighed Agnes. Yet she was about returning to her father's house—to her lover's arms. “ Yet not alone,' she added presently;' wicked and rebellious that I am to say so; for as the stars of heaven are countless, so are His blessings, and His presence always.' Never had the seaport town of F- appeared so dingy, close, and crowded, as on the bright summer-day when Agnes entered it the second time: it afforded indeed & strong contrast to St Edwins' pastoral valley. Here were maritime discordances of all varieties, and rocking masts, and inodorous scents, instead of softly-chiming bells, umbrageous foliage, and spicy gales, wafted from violet meadows and honeysuckle bowers. It was a rude and startling change; and the rough but affectionate greeting she received sounded harshly in her ears after the gentle voices of the kindred and friends whom she had left behind. But Agnes had no time for consideration or repining, for Captain Dormer lost no temporising days or weeks ere he assailed his daughter on the point he had so much at heart. He attacked her immediately; asked bluntly if she had made up her mind to marry her Cousin Wilfred; and if she had (and she had better, he added, with a very strong imprecation), when it was to be ?
Give me but time, father,' pleaded Agnes, pale, distressed, and weeping - give me but time, Cousin Wilfred—it is all I ask,' as the thoughtless young sailor vehemently seconded the captain's wishes.
'Time-time!' exclaimed Captain Dormer angrily; 'why time is on the wing, and you have shilly-shallied long enough, girl. Wilfred is going off to sea again directly to take command of the Fair Nancy, bound for the Gold Coast. And when he brings her back safe from that cruise laden with the precious ore, he'll never need to leave thee again, Aggy: you and he may build a palace of gold for yourselves in this nice town, if your minds incline that way.'
Agnes smiled wanly at her father's ideas of retirement and enjoyment; but existence was rendered most uncomfortable by alternate persecution from her father and pleading attentions from her cousin. Yet how she clung to delay! Might not Helen tell him of her situation? Helen surely had guessed it in part, and a word, half a word to her lover would be sufficient to bring him still to her rescue. Yet had she not rejected him, and how dared she hope he would return? Was it likely that Reginald, so delicate and high-souled, would seek her now simply because she was rich ? No-no; he was enthralled by Lady Isabel, the nobly-born and beautifuland wherefore should I delay?' sighed Agnes ; 'wherefore prove disobedient and ungrateful to a kind father for the sake of a dream-a dream from which I have awakened with a heart cold and seared ?' Yet how she clung to delay! "Time—time, father !' she whispered ; 'time-time, Cousin Wilfred !' and in this energetic battle her days sped on until the climax arrived when procrastination could avail her no longer. Wilfred was appointed to sail on a certain day in obedience to orders ; the captain's passion for amassing wealth increased with his years, though he persisted in declaring that it was not for this purpose he sent his nephew on so perilous an expedition, but because it was a shame for so gallant a young officer to become a landlubber and a milksop! The day of departure was near, and Captain Dormer insisted that Agnes should give her hand to Wilfred ere he took his path across the waste of waters : it was a sad prospect for the young bridegroom and the weeping bride-marriage, and immediate separation !
With a forced and desperate calmness, and an apathetic stoicism, Agnes stood before the altar with her cousin: there was no bridal array, no bridal festivities por preparations, but she heard the solemn words which bound her to him untildeath did them part.' These words she distinctly, strangely heard; they appeared to reverberate through the dim old church, so empty and desolate— death and parting ;' and Agnes awoke to the reality that she was a wife, murmuring with a shudder as she received her father's congratulation : Until death parts us.' Poor Wilfred ! he had short experience of wedded bliss, and it was a bitter parting for him ; while Agnes gazed on his honest, loving face with indefinable sensations, as if she was essaying to engrave the lineaments on her mind. A cold shiver ran through her frame as her husband released her from his last embrace : May God preserve and shield him !' she ejaculated; ‘his image will haunt me evermore.' They sailed away on a glorious, sunshiny day, the blue waves glittering, and the gallant bark dancing over them to the sounds of rejoicing music.
There was a lonely green spot on the heights without the town, from whence Agnes had been wont to watch the sun sinking into ocean's bosom; and she sought it now in solitary sorrow, not only to gaze on the departing luminary, but to keep in view as long as possible that lessening speck which contained her husband. She was seated on the turf, her head resting on her hand, and with eyes intently fixed on the distant vessel
, on which a golden ray of sunshine rested momentarily, .flashing on the white sails, and causing Agnes to shade those tearful eyes, thinking meanwhile how like the white sails were to wings, and the skimming bark itself to a paradise-bird about to sink to rest with the refulgent orb, whose warmth and light it disported in : thus she was lost in a fanciful reverie
, and the words broke from her involuntarily: that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away and be at rest,' when a footstep close by her side made Agnes start and turn hastily round.
And where would you fly to, Agnes—where would you rest—here?' exclaimed Reginald Irby, opening his arms.
Speechless and dismayed, Agnes rose and stood gazing on the sudden apparition, as if the real human being were indeed a spiritual visitant. "Avaunt !' she at length faintly articulated—'avaunt ! how came you here—wherefore at this hour ? Approach me not !' she cried more wildly, waving her hands in terror, and edging towards the side of the cliff as Reginald made a step nearer, and strove to clasp her in his embrace.
· Agnes — Agnes !' he said soothingly, and in a voice of ineffable tenderness, do you fear me — do you not know me; that it is indeed 1, your Reginald ? I have just landed here from Lord —'s yacht, and by mere chance strayed hither. Chance, say I? O no! led by Providence rather let me say. But Agnes — Agnes! wherefore look you thus ? Are
you with your father here, and where are the good Walsinghams?'
But she stood motionless-still and mute as a marble statue-her features as colourless and rigid: with difficulty, and keeping her eyes intently fixed on Reginald, she slowly raised an arm, extending it towards the ocean, and pointing with her hand to where the glittering sails of her husband's ship were already fast vanishing in the gloom and haze of evening.
Agnes !' cried Reginald in an imploring, agitated voice-for her appalling looks even more than her manner surprised and alarmed him— will you not say one word to me? I could no longer rest without seeing you, dearest; and so I eagerly availed myself of this opportunity of accompanying Lord L who is recreating himself with a flying visit to our native isle, after the marriage of my amiable cousin, his daughter Isabel
. Helen has told you of Isabel-has she not, sweet Agnes ?-how dear and true a friend and sister she has been to me during my exile. For oh, Agnes, my life, my love, is it not banishment indeed this separation from thee? But, heavenly powers, take care ! you will fall!'
He gave a bound forward and caught her arm, for she was tottering on the very brink of the dizzy height, and looking wildly over, as if meditating a plunge. She looked up in his face as Reginald clasped her arm with a gaze of most piteous supplication, and her voice was hollow and tremulous as the broken words with difficulty were articulated :
-yonder—on those ocean waves my husband sleeps to-night! Reginald, behold yon lessening speck! my earthly hopes are centred there!'
In one moment had flashed across her brain conviction of Helen's false representations and of Reginald's truth! But what availed such knowledge now? She had but the delirious wish to make him comprehend her position, and to fly his presence.
He drew her back from the verge of the cliff, let fall her arm, and glared upon her until she quailed and trembled beneath the fierce and deadly expression. The Irbys were a proud and passionate race, and the glance of an incensed Irby's eye struck terror into aggressors-so tradition said.
* False—fickle!' he hissed rather than spoke the words from between his set teeth— false—fickle! did you not bid me be true to you?' He waited long for a reply; but her tongue clove to the roof of her mouthdismay and agony choked her utterance. “Agnes, have you dared to treat me thus—to wed another?' Reginald's voice rose in passion : “False, fickle-hearted ! have you indeed cast away such love as mine?' She feebly whispered one word—that word was ' Helen.' ' And what of my sisterwhat of Helen ?' vehemently cried he. · Helen best knows how an Irby loves ! Agnes, you have broken my heart by your falsehood; and men speak not of broken hearts as women do. They speak of blasted fortunestalents wasted-prospects ruined—all this you may have wrought for me! Go to your happy home, Agnes-await your husband's return—and remember the lover of your youth, and what you have made him!'
Bitterly and fiercely the young man poured forth these words, regarding her with an almost scornful look as her beautiful head drooped on her heaving bosom. What a tale Agnes could have unfolded! She was standing on the verge of a precipice—and she was silent! At that moment Captain Dormer's rough voice broke the dreadful silence and dissolved the spell; he was calling on · Aggy'-boisterous and blustering enough. As the rolling mariner appeared on the level patch of greensward, with one last withering glance of agony and upbraiding Reginald Irby vanished down the ascent, and Agnes flew into her father's arms, where fits of convulsive weeping, followed by a fearful interval of insensibility, were attributed by the captain to grief for her husband's departure; and his conscience was sorely disquieted to think that he had been the originator of Wilfred's perilous absence. In his way he redoubled his assiduities and affection towards his unhappy child, entreating her to keep up,' and not to pine;' that · Willy would be sure to come back safe and sound;' time passed in a jiffy ;' and so on. Little did he surmise whence arose- e-the pallor and wasted form of the lovely bride. Yet, strangely-constituted human nature ! in the midst of all this bitterness there was a drop of sweetness worth more than all the treasures this weary world contained. Reginald was true-he loved her! Agnes prayed to die—but, like “ puir Jeanie' in the immortal ballad, “she wasna like to dee.' The day of comfort, however, at last came ; and she bowed her head in religious resignation, turned to her accustomed duties, and smiled on her father.
My siren,' he would say, ' your smiles are not sunny! they mind me of moonlight shining on the snow!'
Vainly did Agnes try to deceive herself into believing that she deplored