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wild will were put to flight. Here was a mere child led away by the dazzle of a new toy to the brink of a precipice. She evidently knew no more of love and marriage than a baby. For a little time longer, the wicked — lover I cannot call him--suitor urged his suit, playing with her simplicity in a manner that he must have inwardly laughed at all the time. He lured her to matrimony by puerile pet names, such as My angel’—by idle rhapsodies, and pictures of fine houses and clothes. 'I don't mind these things at all,' said poor Zillah innocently ; only you say that when I am married I shall have nothing to do, and you
will never scold me, and I shall have Miss Pryor always with me. Promise!' Here was a pause, until the child's simple voice was heard again : 'I don't like that, cousin. I won't kiss you. Miss Pryor once said we ought never to kiss anybody unless we love them very much.' • And don't
you love me, my adorable creature?' '1—I'm not quite sure: sometimes I love you, and sometimes not; but I suppose I shall always when we are married.'
• That must be very soon,' said the lieutenant, and I thought I heard him trying to suppress a yawn. "Let us settle it at once, my dear, for it is late. If you will not come to-night, let me have the happiness, the entire felicity, of fetching you to-morrow.'
'No, no,' Zillah answered; “Miss Pryor will want me to help her to pack. We leave this day-week : let me stay till the night before that; then come for me, and I'll have my best frock on, and we can be married in time to meet them all before the boat sails next day.'
In any other circumstances I should have smiled at this child's idea of marriage: but now the crisis was far too real and awful; and the more her ignorance lightened her own error, the more it increased the crime of that bad man who was about to ruin her peace for ever. A little he tried to reverse her plan and make the marriage earlier; but Zillah was too steady. In the obstinacy of her character—in the little influence which, lover as he was, he seemed to have over her— I read her safeguard, past and present. It would just allow me time to save her in the only way she could be saved. I listened till I heard her say good-by to her cousin, creep back into the dark room through the open window, and fasten it securely as before. Then I stole away to the parlour, and, supported by the strong excitement of the moment, wrote my letter to Mr Sutherland. There would be in the six days just time for the arrival of an answer, or himself. I left everything to him, merely stating the facts, knowing he would do right. At midnight I went to bed. Zillah was fast asleep. As I lay awake, hour after hour, I thanked Heaven that the poor child
, deluded as she had been, knew nothing of what love was in its reality. She was at least spared that sorrow.
During all the week I contrived to keep Zillah as near me as was possible consistent with the necessity of not awaking her suspicions. This was the more practicable, as she seemed to cling to me with an unwonted and even painful tenderness. The other girls grumbled sadly at our departure ; but luckily all had been definitively arranged by their father, who had even, strange to say, given me money for the journey. He had likewise gracefully apologised for being obliged to let us travel alone, as he had himself some business - engagements, while his son had lately rejoined his regiment. I really think the deceiving and deceived father fully credited the latter fact. Certainly they were a pretty pair! I made all my plans secure, and screwed up my courage as well as I could; but I own on the evening previous to our journey—the evening which, from several attesting proofs, I knew was still fixed for the elopement—I began to feel a good deal alarmed. Of Mr Sutherland was no tidings. At twilight I saw plainly that the sole hope must lie in my own presence of mind, my influence over Zillah, and my appeal to her sense of honour and affection. I sent the children early to bed, saying I had letters to write, and prepared myself for whatever was to happen. Now many may think me foolish, and at times I thought myself so likewise, for not going at once to Zillah and telling her all I had discovered; but I knew her character better than that. The idea of being betrayed, waylaid, controlled, would drive her fierce Eastern nature into the very commission of the madness she contemplated. In everything I must trust to the impulse of the moment, and to the result of her suddenly discovering her own position and the villainous plans laid against her.
Never in my life do I remember a more anxious hour than that I spent sitting in the dark by the parlour-window, whence, myself unseen, I could see all that passed without the house; for it was a lovely night: the moon high up over the Lough and making visible the Antrim hills. I think in all moments of great peril one grows quiet: so did I. At eleven there was a sound of wheels on the beach, and the shadow of a man passed the window. I looked out. It was the most unromantic and commonplace elopement with an heiress: he was merely going to take her away on an
There was no one with him but the carman, who was left whistling contentedly on the shore. The moment had come; with the energy of desperation, I put off the shawl in which I had wrapped myself in case I had to follow the child; for follow her I had determined to do were it necessary.
Quietly, and with as ordinary a manner as I could assume, I walked into Zillah's room. She was just stepping from the window. She had on her best frock and shawl, poor innocent! with her favourite white bonnet, that I had lately trimmed for her, carefully tied up in a kerchief, I touched her shoulder. Zillah, where are you going ?' She started and screamed. • Tell me: I must know,' I repeated, holding her fast by the arm, while Augustus rather roughly pulled her by the other.
Cousin, you hurt me !' she cried, and instinctively drew back. Then for the first time the lieutenant saw me.
I have often noticed that cunning and deceitful people--small villains, not great ones are always cowards. Mr Augustus drew back as if he had been shot. I took no notice of him, but still appealed to Zillah.
Tell me, my child, the plain truth, as you always do : where were you going?'
She stammered out: ‘I was going to—to Belfast—to be married.'
At this frank confession the bridegroom interposed. He perhaps was the braver for reflecting that he had only women to deal with. He leaped in at the chamber-window, and angrily asked me by what right I interfered. 'I will tell you,' said I, 'if you have enough gentlemanly feeling to leave
my apartment, and will speak with me in the open air.' He retreated, I bolted the window, and still keeping a firm hold on the trembling girl, met him outside the front-door. It certainly was the oddest place for such a scene; but I did not wish to let him inside the house.
Now, Miss Pryor,' said he imperatively, but still politely—a Le Poer could not be otherwise—' will you be so kind as to let go that young lady, who has put herself under my protection, and intends honouring me with her hand ?'
• Is that true, Zillah? Do you love this man, and voluntarily intend to marry him ?' · Yes, if
you will let me, Miss Pryor. He told me you would be so pleased. He promises always to be kind to me, and never let me work. Please don't be angry with me, dear Miss Pryor: 0 do let me marry my cousin !'
* Listen to me a few minutes, Zillah,' said I, and you shall choose.' And then I told her, in as few words as I could, what her position was how that it had been concealed from her that she was an heiress, and how, by marrying her, her cousin Augustus would be master over all her wealth. So unworldly was she, that I think the girl herself hardly understood me; but the lieutenant was furious.
'It is all a lie-an infamous cheat!' he cried. “Don't believe it, Zillah. Don't be frightened, little fool! I promised to marry you, and, by Heaven! marry you I will!'
· Lieutenant Le Poer,' said I very quietly,' that may not be quite so easy as you think. However, I do not prevent you, as indeed I have no right; I only ask my dear child Zillah here to grant me one favour, as for the sake of my love for her – (Here Zillah sobbed)—I doubt not she will: that she should do as every other young woman of common-sense and delicacy would do, and wait until to-morrow, to ask the consent of one who will then probably be here, he is not already arrived-her guardian, Mr Andrew Sutherland.'
Lieutenant Augustus burst out with an oath, probably mild in the messroom, but very shocking here to two women's ears. Zillah crept farther from him and nearer to me.
I'll not be cheated so !' stormed he. *Come, child, you'll trust your cousin? you'll come away to-night?'—and he tried to lift her on the car, which had approached — the Irish driver evidently much enjoying the
'No, cousin; not to-night,' said the girl resisting. 'I'd rather wait and have Miss Pryor with me, and proper bridesmaids, and all that—that is, if I marry you at all, which I won't unless Miss Pryor thinks you will be kind to me.
So good-by till to-morrow, cousin. He was so enraged by this time that he tried forcibly to drag her on the car.
But I wound my arms round
my dear child's waist, and shrieked for help. 'Faith, sir,' said the sturdy Irishman, interfering half in amusement, half in indignation, 'ye'd betther lave the women alone. I'd rayther not meddle with an abduction.'
So Zillah was set free from the lieutenant's grasp, for, as I said before, a scoundrel is often a great coward. I drew the trembling and terrified girl into the house-he following with a storm of oaths and threatenings.
At last I forcibly shut the door upon him, and bolted him out. Whether this indignity was too much for the valorous soldier, or whether he felt sure that all chance was over, I know not; but when I looked out ten minutes after, the coast was clear. I took my erring, wronged, yet still more wronged than erring, child into my bosom, and thanked Heaven that she was saved. The next morning Mr Sutherland arrived.
After this night's events I have little to say, or else had rather say but little of what passed during the remainder of that summer. We all travelled to England together, going round by Yorkshire to leave Mr Le Poer's daughters at their own home. This was Mr Sutherland's plan, in order that the two girls should be kept in ignorance of the whole affair, and especially of their father's ill - deeds. What they suspected I know not: they were merely told that it was the desire of Zillah’s guardian to take her and her governess home with him. So we parted at Halifax, and I never saw any of the family again. I had no scruples about thus quitting them, as I found out from Mr Sutherland that I had been engaged solely as governess to his ward, and that he had himself paid my salary in advance, the whole of which, in some way or other, had been intercepted by Mr Le Poer. The money of course was gone; but he had written to me with each remittance, and thus I had lost his letters. That was hard ! I also found out, with great joy and comfort, that my Zillah was truly Zillah Le Poer--her father's legitimate heiress. All I had been led to believe was a cruel and wicked lie. The whole history of her father and mother was one of those family tragedies, only too frequent, which, the actors in them being dead, are best forgotten. I shall not revive the tale.
In late autumn Mr Sutherland sailed for India. Before he quitted England, he made me sole guardian in his stead over Zillah Le Poer, assigning for her a handsome maintenance. He said he hoped we should all live happily together-she, my mother, and I-until he came back. He spent a short time with us all at his country-seatma time which, looking back upon, seems in its eight days like eight separate years.
I ought to speak of Zillah, the unmoved centre of so many convolving fates. She remained still and silent as ever—dull
, grieved, humiliated. I told her gradually and gently the whole truth, and explained from how much she had been saved. She seemed grateful and penitent: her heart had never been touched by love; she was yet a mere child. The only evidence of womanly shame she gave was in keeping entirely out of her guardian's way: nor did he take much notice of her except in reproaching himself to me with being neglectful of his charge; but he had so thoroughly trusted in the girl's uncle as being her best protector. The only remark he ever made on Zillah’s personal self was that she had beautiful eyes, adding, with a half-sigh, that he liked dark Oriental eyes.' One day his mother told me something which explained this. She said he had been engaged to a young lady in India, who on the eve of their marriage had died. He had never cared much for women's society since, and his mother thought would probably never marry. After his departure she told me the whole story. My heart bled over every pang that he had suffered: he was so good and noble a man. And when I knew about his indifference to all women, I felt the more gratefully what trust he shewed in me by making me Zillah's guardian in his absence, and wishing me to write to him regularly of her welfare. The last words he said were to ask me to go and see his mother often; and then he bade God bless me, and called me ‘his dear friend.' He was very kind always !
We had a quiet winter, for my health was not good—I being often delicate in winter-time. My mother and Zillah took care of me, and I was very grateful for their love. I got well at last, as the spring-time began, and went on in my old ways.
There are sometimes long pauses in one's life-deep rests or sleeps of years—in which month after month, and season after season, float on each the same; during which the soul lies either quiet or torpid, as may be. Thus, without any trouble, joy, or change, we lived for several years—my mother, Zillah Le Poer, and I. One morning I found with a curious surprise, but without any of the horror which most women are supposed to feel at that fact, that I was thirty years old! We discovered by the same reckoning that Zillah was just nineteen. I remember she put her laughing face beside mine in the glass. There was a great difference truly. I do not mean the difference in her from me, for I never compared that, but in her from her former self. She had grown up into a woman, and, as that glass told her, and my own eyes told me, a very striking woman too. I was little of a judge in beauty myself; still, I knew well that everybody we met thought her handsome. Likewise, she had grown up beautiful in mind as well as in body. I was very proud of my dear child. I well remember this day, when she was nineteen and I thirty. I remember it, I say, because our kind friend in India had remembered it likewise, and sent us each a magnificent shawl; far too magnificent it was for a little body like me, but it became Zillah splendidly. She tucked me under her arm as if I had been a little girl, and walked me up and down the room; for she was of a cheerful, gay temper nowjust the one to make an old heart young again, to flash upon a worn spirit with the brightness of its own long-past morning. I recollect thinking this at the time-I wish I had thought so oftener! But it matters little: I only chronicle this day, as being the first when Zillah unconsciously put herself on a level with me, becoming thenceforward my equal—no longer & mere pet and a child.
About this time—I may as well just state the fact to comfort other maidens of thirty years' standing I received an offer of marriage, the first I ever had. He who asked me was a gentleman of my own age, an old acquaintance, though never a very intimate friend. I examined myself well, with great humility and regret, for he was an excellent man; but I found I could not marry him. It was very strange that he should ask me, I thought. My mother, proud and pleased-first, because I had had the honour of a proposal; secondly, that it was refused, and she kept her child still—would have it that the circumstance was not strange at all. She said many women were handsomer and more attractive at thirty than they had ever been in their lives. My poor, fond, deluded and deluding mother, in whose sight even I was fair! That night I was foolish enough to look long into the glass, at my quiet little face, and my pale, gray-blue eyesnot dark, like Zillah's — foolish enough to count narrowly the white