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of the most upright men, is to be swayed by the inclinations, lie thought it best to adhere to a promise solemnly given, cost what it might to himself
. Clara should never know the sacrifice he had made, nor should she ever feel that she was not loved. This resolution once taken, with the decision of character and promptness of action conspicuous in everything he did, he determined to leave Sandilands Hall the next day. In his case he felt that true courage lay in flight. No longer exposed daily and hourly to the dangerous influence of Harriette's fascinating presence, this fever of the heart would subside. He had forgotten her once before: he might—he might perhaps forget her again!
The following morning he made an excuse to the Hartleys and Clara for quitting Sandilands Hall the same afternoon. Of the latter he took a kind farewell. His adieus to the Hartleys and Mrs Bertram were also of the most cordial and friendly description. And now he must shake hands with Harriette ; hers was extended with composure, yet kindness. Her face, shaded by the long beautiful ringlets,' as Clara called them, though calm, was not indifferent, and was tinged by a slight ingenuous blush. She wished that they might part as friends, and she felt that from her heart she wished him happiness with Clara. He gave one glance at her eloquent face—the last—for he was never to see her again. Then hardly touching her offered hand, he turned quickly to repeat his farewell to Clara. Harriette believed she was utterly unheeded - quite forgotten. She deserved it; but when her heart had been so full of kindness, it was very bitter. Again, as on the previous night, she felt her eyes filling. She turned her head to conceal her emotion. As she did so, she caught Clara's eye fixed upon her. Clavering was now gone; and Clara, rushing up to Harriette, threw her arms round her neck, and burst into tears. "What is the matter?' cried the latter in alarm.
Oh, nothing--nothing at all. I felt inclined to cry somehow; something came into my head; but you need not ask, for I am not going to tell one of you. And, by the by, I must practise that duet I promised to play with Charles Crawford to-morrow morning.'
' He must wind those worsteds for me first,' said Susan; "and there is also a recipe which he promised to copy for me, that must not be forgotten. And, Clara, you and he must not ramble about upon the downs as you do; it looks ill, though Charles Crawford is a very gentlemanly young man; and as he pays attention to everybody, it does not so much signify; still, engaged young ladies cannot be too circumspect. Be advised, Clara, by a person who has had more experience than yourself, and who has only your good at heart.'
Susan delivered this speech with an air of extreme sagacity, while an expression of good-natured self-satisfaction beamed from her face. Clara returned no answer, but skipped away to feed the peacock.
After the departure of Arthur Clavering things fell into the old routine at Sandilands Hall. Clara was as incorrigible as ever in her flirtations with Charles Crawford. One day, after the lapse of about a fortnight, she
announced that she had received an invitation to spend two or three weeks with some cousins who resided at Portsmouth, one of whom was the widow of an officer in the navy. Portsmouth! Susan demurred, for visions of pic-nics, and balls, and Clara flirting furiously with dozens of officers, led her to doubt the propriety of the step. But Clara was determined to go, and finally carried her point.
It was a fine morning on which she was to set out. Mr Hartley was to accompany her in the carriage to the nearest railway station. She had been unusually excitable and fidgety all the morning, having talked and laughed incessantly, and never having sat still for a single minute. After she had bid them all good-by in the drawing-room, she requested Harriette to accompany her into the hall. When there, she threw her arms round her neck and kissed her, half-crying, half-laughing as she did so. Then disengaging herself, she ran down the steps into the porch; but ere Harriette could return to the drawing-room, flew back again to embrace her once more, crying: 'Good-by, my dearest, sweetest Harriette: I hope you will be happy.'
‘Happy! my dear girl,' cried Harriette smiling; one would suppose that I was unhappy.'
No, not exactly unhappy. But are you quite, quite happy?'
* All wise people, you know, Clara, tell us that there is no such thing as perfect felicity in this world, and I have no right to expect that mine should be an exception to the common lot; but if mamma were only well again I should be happy- enough.' To this speech Clara only replied by a look, half-doubtful, half-perplexed, and another and another kiss.
'You wont quite forget me, Harriette? Though I am such a wild, foolish, silly thing, you will love me a little bit in spite of it all ?'
Dear, kind Clara ! I love you very dearly.' Here Mr Hartley, who had been standing at the door all this time, called out in an impatient tone that he would wait no longer, and Clara ran off, laughing and exclaiming: 'We can drive all the quicker. Oh, I do so like to drive quick!'
We shall meet again in a fortnight,' cried Harriette, with a cheerful nod. Clara only replied by a laugh-an odd-sounding laugh it seemed to Harriette; but the impression was only momentary, and passed entirely away from her thoughts.
The day after Clara's departure Mrs Bertram became much worse than she had ever been since she left home. She was now again confined to bed. Susan and Harriette were both much distressed; but the former had her husband, and her children, and her house, and her comforts, and was, besides, of a less anxious disposition. Poor Harriette felt that in losing her mother she should lose her all; but for the sake of that beloved one she bore up bravely. In everything Harriette felt or did there was an ardour, an enthusiasm, the natural effect of a warm heart united with a susceptible imagination and great strength of character. Thus she would not allow herself to despond for her own future, while her whole time and cares were for the present devoted to the invalid, for whose sake all her labours were labours of love. Still there were moments when an inexpressible sadness would suddenly steal over her spirits, and a settled gloom, without a glimmer on the horizon, would seem to darken over the perspective of her life. This generally happened when she was weary or unemployed, and at such times she wisely shunned solitude, as a fit of musing was generally succeeded by a fit of weeping. One afternoon, a day or two before Clara's expected return, Mrs Bertram having fallen asleep, Harriette took the opportunity to go into the garden to gather a bouquet, and snatch a breath of the fresh air. Neither Susan nor Mr Hartley was at home, having taken advantage of the fine day to pay a round of visits.
The flower-garden at Sandilands Hall was a very pretty one. It branched off from the lawn, from which it was only separated by a low wire-fence covered with fuchsias and China roses, and was sheltered on the north by a row of lime-trees, through which walks led into a wood behind. A pretty conservatory stood on a sort of terrace, while beds of beautiful flowers were separated by walks bordered by hollyhocks and dahlias, which formed miniature avenues in every direction. The trees were in their autumn glory. There was no scarlet mountain ash, no purple heather, no long fern, as at Harriette's home; but elm and ash, and chestnut and oak, such as Scotland never saw, stretched away before her in rich and variegated luxuriance, while the sun setting red in the west threw an additional splendour over their melancholy pomp. Away, far along the horizon stretched the sea, bright, and calm, and cold, and blue. There was a clearness and a brightness about everything which seemed almost spiritual, but was the reverse of joyous. Harriette sat down on a garden seat, and fell into a reverie. The strange sadness which like a spell mingled with the sunshine, and brooded over the beauty, reminded her of the sadness which had come over her fading youth and once gay spirits. The temptation to muse over the past was too strong to be resisted ; and Harriette recalled image after image, and feeling after feeling, till it all rose before her a perfect picture; and then, as she remembered that the vision she had conjured up was but a vision after all, she felt the tears rush to her eyes. Reproaching herself for her weakness and folly, she started up quickly for the purpose of returning to the house. She had not proceeded many steps when she heard some one pronounce her name, and turning round, was surprised and confused to perceive that it was Arthur Clavering. She stammered, and said something about not having expected him.
'I hope I have not intruded. The servant told me that your sister and Mr Hartley were not at home, but that I should find you in the garden.'
He had come voluntarily to seek her then. More surprised than ever, but in a degree recovering her self-possession, she replied: 'Oh no; not at all. I am going to gather a bouquet.'
“May I help you ?'
• Thank you.' Harriette knew not what to make of all this, and she feared to speak lest she should betray her surprise and agitation. What could possibly be the meaning of the change which had come over Arthur Clavering—and why was he here?
After having given her several flowers of different kinds, he gathered at last a sprig of rosemary, and presenting it to her with greater discomposure and awkwardness than she had ever seen him display, he quoted part of Ophelia's speech: "There's rosemary; that's for remembrance.'
Harriette, we have said, had learned in a great measure to control her feelings, but at this moment she was not mistress of herself, and exclaimed,
in her natural spontaneous and unguarded manner : Rather give me something which means forgetfulness.'
He looked at her inquiringly. “Surely, Miss Bertram, there can be no part of your past so painful that you should wish to forget it altogether. It is I, not you, the burden of whose song should be “ Teach me to forget." This last sentence was spoken in a low voice. Harriette was more than amazed. If his words had any meaning at all, they meant something very different from anything she had ever expected to hear from the lips of Arthur Clavering. There was a silence of some seconds. Do you remember the walks, Miss Bertram, we used to take long ago over the hill among the long heather to the heronry?'
Harriette's heart swelled : she had been thinking of them a few minutes before. She felt ready to weep, but she answered calmly: 'Yes; that was a very nice walk, and the weather was fine, if I remember rightly.' An expression of pain and disappointment passed over Clavering's features. He turned away almost angrily. Harriette remarked in a tone of assumed carelessness : ‘Clara, I suppose, is to be home to-morrow?'
Arthur Clavering started. Clara !' he exclaimed, as if some forgotten idea had suddenly recurred to him. “You do not know then—indeed how could
you u ?-Clara is married !' Married !' Harriette almost screamed. 'Yes; she was married two days ago to Charles Crawford !' Harriette looked up in amazement. Arthur continued in an accelerated tone : ‘Perhaps you are surprised that I am not in despair at her desertion; but Clara read me more truly. Clara has set me free-free at least to wish. He looked at Harriette. The blood mounted to her temples; she trembled all over. He spoke again. “Harriette, when I asked Clara to marry me, I believed I loved her, I believed I had forgotten; but the presence of the only woman I ever really loved dispelled the illusion. Harriette, my only love, I am free to offer you again the heart and hand you once rejected. Should you-should you reject them again-oh, I beseech you, do it less unkindly!' and his voice as he finished speaking sarik into a passionate whisper. Harriette had been standing for some time with her face towards the sea, looking on it, on the blue sky, on the gay flowers, and the bright tinted woods, as if all around her was some unearthly dream called up by the reminiscences in which she had been indulging. Could it be that Arthur Clavering stood by her side once more ?—that he asked her love ?—that no barrier lay between them? She turned round. His
eyes sought hers. He had resolved to learn his fate at once, and to bear it; and with the anxious, impassioned glance of the lover was mingled the stern fortitude of the man prepared for disappointment. Harriette was a woman, and a proud one—but she was not so strong. “All impulses of soul and sense' had swept upon her heart like a tempest ; and if Arthur had not caught her in his arms she would have fallen to the ground. It was with a burst of hysterical tears, as she leaned her head upon his shoulder, that the rash reply she had given to his former suit was withdrawn.
Great was the amazement of the circle at Sandilands Hall at the news which awaited them. Mrs Hartley's indignation by degrees became subdued into a sort of compassionate consciousness of the necessity of teaching Clara how to manage her house. Mr Hartley remarked that if Clara and her husband never did anything better, they would probably never do "anything worse than play at cat's cradle, and thump upon the piano. All were much pleased at the prospect of the approaching marriage, and poor Mrs Bertram declared that all she now wished was to return to Fernielee. In due course of time Arthur Clavering received a letter from Mr Bertram, containing an answer to one he had written soliciting his consent to his marriage with his daughter. This letter Arthur declared to be
satisfactory; but he never shewed it to any one, not even to Harriette.
Mrs Bertram's wish was granted : she lived to return to Fernielee, and then sank gradually, and died in the arms of her weak husband, whom the solemn scene appeared for the time to elevate as well as subdue. The third day after her mother's death Harriette sat alone in the embrasure of one of the drawing-room windows. It was a grim November day; the hills were shrouded in a cold gray mist, which crept ever nearer and nearer, gradually obliterating tree, and shrub, and stream, and even the lawn itself, till all between earth and sky was a blank and a desolation. Life, too, seemed blank and desolate; and Harriette wept in loneliness of heart as she remembered that she had now no mother to comfort her. Suddenly she became aware that she was not alone. Arthur Clavering had silently seated himself beside her: his manner was grave, but full of tenderness. "Why do you weep alone, my Harriette ?' he said. “Ought not the severing of one tie to make us cling more closely to those which remain ?' As he spoke he drew her gently towards him, and laid her lead upon his breast. Harriette felt that to weep there was consolation and happiness.