Printed by J. Darling, Leadenhall-Street, London.
In Three Volumes.
Grand-Daughter of the late Colonel Frederick, and
Tales at the Fireside, Banks of the Douro, Poems
Dedicated to Lady Lonsdale, &c. &c.
Printed at the Minerva Press for
A. K. Newman and Co. Leadenhall-Street.
It was on one of the finest summer mornings that are known in the island of Newfoundland, and in the month of June, that Rose Douglas, her brother, and sister Jane, were busily engaged in constructing a bower. They had fixed on a pleasant opening, where a great number Vol. I. B of B1v 2 of trees had been felled. It fronted the sea, and was surrounded with groves of the spruce fir, and intermingled with creeping plants and wild shrubs. Ponto, their faithful dog, lay stretched at his ease near them, and was of that fine and noble species peculiar to this island.
General Douglas, their father, had embarked, with his wife and family, from Quebec, in a sloop of war. A very ill state of health obliged the general to resign a lucrative situation he held in North America; he hoped, therefore, for the sake of those dearer to him than himself, to receive benefit when he arrived in England, from the mild salubrious air of Devonshire. A residence of several years in the West Indies, and in difference climates, had injured a constitution naturally strong, and a soft air was more beneficial for his health than the severity of a winter at Quebec. The cheapness of provisions in the west of England was likewise another recommendation,mendation, B2r 3 mendation, as it would be an advantage, from the contracted state of his present finances.
In a retired valley, embosomed in a wood of many years’ growth, and five miles distant from any town in Devonshire, was an ancient solitary mansion, surrounded with a few acres of ground appertaining to it, though formerly a very large estate belonged to the house. This was now the property of the general, in right of Mrs. Douglas, his wife; and to this place he intended to retire on his landing in England.
General Douglas was descended from one of the first families in Scotland, and began the world with a good fortune, besides his commission; but a generous unsuspecting nature made him too easily a prey to the artful, cold-hearted, and designing. Thus, when he married the honourable Miss Treharne, who was as poor as himself, he found he had little more than his sword to depend on. But, B2 courageous B2v 4 courageous in the cause of love as he was brave in the field, he loved too well to despair, and by his judicious conduct, his cool and steady courage, he gained the admiration of his brother-officers. His superiors esteemed him, and his advance in the army was rapid; yet, with all this success, he found it difficult to support the rank of a general officer, as he had little more remaining than his pay. A numerous family, of whom three only were now living, was a heavy expence, but, by strict economy, the general and Mrs. Douglas succeeded in maintaining a good appearance; and being universally respected, the truest harmony, the most unbounded confidence, subsisted between them, and they never regretted, in any scene or situation, however trying, that they had risked friends, fortune, every thing, from their attachment to each other.
The general had a brother, residing in a remote part of Scotland—a bachelor, old, B3r 5 old, rich, and avaricious. He was several years the general’s senior; and though he well knew his embarrassments, would not assist him in the most trifling degree. If he could have been attached to any one, the general would have had the first place in his regard: but, alas! his affection centered in his treasures—they were brethren, wife, children—all, to his sordid mind. But general Douglas endured this with the fortitude of an upright mind. At his death he knew he should inherit the estates (if he withheld his personal property), and with that consolatory reflection he was resigned.
The Enchanter sloop of war, in which the Douglas family had taken their passage, was commanded by captain Burton, an acquaintance of the general’s. The ship was to touch at the island of Newfoundland, to make spruce beer for the crew to drink, who were rather in B3 an B3v 6 an unhealthy state, and severely afflicted with the scurvy, having been for three years chiefly at sea, where they had encountered dangers most severe, with many hardships and privations.
They anchored in a small unfrequented bay, which they preferred, as they did not wish to be interrupted. On landing, they found this spot quite uninhabited; and the sailors, by felling a great number of trees, soon obtained materials for building two huts. In one they placed a copper for boiling the spruce, and utensils for the beer, with every necessary requisite for its completion; and the other hut, on a larger scale, was for the accommodation of the officers and passengers when they came on shore. But the active minds of the young Douglases could not be satisfied with the shelter made by the seamen, and united their efforts to compose a bower, according to their own fancy, which was to be exclusively theirs and B4r 7 and their parents, when they made a visit to the land in the day; for all returned on board at night.
Rose was at this period fourteen years old; but being taller than is usual at that age, with a figure most completely formed, she was generally judged to be seventeen. Her person gave a striking promise of that dazzling beauty which was afterwards so much admired. Rich ringlets of golden hair waved round a face beaming with expressive sweetness and good-humour. The bright lustre of her large hazel eyes was heightened by the beautiful bloom that tinted her cheek. Her features were not strictly regular, but the tout ensemble was so captivating, that no mind of taste thought of asking if that face was regularly handsome.
Felix, her brother (and never was a brother more tenderly loved by a sister), was a year older, and promised to be a model of personal elegance and manly beauty. Nor was his heart undeserving B4 of B4v 8 of an exterior so perfect. Every virtue and excellence that adorn the human heart glowed in his youthful bosom, and gave the fairest prospect of decided worth.
Jane, the youngest, was of a very different disposition, though she had some good qualities, which compensated, in a slight degree, for the excessive violence of her temper. Her spirits were lively and ungovernable; but when good-nature influenced them, her countenance was animated and pleasing. Her blue eyes sparkled with fire; and when she laughed, she displayed the whitest and finest teeth ever seen. Ringlets of chesnut hair, resembling glossy silk, clustered on her pretty little head, and her figure promised to be slender and well- proportioned.
When their bower was finished, they repaired to it every day, and were sometimes visited by their father and mother, who enjoyed the shade and refreshingfreshing B5r 9 freshing sea-breezes, though they all found the gnats and other stinging insects very troublesome. If the weather did not allow them to quit the ship, Rose amused herself with drawing different berries, of which there were a great quantity on the island, and some curious butterflies. She likewise painted a curlew, which Felix shot, feeding on the partridge berry, that makes a tart resembling the cranberry.
The curlews are excellent eating, and, at this season of the year, were exceedingly plump with feeding on the berries. Felix was a very good shot, and supplied the captain’s table with wild geese, ducks, and venison; for a great many deer inhabited the woods in Newfoundland. The sailors, by fishing, procured the fine cod-fish which frequent this coast in shoals, and they were constantly supplied with fresh provision of the best sort.
Felix never penetrated into the woods B5 unattended, B5v 10 unattended, on account of the wolves and bears, that might attack a single person, if ravenous, successfully. The voracious wolf or sluggish bear rarely approached any spot where inhabitants were to be found. The black and brown bear were very harmless, and it was only the white bear that caused any apprehension.
One afternoon, Rose and Jane, attended by their faithful Ponto, had penetrated alone rather further than usual into the adjacent wood, as Felix was gone on a shooting-party. A most fragrant smell tempted them to proceed, and Jane exclaimed—I am certain there is a strawberry-bed near.
They followed the delightful scent, till they reached a bank covered with this refreshing plant in its wild state. The scarlet fruit blushed beside the verdant leaves, and peeped out from the grass that endeavoured likewise to conceal them, but in vain, as its fragrance betrayed B6r 11 betrayed their hidden beauties—like modest merit, that unobtrusive would secrete itself, till brought to light by some penetrating liberal eye.
Rose and Jane regaled themselves, and at the same time filled a small basket for their father and mother, and the good-natured captain Burton. Ponto likewise amused himself, and they could not avoid smiling to see him nipping the strawberries; but fearful he would devour too many, they soon drove him away.
The basket was quickly filled, and they were returning to the bower, when a low moaning broke on their ear from the stillness that reigned around. A deep groan followed. Ponto whined, raised his ears, and darted forwards, while Rose, whose gentle feeling heart was ever alive in the cause of humanity, eagerly but unthinkingly followed the dog to the spot from whence the sound proceeded.B6 Horror B6v 12
Horror and astonishment now overwhelmed her, for, extended on the ground, wounded and bleeding, was a young female Esquimaux Indian. Ponto looked at Rose, wagged his tail, and then lay down by the poor Indian. Jane at this moment came running to them, and assisted Rose to bind up the wound, which was near the shoulder, in the broadest part of the arm, with her cambric handkerchief.
She could speak a little broken English, from having associated with British Americans and English people in her childhood, with whom she had been a favourite, and had ever since been delighted when she could meet with them. In her simple sincere manner she expressed her gratitude to the young ladies, but in feeble accents.
The Esquimaux had lost a great deal of blood, and was very weak; and having helped her to rise, they supported her between them, till they reached their arbour,bour, B7r 13 bour, and reposed her weakened frame on a bed of dried spruce fir boughs, and placed her bow and arrows by her side. The sisters then gave her some wine to drink, which was fortunately in the bower, and covering her with a boat- cloak, made signs for her to go to sleep, and that they would watch at the entrance that nothing should disturb her.
The wounded Indian seemed glad to be in security and quiet, and sleep soon pressed heavily on her eyelids. Rose and Jane sent a sailor to the ship, to inform their parents of what had passed, and seated themselves on a log of wood, under the shade of a tree near the arbour.
When the Esquimaux had remained tranquil about half-an-hour, the sisters went in to see if she slept, and were pleased to observe that her slumbers were as calm as an infant’s. Her long shining black hair flowed nearly to the ground; her skin was a deep brown, and her cheek B7v 14 cheek had the colour of a new-blown rose, from the feverish heat that burnt in her veins. Her features were very pretty, and her face as round as an apple. She had not the large head and flat face that distinguishes the Esquimaux, nor their thick lips; her mouth was small, her lips red as coral, and her form beautifully modelled. The boots that enveloped her feet had slipped off, and discovered the prettiest smallest foot ever seen, and perfectly clean. A plume of white feathers, of a snowy downy texture, and various-coloured beads, decorated her jetty hair, and silver ornaments adorned her ears. Altogether, her figure was interesting and attractive, and quite a novelty to Rose and Jane, who viewed her with admiration and interest.
Kamira (for thus the Indian was named) was exactly eighteen years old. The treachery of a female mountaineer, who was in love with Losquillo, Kamira’sra’s B8r 15 ra’s husband, and endeavoured to entice him from her, was the cause of this outrage—the mountaineer being fearful, while Kamira lived, that she should not be quite successful in detaching Losquillo’s affection from his wife. Kamira had been married only a few months to Losquillo, who was ardently attached to her, when the artful and wicked Robecka, the mountaineer, strove to seduce the affections of her husband.
The tender and gentle Kamira began to be deserted for the bold Robecka, whose tall stature and commanding air seemed as if she demanded homage from the mild and gentle Esquimaux, and her meagre visage and ferocious eye presented a disgusting contrast to the soft countenance of Kamira.
Robecka had all the bad qualities of her tribe, united with the vices of European nations. She was immoderately fond of strong drink, and, never satisfied with any quantity she obtained, still craved B8v 16 craved for more; constant falsehood stained her lips, and no property was secure where she entered. Kamira was soon informed of the fondness of Robecka for her Losquillo, and was resolved, as much as possible, to follow him whereever he went that she could conveniently accompany him, though she disliked roving about, as was the custom of her country-people, and had rarely left home before.
Robecka, though born a mountaineer, was the widow of an Esquimaux, and possessed a worthless, merciless, and revengeful heart. This Kamira knew, and feared that by her constant influence she might render the inoffensive Losquillo as depraved as herself, if she was not also with him to counteract her power; for Losquillo was of that pliant disposition that, like the reed, bends to every blast. This disposition is pleasing to its possessor and associates, when it meets with amiable characters only, who will not take B9r 17 take an unfair advantage; but most dangerous, when a vicious character gains an ascendancy over a gentle yielding mind.
While Kamira remained with her husband, Robecka found her dominion much lessened; and enraged to madness, she watched in ambuscade for Kamira, when she had separated from her party in pursuit of the deer.
Fatigued with the chace, the young Esquimaux had thrown herself on the grass, in a shady spot, to repose her wearied frame, when the sanguinary mountaineer crept unperceived, and before she was aware, stabbed her with a tomahawk.
But the blow was not struck with the force and effect Robecka intended—it wounded her arm, instead of her breast, at which she had aimed; and as the guilty, however daring, are easily alarmed, the approaching voices of Rose and Jane B9v 18 Jane made her afraid to stay and repeat the blow.
The wretch now fled from her victim with the utmost swiftness, only regretting that she had not effectually destroyed her, though she hoped she had wounded her so dangerously that she might linger, and, for want of proper assistance, perish from her wounds, or from being destitute of food. At all events, she knew, from her being in a light slumber, that she could not know who struck the blow, and if she recovered, would be ignorant of her assassin.
Robecka had just reached their nightly haunts, when she encountered Losquillo and his companions. He asked her if she had seen Kamira? and Robecka answered, that two hours since she saw her pursuing a fine red deer, but mentioned that it was in a direction quite opposite to where she had left her, wounded and bleeding.No B10r 19
No more was thought of this till night was far advanced, and she had not returned to their noctural rendezvous. Losquillo then became very uneasy, and after searching for her several days, though always distant from where she actually was, he resigned every hope of recovering her, and gave credit to a tale related by one of his friends. It was, that Kamira had been destroyed by a white bear, as this friend had seen a white bear, by a stream of water, growling over the mangled body of a female Esquimaux, whose dress and size appeared to resemble Losquillo’s lost wife.
It was now the period for him and his party to quit Newfoundland. Disconsolate, he quitted this island, that had proved so fatal to him, resolving never to land again on the detested spot. But the American Indian soon proved that he was not more constant than the more refined European, and, in a very short time, appeared to console himself with the B10v 20 the caresses of the treacherous mountaineer, for the amiable and lovely Kamira’s loss.
While these events were passing, Kamira slowly recovered from the effects of her wound. Mrs. Douglas, with her husband’s and captain Burton’s permission, had her brought on board, where she remained till she was sufficiently recovered to go occasionally on shore. She was then allowed to visit the favourite bower with their children, and to attend them when they walked, or strolled in the woods, with Ponto to guard them.
Rose improved Kamira in the English language, and taught her to read. The rapidity of her improvement was remarkable, and her attachment to them all seemed to grow with it, but more particularly for Rose, whose gentle method of instruction made her like to learn.
Miss Douglas was very proud of her pupil, and it would have made a pretty picture, B11r 21 picture, to have sketched the deep embrowned countenance of the Esquimaux, in her native dress, on her knees, taking a lesson from the fair-haired English girl, in whose face sweetness and benevolence were depicted.
But Kamira was very melancholy, though her wound was nearly healed. She had learnt, from two mountaineers who came in a shallop to the bay, that Losquillo had landed at Labrador, and was gone up the country, a great way off, with Robecka, to whom, it was reported, he was now married, as Kamira was supposed to have been murdered by the bears, or eloped with another Indian.
When Kamira heard this, she wrung her hands, struck her bosom, and wept.
Rose cried to see her poor Esquimaux thus afflicted, and tried to comfort her; and the general and Mrs. Douglas, who were also present, strove to sooth her.
When she was a little recovered, Kamira gracefully addressed them.—Good white B11v 22 white people, said she, extending one arm as she spoke, take Kamira to your country, where the great king lives. Let her be your servant and your children’s! Your great king and your country shall then be hers. Never shall the chain you have bound round her heart be broken; the chain shall be always bright. No people have a quicker feeling of injuries, nor a more grateful rememberance of favours, than Esquimaux Indians. If you wanted food, my bow and arrow should kill the wild deer as it runs, and the birds as they fly in the air; I would catch the fish too, as it moves in the water, for you. If you required clothing, I would hunt the beasts for their fur, to keep you warm, and bears’ and foxes’ skins I would lay at your feet.
As she pronounced these last words, the Indian bowed her head, and knelt to them.
The general raised her up, and Mrs. Douglas, with his approbation, assured her B12r 23 her they would be happy to take her under their protection, if she was certain she would be contented at a distance from her native land, and consent to wear an English dress; that if she agreed to it, she should be dressed in a few days as an Englishwoman.
The docile Kamira gladly complied with this request, and from that moment became more cheerful, as her fate was now decided, and she was not in a state of uncertainty, as suspense was painful even to her uncultivated mind.
The following day, when Felix was as usual absent, engaged in hunting or shooting, the sisters were sitting with Kamira, in a small grove of birch and mountain-ash trees, almost out of sight of the bower and huts, when a loud scream attracted their attention. They looked around, and saw the sailor-boy, who watched the spruce when boiling in the copper, running with great speed to them.They B12v 24
They advanced to meet him, and his face presented the truest picture of terror they had ever seen.
What’s the matter, Jack? said Miss Douglas.
He was almost breathless with running, and could not speak for a few minutes.— Oh, ladies! he then exclaimed, a great black bear has just come into the hut, and went to the pan where the molasses is kept, to put in the beer, and, I dare say, has eat it all up by this time. While he was busy licking it up, I ran out, and was so glad, for I was afraid, when he had pleased his sweet tooth, he would have eaten me up.
Rose and Jane burst out a laughing, and Jack was very angry, and shook his head.—You would not have laughed, said he, in a surly tone, if you had been there; for I am sure he would have devoured you and me, if the molasses had not been in the way to please him. And who knows, when he comes out, but C1r 25 but he may fly at us, and tear us to pieces? for I left my gun in the hut, I was in such a hurry to get out.
Ladies—Jack—all go away, a great way off, said Kamira, and with my bow and arrows you see me kill great bear; Kamira kill many bears, wolves.
Rose and Jane ran back to their bower, and Jack got up into a tree, as he judged that it would be too much engaged with the Indian, when she attacked it, to climb after him.
Surfeited with its sweet food, the shaggy animal presently came slowly from the hut, and Kamira aimed an arrow so dextrously, that it pierced the rough beast to the heart; it staggered and fell, but not till another arrow had darted through its head. Kamira aproached when she saw it motionless, and then called to Jack, who descended quickly from his leafy situation.
When Rose and Jane perceived him with Kamira, they knew all danger was Vol. I. C over, C1v 26 over, and hastened to the spot. They were delighted, as well as Jack, to see him extended lifeless, as they feared, if he had not been dispatched, he would have made them another visit.
Rose now proposed that they should make Jack a present of the bearskin, to sell when he arrived in England, as a little compensation for his fright, and for having been laughed at.
Jack was quite pleased, and said he should not mind if another bear came, provided Kamira was there to shoot it, whose skill he much admired. He entertained the ship’s crew when he returned on board with the story, and the wonderful dexterity of the young Esquimaux.
The period now expired for the Enchanter sloop of war being stationed at Newfoundland; and the spruce beer was made, and all ready for sea. Kamira was seen attired as a neat English servant. She was willing to do every thing C2r 27 thing well, and had such a quick capacity to learn, that Mrs. Douglas found her most useful and attentive. She looked very lovely in her new attire, but not so handsome and interesting as in her native dress.
Felix and his sisters expressed their regret at leaving the island where they had passed so many happy hours to their mother, who replied—And you will ever lament and remember it, my dear children. The world is now opening to you; and though I hope you will ever retain a taste for pure and simple pleasures, yet I fear you will seldom meet with them so unalloyed, as in this sequestered bay, in the island of Newfoundland.
A favourable wind now filled the sails of the ship in which they embarked: they weighed anchor, and the vessel cut the waves.
Rose stood on the deck, and Kamira sat near her, drooping and sad.C2 When C2r 28
When the island and coast of Labrador were no longer distinctly seen, Kamira clasped her hands in agony, stretched them towards the coast, and in the most touching tone of voice, and moving expression, exclaimed—Losquillo! Losquillo! oh, my own Losquillo!
Nothing unpleasant occurred during the voyage of the Douglas family to England; C3r 29 England; but when they landed, the general found himself rather more indisposed than usual. They affectionately took leave of captain Burton, who was a good-natured friendly young man, and promised, whenever the duties of his profession would allow, to visit them at Treharne.
By slow journeys they passed through Wiltshire, Somersetshire, and Dorsetshire, that general Douglas might not be too much fatigued. Though they admired the counties through which they had passed, yet Devonshire claimed their greatest admiration, from its picturesque and varied views.
Every thing was new and delightful to Kamira, who had not time to reflect on any painful subject, her mind being soothed with unchanged kindness, and engaged with a variety of objects. Her young friends were nearly as much entertained as the Indian, for it was so C3 many C3v 30 many years since they had been in England, that all was novelty.
It was late in the evening when the party arrived at Treharne, and its sombre shade, that darkened the adjacent woods, threw a melancholy gloom over the edifice, which was seated in a deep valley. But no melancholy existed in the minds of the younger part of the family.
Notwithstanding they derived a great deal of amusement from their journey, yet the idea of reaching their own home was most pleasing, and Rose observed to Felix—There was something in home that was always sweet and agree able.
The building appeared to have been intended for a place of great security, and its venerable majestic appearance gave it an air of departed grandeur. It had four turrets, and was encompassed by a deep moat, which extended to the river C4r 31 river that flowed in front of the edifice.
To enter Treharne Hall, you were obliged to cross this river, that meandered through the valley; and for that purpose an old drawbridge was let down, which was seldom drawn up. The river was narrow, and a boat kept moored there to row from the Hall, and another on the opposite side, for the convenience of crossing the water.
An aged man, with hair as white as silver, and florid complexion, was waiting on the bank of the river to ferry them over. His daughter, a stout, healthy young woman, opened the Hall- door, and conducted them into the mansion, where her father and herself had done their utmost to make it as comfortable as they could.
Robin had been an old domestic of viscount Treharne’s, Mr. Douglas’s father, and was much attached to the memory of his lord.C4 the C4v 32
The vestibule was hung with armour, intermixed with statues of some of the ancestors of the Treharne family. The house was furnished in the most antique style; and they were much entertained with the uncommon height of the candlesticks. The chairs in the eating-room were of gilt leather, and so heavy, that no female hand could lift them. Flowered crimson satin curtains ornamented the drawing-room, to which the rest of the furniture corresponded, and the walls were hung with family pictures. The oaken floor was rubbed till it shone like a looking-glass, and it was so slippery, they could hardly walk on it—Mrs. Douglas proposed purchasing a carpet as soon as possible. But the library was the apartment they most admired, as it appeared to contain an extensive collection of books, and looked into a beautiful shrubbery, filled with rose-trees and a varied number of beautiful shrubs, though they had been neglected C5r 33 neglected for many years, and flourished in all the wild luxuriance of nature, as Robin was too old now to work hard, therefore it was impossible for him to keep all the grounds in perfect order.
The family at Treharne had been settled there but a very short time, when they received visits from several ladies and gentlemen, who were resident at that period in the neighbourhood and many miles distant. After they had appeared at their parish church, which was half a mile from the hall, and situated in the large romantic village of Fairfield, they were visited likewise by its most respectable inhabitants. Mrs. Douglas felt additional satisfaction at their having a prospect of society, as she wished Rose, from the timidity of her disposition, to be frequently in company, that she might in some degree conquer it, as her natural diffidence obscured her merit, and she appeared to less advantage. Often was her timid reserve ascribed to a C5 haughti- C5v 34 haughtiness and pride, quite opposite to her real character, for no one could be more humble and modest.
The affection of this good mother for her children filled her with a thousand apprehensions. It made her look forward to futurity, and ruminate with anxiety on the general’s ill state of health. In the event of his death, their circumstances might probably be cruelly embarrassed, and, deprived of their valued protector, they would have to encounter a world which the excessive timidity of Rose little calculated her to meet. Had she possessed the unblushing confidence of Jane, she would not have been so anxious, and hoped her path through life would be less dangerous and painful: yet, while she prepared her mind for whatever misfortunes might be inflicted, she still trusted that the blow she dreaded would be long averted, as the loveliness of her daughters made her tremble for their fate.They C6r 35
They had, indeed, a brother, most tenderly attached to his sister, but she expected that in a year or two he would be separated from them. Felix had alreaddy evinced a decided preference for the profession of arms; and it recalled to the general’s mind the youthful ardour that had glowed in his own breast at his age, and therefore he could not oppose his inclination. He wished, with Mrs. Douglas, that Felix had fixed on a pursuit more lucrative and less replete with danger, yet felt an irresistible pleasure at his brave boy evincing the same predilection as he had for a military life.
The first visitor they had at Treharne was lady Morrington. She came in a curricle (she drove herself very well), and accompanied by a young emigrant French lady, who was her companion. Her ladyship apologized for lord Morrington’s not coming with her, as he was particularly engaged.
Rose and mademoiselle de Rimont C6 were C6v 36 were mutually pleased with each other. The countenance of the latter was pleasing and animated; her figure was very small, but well proportioned, and had she not been marked with the small-pox, she would have been pretty; and her agreeable lively manners made her preferable to one perfectly handsome, who wanted animation.
Mademoiselle de Rimont laughed, and told Rose, that before they called, she said to lady Morrington—I hope Mrs. Douglas and her daughters are not formal and stiff in their behaviour, as most of the English, for I detest them when they are so. As for the general, I doubt not he is polished and passable, for military men are seldom ceremonious and reserved.—I should like very much, added she, to take a walk in your garden, which, I hear, is very pretty, as your mother and lady Morrington appear to be earnestly engaged in conversation.
Rose assented, and mademoiselle de Rimont C7r 37 Rimont followed her and Jane to the moat, where general Douglas had just had a temporary wooden bridge placed across, for the convenience of walking to the garden, as it was more convenient than ferrying over in a boat.
The garden had a wide terrace, which commanded a pleasing view, and the most rare, sweet-scented, and beautiful shrubs and flowers, were planted profusely on each side. At the end of the terrace was a walk, shaded with high trees, terminated by a picturesque pond, planted on each side with weeping willows. The terrace sloped down to a lawn rather extensive, with a wall all round. It was concealed with trees, so thick that you could read, work, or walk, without being seen by any one.
Here the sisters and mademoiselle de Rimont strolled.—I wish you may often come to Morrington Castle, said she, as I think you will be amused. It is deliciously situated, bounded on one side C7v 38 side by magnificent hills, on the other by the sea, where there is a machine to bathe. My lord has an excellent Italian cook; and do not think me a glutton for being pleased at having French dishes well dressed every day. His lordship has a great share of vivacity; the house is constantly full of company, and he will insist on my being always present, as well as the English governess. But I must tell you, ma chere, she continued in a low voice to Rose, for Jane was gone to procure some fruit for her, that there are disagreeable things, as well as agreeable, in the family. Lord Morrington is the only child of the dowager lady Morrington. He is consequently an enfant gâté, and terribly passionate; he swears and damns every body, if out of humour—but it does not last; he is then feeling and sorry—altogether very eccentric. Lady Morrington is likewise of a very cheerful disposition, and behaves to me and the C8r 39 the governess as if we were her sisters: but my lord and herself have deceived me respecting my situation there. I was to be her companion, as she was acquainted with my parents in France, and to instruct her little girls in French and music, which the governess does not properly understand, and good masters are not to be had in the country; but I am now desired to teach two boys also, and another just come from school; a little cousin is likewise introduced at the lessons. What is still more ridiculous, not satisfied with this, when we are without company, lady Morrington makes me read French, and the governess translates it very indifferently, which is quite wearisome; et je vous assure que je m’ennuie beaucoup c’est bien triste. But, to make amends, lady Morrington is lively, gay, and good-natured—elle badine, and says she will get me a good husband, as many agreeable young men visit at the Castle: but one, she will say, is C8v 40 is stingy, another worthless, and this one jealous; and her diverting manner sometimes amuses me.
At this moment Robin appeared, to inform mademoiselle de Rimont her ladyship and the carriage were ready. Rose and Jane attended her to lady Morrington, who solicited them to come with their mother, when she returned the visit, which she politely hoped would be soon. Miss Douglas, delighted with her new friend, affectionately wished her good-morning; and Jane, as she presented the fruit, said she hoped to gather some more for her very shortly.
Miss Polly Wizzle, the daughter of the apothecary at Fairfield, was announced the instant after lady Morrington drove off. She was about fifty, affected youthful levity and a youthful style of dress, but appeared very good-humoured, which prepossessed Rose and Jane in her favour. Her face was round and chubby, of a yellow hue, and thickly seamed with C9r 41 with the small-pox, but almost constantly on the broad grin, secretly to display a good set of teeth; this beauty would naturally have been discovered without distorting her countenance incessantly. Her father, mother, and brother, desired their compliments, she told Mrs. Douglas, and would embrace the first opportunity waiting on her and the general; but her father being now indisposed, her mother was engaged in nursing him, and her brother, Mr. Jeremiah Wizzle, in attending his father’s patients.
Mrs. Douglas replied, she would be very happy to see them; and after some desultory conversation, Rose, with the enthusiasm of a young mind, to whom all is new and delightful, expressed how much she was charmed with mademoiselle de Rimont.
I am sorry to hear you say so, Miss, begging your pardon, said Miss Polly Wizzle. Why, you have not known this C9v 42 this lady even a few hours, and how can you be so taken with her? And a Frenchwoman too! La, bless me! you must excuse my prejudice, but I never could fancy any foreigners, but, above all, a French person; they are so deceitful to what English folks are!
Rose was astonished and hurt to hear this opinion of her new acquaintance, and looked dejected.
Mrs. Douglas, who knew, from her undisguised expression of countenance, what passed internally, smiled, and thus addressed Miss Wizzle—Forgive me if I cannot coincide with you respecting the deceit of foreigners, and particularly of the natives of France, against whom you seem to be most prejudiced. Politeness and attention are not incompatible with sincerity; and we ought to feel grateful to those who, by their refined and attentive manners, put us in good-humour with ourselves. I have C10r 43 I have known some French ladies and gentlemen who have proved the most ardent and sincere friends, and I have known many of my countrymen and women, under a coarseness of behaviour that disgusts those accustomed to good society, conceal a deceitful insincere disposition. But I thank you, Miss Wizzle, for your observations, as I wish my daughter to check her propensity to be so easily charmed with every new object, as she will find it dangerous, when she is introduced into the world, and has not her mother to always guide her in the choice of a friend or acquaintance: when she has seen as much of mankind as we have, she will not be so sanguine.
Miss Wizzle did not appear pleased at being classed with Mrs. Douglas, who, in fact, complimented her highly by it, as Mrs. Douglas was ten years younger than Miss Polly Wizzle; but she liked to be associated in every respectspect C10v 44 spect with the young people, whose parties she always joined, in preference to the society of those more suitable to her time of life. She was now dressed in deep mourning, and looked very respectable, with her hair thickly powdered, and as white as the sugar on a twelfth-cake.
Miss Polly discouraged Rose’s sudden partiality for mademoiselle de Rimont, but proved herself equally weak, by affecting to be quite captivated with Miss Douglas and her sister; and calling them her sweet young friends, hoped they should frequently meet and walk together.
As she was talking in this strain, Miss Jane Douglas said, with great naïveté— Don’t be displeased, Miss Wizzle, but I think you are as giddy as Rose, for you seem as much pleased with us as Rose is with mademoiselle de Rimont.
You know that is quite different, my dear, rejoined Miss Polly, with the usual grin; I am an Englishwoman, and sincere— C11r 45 sincere—nothing hollow about me: I am not French.
Jane found it difficult to repress an inclination to laugh, as she thought Miss Polly had no reason to fear being taken for a French lady, as her manners were so inferior. She was quite relieved at her rising to take leave; and when she was gone, diverted herself at her expence.
Mrs. Douglas checked her.—She is certainly very ridiculous, Jane, but I shall not allow you to laugh at her, as I think her a good-natured well-meaning woman, and will not have her censured, unless I find any thing in her mind to disapprove. For her prejudices I make an allowance, as she has been educated in a village almost two hundred miles from London.
Kamira appeared perfectly happy, and assisted Dolly, Robin’s daughter, who was very kind, in doing her work. The Indian quickly learnt every thing that Dolly C11v 46 Dolly knew, and was partial to the kitchen department, and most laborious employment, from having been accustomed to violent exercise. Dolly was infinitely pleased, as she preferred waiting on the young ladies and Mrs. Douglas, and working at her needle, which Kamira disliked.
Adjoining the kitchen was a small neat housekeeper’s room, where Dolly sat with Kamira when their toil was finished. Dolly sometimes worked at needlework, and Kamira sung Esquimaux songs, and related stories of her country, which she described to the wonder-struck country girl, with their sports and customs. Then would Dolly astonish Kamira with tales she had heard from her childhood, of ghosts and hobgoblins most terrific.
At the period of this history, the lower class of people in Devonshire, and even the farmers, tradespeople, and others of respectability, were very superstitious,stitious, C12r 47 stitious, and believed in spirits, witches, and fairies. The fairies they called ferries and piskies; and Dolly told Kamira there was a field near Treharne, called Ferrie’s Field, where you could see the rings in which they danced, and whoever went through that field at night was pisky-led, which meant, that they could not find their way out all night, but kept walking about to discover the stile, and did not, till the sun rose.
Dolly said her uncle was pisky-led in that field, and he heard the little ferries laughing at him because he could not find out either stile, as there were two in this field, it being a thoroughfare.
Felix and Miss Douglas were passing the housekeeper’s room one evening, when they heard Dolly, who had an harmonious voice, singing a very pretty tune. They both went into the room, and asked the name of the song.
It is an old country ditty, replied Dolly, C12v 48 Dolly, that aunt Brownson, the miller’s wife, taught me.
You will oblige us, said Felix, by singing it again.
Dolly, blushing, replied—She was ashamed to sing before a gentleman and lady.
Never mind Mr. Felix and Miss Rose, cried Kamira; Miss Jane would make game, but Mr. Felix, Miss Rose, they no laugh. Tell all about ghosts in white, eyes on fire; and little ferries dance, and laugh and sing. Oh, such prit story that you talk me! and they make me all fright, and yet like to hear them.
I shall be pleased to hear the stories, said Felix, but I would rather have the song first; and I know my sister would too.
Dolly answered, that she would obey their wishes, but must inform them this song was taken from a true story, that happened D1r 49 happened when there were many more ferries than there were then. There used to be a little pisky come to Treharne, and when the maids were clean and industrious, do their work; but now she seldom came, and she had not seen her, though Robin, her father, had. After apologizing for having a cold, which made her hoarse, Dolly at length began.
In ancient days, when ladies great
They turn’d the spinning wheel,
The baron’s daughter, Emma fair,
She plied the rock and reel.
And when her wheel industry turn’d,
The flax she quickly drew,
Proud of her child, her mother’s love
For Emma daily grew.
Sweet Emma early rose one morn,
The dew was on the grass,
To end a task her mother gave,
Her other work surpass.
To spin the yarn she early rose,
Ere gleam’d the morning sun;
But wonder struck the lovely maid,
Behold, that task was done!
And soft a voice harmonious breath’d—
My favour’d gentle maid,
Don’t curious be, nor let thy friend
Be easily betray’d.
Seek not to know: a friend sincere
On thee unknown doth gaze,
And with thy mother’s love thou’lt gain
Esteem, unenvied praise.
Meek is thy temper, kind, serene,
Industrious as fair;
And if not curious, shall be nam’d
The maiden good and rare.
Ingenuous, thy spotless mind,
That others’ woes can feel;
Yet I would illegible1 letterach thy artless breast
No secret to reveal.
For one I knew was pure as thou,
With gossips, stories tell,
And soon her tongue, that lik’d to talk,
Did scandal relish well.
Nightly I’ll turn thy spinning wheel,
To prove my friendship true;
Yet diligent thou still may be,
And other work pursue.
The voice it ceas’d, and Emma sigh’d
To know this friend so kind;
Her only fault, too curious maid,
A restless, prying mind.
Inquisitive, for many nights
She could not rest or sleep;
At length she thought ’twould be no harm,
To slyly take a peep.
All in the baron’s castle slept,
The moon shone bright and clear,
Imprudent Emma softly creeps,
Though trembling, wan with fear.
In the great hall her wheel was plac’d,
Which quick a beauty plies,
Though tiny was her dazzling form,
Of azure blue her eyes.
The wings of butterflies composed
Her robe of texture rare,
A wreath of apple-blossom twin’d
Her light and silken hair.
Sweetly she warbled, gaily sung—
Ah, little does she know,
My pretty mistress, that I’m nam’d
For her I’ll cull the scented flow’r,
The ripest fruit that grows;
Emma no curious lady is,
Or prattling slander knows.
Away, ye cares! nor wound her breast,
Of candour, truth, the throne,
A virtuous youth, of noble birth,
Shall Emma call her own.
Forewarn’d of curiosity
Was Emma, ne’er deceiv’d;
My watchful care— The fairy starts,
Her figure is perceiv’d.
Dim grew the light—a cloud obscur’d
The moon’s soft splendid beams;
The warning fairy disappears,
Like fleet illusive dreams.
No wish could lure her back again,
Repentance or device;
But Emma ever lov’d the fay,
Observ’d her mild advice.
Felix and Rose thanked Dolly, and praised her singing and the old ballad, which they thought very interesting, they told her, but could not believe it was taken from a real history.
If you don’t believe me, I am sure you would believe what aunt says, if you heard her tell all about it. I believe she has seen the baron’s daughter, when she was a little girl, and she was as D3r 53 as handsome a young lady then as you’d see on a summer’s day. Bless you! I should have sung better if I had got a bit of lemon to suck first; it is such a good thing for the voice. When cousin Betty comes to see me, I ask her to sing, because she knows hundreds of songs, and she always says, have you a piece of lemon? If I have, I give it to her, and when she has sucked it, she will begin to sing, till her voice echoes through the house; you may hear her a mile off.
Felix laughed, and said—We are quite satisfied with the tone of your voice. I should not like, Dolly, to hear any one to sing so loud.
It is enough to stun a body indeed, replied Dolly; but it seems fine to hear such a clear voice.
Yes, if you were lost in a wood, and wished to be heard, rejoined Miss Douglas; and pray, Dolly, do not apply to lemon, if it is to have such a noisy effect. I suppose your aunt has left off D3 singing D3v 54 singing songs now; but I should like to hear some of her tales. We will walk over to see her to-morrow evening, as we have no engagement, if it is agreeable to you, Felix; and Dolly must be one of the party, to introduce us to her aunt.
Felix replied—I thought we were going to Fairfield, to see doctor Wizzle and his lady; otherwise I like the plan of visiting aunt Brownson.
That is only to be a morning visit, said Rose; but I forgot—I have not yet asked my mother’s permission. Is it far, Dolly, from Treharne?
Only half a mile to the bottom of the hill where she lives, Miss.
Felix and Rose easily obtained leave to visit Dolly’s aunt, and Jane requested to join them in their walk the next evening.
The following morning Mrs. Douglas, her son and daughters, walked to Fairfield, and directed their steps to doctor Wizzle’s D4r 55 Wizzle’s house, as he was usually styled. The general rarely accompanied them in these excursions, as he did not like company, his ill state of health preventing him from enjoying any society; and though he seemed lately a little better, his time was most frequently passed in his library, garden, and in riding on horseback.
Doctor Wizzle appeared to be near eighty, and had a plump, good-natured, rosy face. His figure was thick and short, and his wife’s tall and thin. She was a very dark woman, and always held her hand to her head, from being troubled with a violent pain in her head continually. The son, a little plain man, with his mother’s complexion, was sensible, well behaved, and a good disposition; but his manners were formal in the extreme—frequently quite ludicrous. Miss Wizzle was visiting in the village, but Miss Rachel, her sister, was present. In person she resembled her elder D4 sister, D4v 56 sister, but was quiet and inoffensive in her manners.
When Mrs. Douglas and her children arrived at the apothecary’s shop, they were ushered into a parlour, painted dark brown. The Wizzles rose to meet them, and advanced to the door, exclaiming all together—This is a favour indeed! this is a favour indeed!
The room was so obscure, being at the back of the shop, and painted so dismally, that Mrs. Douglas could hardly distinguish their physiognomy. At length, with great ceremony and compliments, they were seated quietly.
So, Miss Jane, said the little doctor, in his shewy plaid morning-gown, and placing his hands on his knees—so, Miss, you are an American?
Oh no, sir, Jane replied, we were born in England, and have only resided several years in America.
Well, well, I understand, I understand,stand, D5r 57 stand, my dear; but you have early beheld another part of the world. I have sailed to the American islands, though I have never seen London, or been more than thirty miles from this village, where I first drew breath.
I find, mad-dam, cried Mr. Jerry Wizzle, who always drawled out the word madam ridiculously long and slow, that you enjoyed rational solitude when you first came to Treharne, not shunning human beings as tigers, or courting them as friends. I wish health may shower its blessings on the good general, and peace, mad-dam, strew his path with flowers. What more can the world give?
You are perfectly correct, sir, replied Mrs. Douglas, diverted with his uncommon formality.
At this instant Miss Polly was announced. She had returned the day before from Dawlish, where she had been visiting since she called at Treharne, and D5 was D5v 58 was quite enraptured with it. Proudly she shone in all the glory of shining bugles, and a hat loaded with feathers, that waved like those on a horse at a funeral, and seemed adorned for conquest.
Dawlish had quite reanimated her and turned her brain; she could never again endure Fairfield, it was so dull. There were several families of distinction at Dawlish, and a pack of hounds that go out three times a-week; she often fell in with them in her rides, and had she staid much longer, she would have been a keen sportswoman. The second morning after her arrival she had a fine view of the Channel fleet, sailing past the place, and from her bed-room could see the finest sight in nature—the sun rising, as it were, from the ocean.
Very fine, very fine, Polly, said the good doctor: why, Dawlish has made you poetical! But, speaking of more common things than the sun, do oblige us, Mrs. Douglas, by drinking a cup D6r 59 cup of tea here soon, with your son and daughters—I am fond of the company of young people; for your stay is so short now, we have hardly time to feel our pleasure.
The days will lag tediously, maddam, added Jerry, till that time; but my mind’s eye will see you, and my ear retain the sound of your voice; and I hope I shall behold those daughters of yours, looking as very, very pretty as they do now.
For my part, rejoined the doctor, I like to hear Miss Rose laugh, there is something so happy and cheerful in her merry ha, ha. But I cannot think how you amuse yourselves, the Hall stands so very lonely. Do you ever play at cards, as they do in this village, sometimes from eleven in the morning till eleven at night?
We are going to act a play, Jane eagerly replied; it is to be Tancred and Sigismunda. But you would call it D6 burlesquing D6v 60 burlesquing instead of acting. I am to be the heroine, Felix my love, my mother Osmond, as she will do any thing we ask to entertain us, and Rose is to be Siffredi, in a Welch wig and blue domino.
The only tears your tragedy will produce, Miss Jane, answered the doctor, will be tears of laughter, I fancy; and may you never cause any other!— they are not afflicting.
Felix and his sisters were much pleased with the worthy doctor Wizzle, who shook them heartily by the hand when they left him.
In the evening they commenced their walk to Ashwater, where the miller’s wife lived. Their way to it was down a long sloping hill, that serpentined, with trees on each side, and the scenery was beautiful. The cottage of the miller, clean white-washed, and the watermill near it, looked very picturesque. Two other rustic habitations were near, and, envelopedveloped D7r 61 veloped in orchards of apple-trees, had a rural romantic effect. The banks were covered with wood strawberries, and nut-trees (intermingled with eglantine and woodbines), which promised to produce a plentiful stock of nuts.
In the miller’s garden were several neat beehives, with thyme and aromatic herbs planted near, and a profusion of flowers, rose-trees, and myrtles, in bloom, were trained to the casements on the first floor; the roses hung in blushing clusters, and diffused their perfumed odours, and the snowy blossoms of the myrtle gave a spicy fragrance to the evening gale.
A sleek cat, who seemed to live in the abode of plenty and quietude, was gravely seated at the cottage-door. Ponto, who was, as usual, with them when they walked out, began to bark at pussy, and dame Brownson made her apperance, to see what was the matter.
Felix called off the dog, and Dolly now D7v 62 now introduced them to the dame, who was a most respectable-looking old woman, about seventy; and they all entered the cottage. She wished them to walk into her little parlour, but knowing the dame generally sat in the kitchen, they insisted on remaining there, as they were anxious not to derange her.
They admired the oaken dresser, ornamented with old-fashioned china plates, and the best teapot and tea-equipage. A very handsome clock was placed near the door, and an old japan cabinet stood in the corner, filled with punchbowls, glasses, jugs, and china, of an ancient date, that had been handed down, for many generations, to the miller.
Dolly now informed her aunt the young ladies and gentleman would be glad to hear her relate some of her wonderful stories, which had so often entertained her at Christmas time.
I am grown too old now, Dolly, to be good for any thing, even to tell a tale— D8r 63 tale—yet many’s the one I have amused their grandmamma with. She was a dear good lady, when I lived with her as her ladyship’s maid. We were much of a muchness in point of age.
Jane jumped up from the wicker chair she was sitting on, and exclaimed— How! did you ever live with lady Treharne? and did you ever see our mamma?
Ay, ay, Miss—many’s the time, before you were born, or thought of. When I lived with your grandmamma, they did not have such fine ladies for maids as they do now-a-days. Miss Douglas is very like my dear mistress; it’s paying you no bad compliment, Miss, so don’t blush about it, for your grandmamma was called the beauty of Devonshire. But I believe, poor dear lady! she died of a broken heart, at her son’s turning out so wicked, and using his sister, Mrs. Douglas, very ill. Ah, he is a cruel D8v 64 cruel one! Excuse me, Miss, for speaking so of your uncle; but, indeed, your mamma is the flower of the family.
How very singular that my mother did not tell us this! cried Felix.
I suppose, young gentleman, it is because it makes her unhappy to talk about it, as he is the same as no relation, since he never comes to see or inquire after his sister or her children; therefore don’t be noticing to her what I have told, as perhaps she would not like the cat to be let out of the bag.
But if my mother knew you lived here, she would be glad to see you, I am sure.
Why, I can’t say, master Douglas; perhaps it will remind her of scenes best forgot; though, God knows, I should rejoice to see the dear lady I have carried in my arms when she was a baby, and I young and strong.
Dame Brownson and Felix conversed for D9r 65 for a long time on this subject, in which Rose occasionally joined; but Jane looked cross and discontented.
We shall certainly inform my mother of your having known her, and that you lived with lady Treharne, said Mr. Douglas; but we will have the prudence to avoid repeating your description of my uncle, as we would not, for any consideration, make my dear mother unhappy. That is the reason she often sighs and looks melancholy, which I attributed to my father’s frequent illness.
But, dame Brownson, exclaimed Jane, in a peevish tone of voice, I wish you would tell me some ghostly or hobgoblin story.
It is too late, replied Felix, we must hasten home, or it will be quite dark before we reach the Hall, and our parents uneasy.
No, it won’t; do stay a little longer. I would not have come, if I thought to have D9v 66 have been disappointed in hearing something ridiculous.
We have heard what is much more interesting—and perhaps it will fatigue Mrs. Brownson; another time will do as well, and we shall have a good excuse for doing ourselves the pleasure of calling again.
You may call by yourself, sir, and she walked, as she repeated these words, in no gentle tone, into the garden.
I am sorry, exclaimed Felix, you are so childish, selfish, and rude. Pray excuse her, Mrs. Brownson; she will know better when she is older, for her heart is not so much in fault as her temper, which cannot endure the most trifling disappointment.
I am sorry for her, replied the dame, for how will she go through life with any comfort? It is seldom that all goes smooth with the best and richest. Ah dear! she seems of her uncle’s temper; and you, young lady and D10r 67 and gentleman, resemble your mamma and lady Treharne in good-nature.
Just as dame Brownson finished speaking, they heard a loud exclamation from Jane. She had been peeping into one of the hives, and having disturbed some of the bees, two had stung her on the forehead, which swelled up in a moment.
The dame applied some sweet-oil to it, and they wished her good-night, Jane’s good-humour not being heightened by this accident.
Her brother and sister were sorry for her mishap, but had difficulty to refrain from smiling, she looked so ruefully with this addition to her countenance, which had previously lost all sweetness from her cross temper.
As they walked forward, a poor woman was sitting by the side of the road, who you could perceive had been very handsome, though burnt with the sun, and dressed like a beggar. A boy of five years old, well dressed, except his shoes, D10v 68 shoes, which were in holes, was playing before her. Soon after a sailor on crutches, with one leg, joined them, and bowed to the young ladies and Felix respectfully. Neither asked charity, though they seemed to want it.
Something in their appearance moved the compassionate heart of Rose, and approaching, she gave them a few halfpence. They thanked her with a modest air, and the woman then related their distress.
They had already travelled a hundred miles, on their road to a gentleman’s house, who respected her husband, and would befriend him and his family. The night before they had slept in the open air, not having money to pay for a lodging, though they had been accustomed to have a good house of their own, well furnished. Her husband had been a sailor, and lost his leg; in consequence of that misfortune, he worked at a lucrative business, to which he was brought up, and earned two guineas a-week; but sickness, D11r 69 sickness, and the business he was engaged in falling off, they by degrees were reduced to the most distressing penury. Their cruel situation influenced them to undertake this long journey, and they had walked till the poor woman’s shoes and stockings, and her son’s, were in a dreadfully worn-out condition. Of nine children this victim of affliction had borne, this little boy alone was living, and on the road she had been delivered of a dead child.
If you were near our house, said Rose, I could give you some shoes better than those, and some refreshment.
We will follow you there, replied the woman, if you will give us the direction, my lady.
Rose described where Treharne was, and began to walk on very fast, with Felix and Jane, while the unfortunate group followed them at a respectful distance. A little while after they reached home, D11v 70 home, the sailor, with his wife and child, arrived there.
Rose gave them two pair of shoes, a clean pair of stockings for the woman, and some victuals and money, for which they were humbly thankful, and, like people who had seen better days, apologized to Dolly for the trouble they gave her. They all eagerly devoured the food, which proved they were no impostors, and the little boy seemed particularly hungry.
Gratefully they thanked Miss Douglas, saying she was the best friend they had known a long time, and pursued their journey with comfort.
Mrs. Douglas approved her daughter’s conduct, and only lamented their narrow income restrained them from doing more good to these poor people.
They had no opportunity of mentioning dame Brownson having been servant to their grandmother, as the general was present D12r 71 present all the evening, and they were unwilling to introduce the affair before him. Felix likewise was averse to mentioning an unpleasant subject then, as it might revive painful recollections, and disturb their parents’ respose that night.
Jane concealed her chagrin before them, though she could not the accident that had happened. The general told her she must prove herself a soldier’s daughter, by learning to despise pain, and feel contempt for the sting of a bee.
General Douglas found a great deal of amusement in improving this old mansion, and adjoining grounds. He had the drawbridge removed, which was in such a tottering decayed state, that it was dangerous to walk on; and all visitors either came in the boat or crossed the wooden bridge at the back of the house.
The following morning, when the general was engaged in his library, Felix and his sisters repeated the occurrences of the preceding evening.
Deep emotion agitated the countenance of Mrs. Douglas, and her eyes were suffused with tears. After the silence of a few minutes, when she had subdued the feelings that oppressed her, she said—I should like exceedinglyingly E1r 73 ingly to see dame Brownson; she was indeed a very faithful servant to your grandmother, and I shall appoint some time for her to come here, or call on her at her cottage. I rejoice to hear she is so comfortable. It has been, and is now my intention (on the first day that your father passes from home), to relate many circumstances respecting our family, which you are at present old enough to have confided to you. I rely on your discretion, never to speak on the subject (unless with my permission), as it is painful to me to converse on it; but I have long since resolved to conquer this reluctance, as it is necessary you should be no longger unacquainted with the conduct of your near relation. At present we must think of preparing for our visit to lady Morrington; I fear she will judge me a stranger to politeness, if I any longer delay it.
Mrs. Douglas, accompanied by Felix and Rose, rode to Morrington Castle, it Vol. I. E being E1v 74 being customary for ladies who had not a carriage to ride very much on horseback, the hills being so steep, that it was fatiguing to walk far.
Lord Morrington was with her ladyship, and three dogs lay at his feet; several of these canine animals were in the hall, and in every room which they passed through, which gave the Castle the appearance of a dog-kennel. Such was his passion for them, that he suffered these animals even in his bed-chamber, and her ladyship dared not repine, though it was a severe punishment for her, as she was particularly neat and clean. His lordship was a fine-looking man, good-humoured when not irritated, by contradiction to any of his whims, to shew the violence of his temper. He was so partial to the fair sex, that he could not endure a man-servant in attendance on his person. A woman waited on him, called my lord’s maid, who officiated as valet, attended him E2r 75 him at night, and assisted him to undress; and when he was ill, was his constant attendant. He often rallied mademoiselle de Rimont, and told her he would have no ugly woman but herself in the house—in fact, all the females were very good-looking; and, thus surrounded by women and dogs, he was happy.
I hope you had a pleasant ride, Mrs. Douglas, said lady Morrington, and have not met with a disaster similar to that which has befallen mademoiselle de Rimont?
Your ladyship is certainly in the right to laugh, rejoined the lively French girl. I am of opinion that Mr. Thomson, the gentleman you have wished to give me for a husband, intended to kill me, or he would not have lent me (whom he knew to be a novice) so spirited an animal. The horse took fright, and galloped away, without my being able to stop him. I jumped off, being too frightened to check it; and E2 Mr. E2v 76 Mr. Thomson is not well pleased, fearful I should spoil his steed, and will not lend it me again, as I had not the good fortune to break my neck. Imagine how ridiculous my appearance must have been, suspended by my habit to the saddle! Happily the servants were at a distance, as lady Morrington says my legs were very visible.
I think you have had a narrow escape, said Mrs. Douglas; I should not have thought of the ludicrous situation you were in, but of the danger—it makes me shudder. As you are so unskilful, I would advise you never again to attempt riding on horseback—a donkey will be the best conveyance for you; and, if you should be thrown off, you will not have far to fall.
Could you recommend me a governess, Mrs. Douglas? asked lady Morrington, as I am going to part with mine; she has not conducted herself lately in a manner I approve. But I feel for E3r 77 for the poor wretch, as she will find herself very miserable in any other family. My lord persuades me to be very indulgent, but I do not know any governess, or companion, treated so well as ours. In my opinion, too much attention to such sort of persons is quite unnecessary.
His lordship did not notice this speech, as he was engaged in conversation with Miss Douglas; and her mother replied to lady Morrington, that she was not acquainted with any one of the description she required, being lately returned to England, and having mixed so little in society, adding—You must allow me to differ from you, respecting the conduct to be observed to be a governess or dependent. It is true, some are very vulgar, and of low extraction, possessing indeed shewy accomplishments, but deficient in good manners or solid acquirements. Characters like these ought not to be put on an equality with a lady of E3 cultivated E3v 78 cultivated mind, who has been well educated, and is of a good family.
Oh, I do not care a pin for my governess being a gentlewoman, rejoined her ladyship.
You astonish me! said Mrs. Douglas. Is there any thing so dear as one’s children? and can your ladyship support the idea of confiding these beings, endeared to us by nature, to a woman of unpolished manners, and that has not been early accustomed to refined society?
Lady Morrington made some trifling answer to those observations, and Mrs. Douglas judged, from the sentiments she had developed, that her ladyship had a great deal of mean pride. But it ceased to surprise her, when, on her return home, she was informed by her daughter that lady Morrington’s origin was very low.
Miss Douglas accompanied mademoiselle de Rimont into the school-room, to E4r 79 to see the children, and afterwards to her apartment.
Did you observe, said Louisa de Rimont, how proud her ladyship is? It is not surprising, when we consider that she was only a servant before she was married to lord Morrington, who has educated and improved her. How different is my lord! With all his faults, he has no haughtiness, and plays with me as if I was his child. If she were mistress, she would not let me dine at table, and says that a governess, or companion, ought never to make morning visits, and she would be enraged if I did. You see, ma chere, one cannot know people directly, nor indeed for a long time, for I thought lady Morrington very amiable till lately, and now I find it is not all roses. How true is the saying, we must live with one acquaintance to know them truly! She has frequently, what you call in English, a cross E4 look, E4v 80 look, and continually answers whatever I say with the uncivil exclamation of nonsense! in the most ill-tempered tone. It is the governess who has desired to quit the family, as lady Morrington is much vexed at losing her, whom she has used extremely ill.
Lady Morrington, before they parted, obtained a promise from Mrs. Douglas, that she would visit her again in three weeks (with Miss Douglas) for a few days. Her ladyship expected a large party about that period to assemble and remain a fortnight at the Castle, observing, at the same time, that the general and Felix could ride over every day, as she had not room sufficient to accommodate them.
As lady Morrington was one of those deceptive characters who possess only the semblance of good-nature, it is not to be supposed that her attention to Mrs. Douglas proceeded from any prepossessionsion E5r 81 sion in her favour, or amiable motive, but merely to gain a pleasing addition to her party. Mrs. Douglas was, in society, lively, sensible, and exquisitely well- bred; she was perfectly handsome, and her daughters improving daily in loveliness, made them a desirable acquisition, more particularly as Mrs. Douglas, though not affluent, was known to be related to one of the most ancient families in England. The general was likewise well born, and his connexions wealthy. Rose Douglas was indeed too young to be introduced into company, but she looked older than she was, and her diffidence and opening charms created indulgence.
On their return home, they found the general had rode out, leaving word that he should not return till the evening. Mrs. Douglas judged this was an excellent opportunity for relating many incidents to her children. They all repaired to the library, and sending for Jane, E5 their E5v 82 their mother commenced her promised narrative:—It was at a magnificent seat of my father’s that I first drew breath, five years after the birth of my brother, the present lord Treharne. When I was of an age to distinguish one object from another, and capable of any attachment, I was partially fond of my brother, as he continually amused himself in caressing and playing with me. He was then a handsome good-natured boy, and did not develop the seeds of those vices so fatal to himself and his relations. The days of my childhood passed like a pleasant dream, which served to make the contrast of succeeding hours more painful. My father inherited but a small patrimony to support the dignity of his station; yet he did not feel anxious to have this income augmented, as neither my mother or himself was expensive. The first moment they were sensible of the narrowness of their fortune was when my E6r 83 my brother George had been two years at college. Heavy bills, which he had incurred contrary to their wishes and advice, were brought in; yet they had represented to him, when he was sent to Oxford, that if he wished to sustain the appearance of a nobleman and gentleman, he must not be extravagant. Instead of receiving the mild remonstrances of his parents with contrition, George gave way to the violence of passion he too frequently indugled; and irritating his father, caused my mother to suffer the deepest affliction. Her sweet and gentle disposition could not endure these scenes of indelicate altercation on the part of a son she loved with maternal tenderness. Lady Treharne soothed her husband, who was the best of men and of parents, and was too easily influenced by the wife he loved to pardon him. I was then only eleven years old, and my brother seventeen; but the fury and disobedience he E6 evinced E6v 84 evinced made an impression never to be obliterated, and first weakened my affection for him, as I truly loved and revered my father and mother. From that instant lady Treharne adopted a more rigid economy, and deprived herself of many comforts, unknown to her husband, that she might be enabled to supply my unfeeling brother with additional money to gratify his profuse propensity. Her ladyship hoped by this method to prevent George from wounding and agitating my father’s mind, by running in debt, and even persuaded his lordship to increase his allowance, though very inconvenient to them. By these precautions and deprivations, this excellent mother hoped to save her son from disgrace, and her husband uneasiness. But vain were all her cares to cure a mind depraved by bad company and example. He could not endure the least opposition to his wishes, and was so extremely selfish, that he would not E7r 85 not sacrifice any gratification or inclination, however trifling, to please another, not even for that good mother, whose life was constantly embittered to promote his comfort. George had been absent three years on his travels, and I was seventeen when he returned home, accompanied by a gentleman he introduced as his friend. How striking was the alteration vice and dissipation had made in his appearance, though he had only attained the twenty- second year of his age! A sallow paleness, intermixed with spots of some eruptive humour, had taken place of the manly bloom which gave a tint of health to the fairest skin a man should possess. His figure, graced by personal symmetry, was now disfigured by a distorted limping gait, proceeding from a wound received in his thigh, when engaged in a disgraceful duel; an unskilful surgeon had improperly managed it, and rendered him for ever lame. If I was shocked, imagine E7v 86 imagine the agonizing feelings of his parents, who doted on him, notwithstanding all his faults; and their emotion deprived them, for some time, of utterance. Alas! had his figure been alone deformed, and not his mind, they could have endured the reverse with fortitude after the first shock, however melancholy for them to behold thus early the wreck of a fine person. Had this disfigurement originated from any brave or noble action, or in fighting in defence of his country, it would have consoled them; for too soon did they learn, that those evil propensities which formerly swayed him had increased to an alarming height, with the addition of other criminal faults. On the continent, where gaming is very prevalent, he had acquired that destructive habit, which frequently reduced him to his last sous, and caused him to become considerably in debt. Unfortunately, many persons lent him money, influenced by the excellence of my father’sther’s E8r 87 ther’s character, whose integrity was well known; and from the good appearance lord and lady Treharne made, they were generally supposed to abound in wealth. Unfeeling as George was, he was almost distracted when he reflected on the wretchedness of his situation. The selfish usually are acutely alive to their own afflictions, though they cannot pity the sorrows of another. His despair had arisen nearly to frenzy, and he would eventually have destroyed himself, had not one ray of hope darted into his imagination. He was acquainted with a rich vulgar young man, of the name of Muggins, who had endeavoured at intimacy with George, and been neglected by him. His father had acquired an enormous fortune in trade, to which was added the extensive property bequeathed by a relation who had been successful in India. Muggins had scarcely received any education, and associated with none but low people, the influx of wealth and the splendid E8v 88 splendid property in the East Indies having occurred after he was grown up to manhood. Knowing that my brother was the son of a lord, his attentions to him were overpowering, as he had a great deference for persons of rank, from recollecting the lowness of his origin. The idea, therefore, suddenly suggested itself to George, to borrow a large sum of money of Mr. Muggins, and promise to repay it at some future period, or else procure him the hand of his sister in marriage, which, from his ambition to be allied to rank, he was convinced would make him enraptured at such a proposal. In consequence of this scheme, my brother gave so fascinating a description of my beauty, accomplishments, and sweetness of temper, that the foolish young man became quite enamoured of the favourable portrait he drew, without having seen the original, and complied with every request his pretended friend made. "George E9r 89 George then studied to improve his manners and language, and succeeded in rendering him decently behaved, and his ignorance unsuspected while he remained quiet and said little. He now introduced his hero, hoping success from my youth and inexperience, as the young man possessed a handsome exterior. Not the most trifling remorse did my brother feel at the thought of consigning me to the arms of an ignorant vulgar young man, rather deficient in intellect, though his heart was naturally inclined to rectitude. My father and mother easily discerned, through the flimsy veil of attempted good-breeding, which sat very awkwardly on poor Muggins, that he had been accustomed to inferior society; many incorrect and mean expressions betrayed him when he spoke with the least energy. They were astonished at their son’s selecting such an associate, and pointed out to him that a companion of this description was not respectable, E9v 90 respectable, with whom he could never obtain improvement or pleasure. In answer to these observations, George represented that Mr. Muggins had the best heart in the world—had been serviceable to him when abroad, and shewn him great civility, which made him anxious to evince his gratitude. A motive so laudable I perfectly admire, replied my father, and am pleased that grateful sentiments should influence your conduct; yet it is not necessary to be constantly with Mr. Muggins, or to obtrude him so frequently on us. George promised he should be less intrusive: but whenever I walked out with my governess, he was continually on the watch, and waiting to attend me with Mr. Muggins, and seized every opportunity, when I was alone, of introducing him. My brother depended on my good-nature to conceal these interviews from my father, as I was present when lord E10r 91 lord Treharne expressed his disapprobation of his frequent visits. Mr. Muggins soon became a decided invader of my peace, and pestered me almost daily with letters, in which he declared his passion and offered his hand. Finding I did not notice his proposal, he eagerly declared himself the first moment we were alone, and requested my acceptance of his heart and fortune. To this offer I gave a determined negative, as I was early disgusted with his understanding and manners, so opposite to what I had been accustomed to from infancy. Muggins appeared almost petrified at my resolute rejection of him, and exclaimed—Then Mr. Treharne has completely deceived me! I should not have presumed to declare my attachment, had he not repeatedly protested and sworn you were disposed to accept me. I cannot imagine, I replied, what could have been my brother’s inducementment E10v 92 ment to advance this unfounded falsehood—he who was taught from his earliest recollection how wrong it is to deviate from truth. Though I have little discernment, rejoined Muggins, yet I can easily guess the reason of this behaviour, and shall come to an explanation with him. In the meanwhile, I beg your pardon, Miss Treharne, for being troublesome. Do not go, I entreat, Mr. Muggins, I instantly exclaimed, till you have informed me what you suspect to be the cause of my brother’s conduct; and with great difficulty I at length drew from him the whole story. Afflicted at the knowledge of my brother’s deception, and the effect it would have on my father and mother’s peace, if they knew it, I implored Muggins to conceal what had happened, and, after some opposition, obtained his promise. Obliged, for the first time in my life, to have a concealment, I felt melancholy and E11r 93 and uncomfortable, which I was obliged to disguise, that my dear parents might not suspect any thing had happened to vex me. How much did I compassionate them for having a son so unworthy! In the evening, when I was dressing with a heavy heart for the opera, George tapped at the door, and said he wished to speak to me alone, and would wait for me in the library. I hastened to finish my dress, that I might attend him, and found him anxiously waiting for me. I was surprised at the mild tone of voice in which he spoke, and said he was sorry I would not accept the hand of Muggins, as he was passionately fond of me, and, with his immense riches, might make me the happiest of women —You could then, Caroline, he artfully added, indulge those benevolent feelings inherent in your nature, and make your brother truly happy. Probably you may object that he was not born a gentleman; but reflect, that in England E11v 94 England wealth is idolized, and that you are respected by the generality of people according to the strength of your purse. Make but a splendid appearance and keep a good table, and you may be assured of associating with the best society, were you even the offspring of a chimney-sweeper. This may all be very true, I replied, and I am concerned to disappoint your wishes, which it is impossible for me to comply with. I could not love or respect Mr. Muggins, and this is not consistent with my ideas of marriage. I wish to tenderly esteem the man to whom I give my hand, and to consider him as superior to myself in sense and experience, that I may be guided by his better judgment. What romantic stuff! he loudly exclaimed— what ridiculous sentiments! You do indeed require somebody to direct you. These ideas will not be proper for the world; I advise you to retire to E12r 95 to a convent, or a desert. I could say with Hamlet, Hie thee to a nunnery! You will most likely not have such an excellent offer again, of possessing unequalled wealth, and a good-looking man you may manage, but remain the rest of your life a beggarly girl, and end with being a poverty-struck old maid of fashion. Don’t flatter yourself that men are eager to marry a baby face, without some substantial addition to it. With these words, uttered with an air of rage and contempt, he abruptly left the room. In his countenance every unworthy passion was depicted, and I was overwhelmed with inexpressible affliction at his worthless conduct and opinions, as I could not, from the ties of nature, avoid being interested for him, with all his errors. Yet my affection was not sufficiently strong to render me guilty of the weakness of sacrificing myself to Mr. Muggins. Independent of my aversion to him, I must acknowledgeledge E12v 96 ledge that I entertained at that period a growing attachment for your father, whose goodness of character, bravery, fortune, and family, added to a fine person, were then unexceptionable. He was at that time a major in the guards, and esteemed and admired by lord and lady Treharne, and of their approbation of my attachment I was certain. Ever since my brother’s return to his native country, major Douglas had been on a visit to his elder brother in Scotland, and George had no suspicion of my admiration and regard. While we were thus situated, George, who, notwithstanding my positive rejection of Muggins, still persevered in endeavouring to make him acceptable to me, brought him one day to dinner. A nobleman who chanced to be present was so attentive, and evinced such refined and marked politeness and homage for me, that Mr. Muggins, who unhappily really loved me, was worked up with F1r 97 with jealousy to a degree of frenzy. I was informed that he drank an usual quantity of wine after the ladies retired, which had a more pernicious effect, from being very temperate in general. To the extreme confusion of George, he began quarrelling with him, and, during their dispute, disclosed the transaction that had passed, and George’s base behaviour, to the company and my afflicted and astonished father. Delicate to excess in every point that concerned his honour or his children’s, this unwelcome intelligence pressed heavily on lord Treharne’s mind. He was in consequence seized with a dangerous illness, that terminated in a raging fever. From the circumstances that had taken place, my brother’s affairs became known, as well as his ingratitude to a parent so worthy of dutiful love; and his creditors coming forward, threw him into Vol. I. F prison, F1v 98 prison, indignant at his want of probity and duty. When lord Treharne recovered from the violence of the fever, with a sense of honour too refined he paid all the debts George had contracted, with the fortune his frugality had saved and destined for me, hoping to be again enabled to save part of his yearly income, to replace my little property. But his constitution was so enfeebled by the fever, caused by the shock it had sustained at discovering my brother’s wickedness, that he gradually grew weaker and weaker, and was soon pronounced to be in a rapid decline. The tender attention of lady Treharne to a husband she loved with uncommon tenderness is impossible to be described with justice. She passed her nights without sleeping, watching by his bedside, and never quitted him, unless to procure any thing he wished. The F2r 99 The pain she felt at seeing him suffer imparted so much anguish, that her health was materially injured, and threatened her own speedy dissolution. At length his sufferings became less acute, and calmly did he close his virtuous life. His last moments were only embittered with regret at quitting the world unable to provide more liberally for my mother and myself: yet it was consoling to his feelings, that, while lady Treharne lived, his jointure would amply provide for us both. He little thought that her sensibility and affection would prevent me from long enjoying the comfort of a mother’s love. With difficulty they succeeded in persuading her to quit his breathless form, where she mourned over him who was dearest to her on earth, with all the agony of an affectionate heart; and, had she lived, would have dedicated her future years to his memory. F2 "Thus F2v 100 Thus was I cruelly deprived, by a brother’s corrupt principles, of the best of fathers, and my mother of a husband she loved, and who was deserving of her regard. The conflict was too severe, and, six weeks after lord Treharne’s decease, she followed him to that peaceful grave, where sorrow cannot afflict the good, or insult reach them, leaving me a miserable and deserted orphan. Subdued with keenest anguish for their loss, I was insensible, for a long time, to any thought of my future destiny. My brother, on the contrary, was remorseless, and only regretted that his extravagance had prevented them from bequeathing him any ready money, and that by their death he inherited the family estates only. My mother had been so good as to sell her jewels, to gratify his profusion when he went on his travels; yet he even seemed to envy my possessing this old mansion, with the gardens and fields. "This F3r 101 This was all the property my father could bequeath me, and a hundred pounds in money, as the estate belonging to Treharne Hall not being entailed, it had been disposed of at the commencement of George’s irregularity and superfluous expence. My father on his deathbed, and my mother, during the last struggle of expiring nature, recommended me to their son’s protection. They were consequently relieved in their minds respecting my fate, as they hoped such a solemn charge, made at a moment so awful, would be held sacred, fondly indulging the hope that he might repent his evil disposition, and reform. For a short time after the decease of my mother, whom I lamented and wept for till my health was endangered, George behaved tolerably well, but when I began to recover, he again introduced Muggins, for a reconciliation had taken place, as he could not relinquish further designs on his wealth. Finding F3 I persevered F3v 102 I persevered in rejecting his renewed addresses, which the knowledge of my poverty and dependence encouraged him to repeat, my brother was so enraged, that he commanded me, in the most savage tone, to quit the house in a few days. I endeavoured to support the cruelty of this inhuman relation with courage, as such treatment was undeserved; but all my efforts could not suppress the tears of bitter sorrow that involuntarily flowed. At this critical moment, your father, who had unexpectedly arrived from Scotland, was announced: he had heard of my loss, and was impatient to see me, being warmly interested in what related to my future destiny. He was much agitated at seeing me thus mournfully engaged; though I quickly dried my tears, yet the recent traces of them were too visible. Humane as he was brave, he soothed me with unequalled tenderness, and, stranger for F4r 103 for some time to the voice of sympathy and kindness, I frankly confided to him every thing that had passed since our last meeting. The instant he was in possession of my real situation, with the most unexampled honour and generosity he made me an offer of himself. He avowed that he had long loved me, but having lessened his fortune by imprudently lending different sums of money, it had prevented him from making proposals before; but now that I required a real friend and an asylum, he waved all objections, and if I would deign to accept so poor a man, he should feel the most enviable of human beings, and by his attention and ardent affection would exert himself to soften my sorrows, and heal my wounded mind. Charmed with the nobleness of his character, his goodness and liberality, I could not articulate for some minutes, during which period his countenance F4 betrayed F4v 104 betrayed strong emotion: but when I assured him that I accepted him with gratitude, and that an union with him would secure my happiness, he looked animated and pleased. He would have spoken to George directly, as he had too much proper spirit to fear him; but I would not subject him to his insolence, and packing up my clothes, left my brother’s residence in a hackney-coach, and repaired to the house of the lady who had been my governess, and was much attached to me. There I remained till I had the felicity of being united to your father, and our marriage took place about a week after I left my brother’s protection. His rage, I was informed, was quite ungovernable, when he found I was gone without yielding to his wish to unite me to Muggins, for he weakly imagined to terrify me into compliance. With your father I have experienced the most perfect happiness, and he never caused F5r 105 caused me any uneasiness but the fear of losing him. Of my brother, lord Treharne, I have not had any intelligence, except that he exists, for seven or eight years. Before that time I understood that, conformable to his principles, he married, soon after I quitted him, a very rich citizen’s daughter he despised, for the advantage of her wealth. Of course, they live wretchedly together, as his vile temper made her life, as well as his own, miserable. And now, my dear children, you are acquainted with the cause of my frequent dejection. Can I be otherwise than melancholy, when the recollection of those excellent parents, and their unmerited sufferings, calls forth the tear of deep regret? My only consolation is the remembrance of their distinguished and amiable virtues. May this narrative excite you to emulate their excellence, and the example of your uncle be a warning to you, never to neglect the advice of F5 those F5v 106 those older and wiser than yourselves; as, by contemning their admonitions, George became, painful is it to relate, the destroyer of his father and mother— not, indeed, by unlawful murder, which would have been mercy, but by a lingering death of sorrow, inflicted by the conduct of a child they tenderly loved. I hope it will instruct Jane to correct the violence of her passions, which I have often shuddered to find so strongly resembling her uncle’s disposition. He was unhappy himself, and disturbed the peace of all who had the misfortune to be connected with him.
Jane did not receive this gentle reproof with good-humour, but sullenness. She arose to quit the room, saying, with a pouting face—I am not more ill-tempered than others; but it is easy to see who are the favourites, and whatever they do is thought right.
Felix and Rose looked at her with concern, and Mrs. Douglas with a sigh ordered F6r 107 ordered her to remain, and thus addressed her perverse daughter—I am truly shocked, Jane, at your indulging so envious a propensity, and suspecting me of having favourites, when you are all equally dear. Behave as well as your brother and sister, and you will find yourself as much admired and valued as they are; for you cannot expect, if you are rude and ill-natured, to be esteemed and loved in the same degree as those who are polite and good. It is for your own comfort that I wish you to be of a pleasing, pliant character. Should you continue to neglect the disinterested counsel of an affectionate mother, and feel unhappy with misery of your own creating, when probably I no longer exist, you will bitterly lament having slighted my instruction.
Do tell my mother, exclaimed Felix, that you will endeavour to make her happy by attending to her precepts, F6 and F6v 108 and correcting your faults. When you have just learnt what she has so undeservedly suffered, you ought to exert yourself to ameliorate, instead of adding to her sorrows.
My mother is quite sufficient to admonish me, sir; I do not wish for a monitor in you—you are too young for that office; and she laughed impertinently at him, and then ran out of the room.
I am sorry to find you incorrigible, replied Felix, as she left them; and Rose and himself endeavoured to divert their mother’s mind from dwelling on the untractable violent disposition of their sister.
Felix was sincerely affected with the recital of his mother’s unfortunate destiny before her union with general Douglas; and tears suffused the eyes of Rose, when Mrs. Douglas described the melancholy death of lord and lady Treharne.
At night, when she retired to rest, she could F7r 109 could not, as usual, fall asleep directly, from the different reflections that obtruded involuntarily. Jane, who slept in the same apartment, in a separate bed, was in a sound slumber, when Miss Douglas was disturbed from thinking of what had past, by distinct whispering at the chamber-door. The stairs were close to it, and after a few minutes, she heard footsteps softly descending the staircase, which surprised and attracted her attention. The house-clock at that moment struck two, and she was startled at hearing any one up so late, as the whole family usually retired to rest before midnight, unless they had visitors.
The low sound of voices, and of passing footsteps, ceased, and in a quarter of an hour all was still and silent. Rose felt an uneasy sensation, and unable to compose herself to rest, she got out of bed, and looked from the window, as the moon shone bright and clear. It disclosed to her a sight which she judged was F7v 110 was uncommon, in that retired spot.— About ten or twelve horses were waiting on the opposite side of the river, with four men seated near them, on the bank. In a few minutes they were joined by eight others, and mounting in great haste, they all rode off towards the sea-coast.
Of this appearance she was perplexed what to think. Sometimes she fancied the horsemen were robbers, or smugglers, and had some relation with the voices and footsteps she had heard on the staircase. Whatever might be the event, she felt alarmed and agitated, and observing the precaution of bolting the door, which had hitherto been neglected, she once more sought her restless pillow, and, notwithstanding all her apprehensions, repose soon visited her, from having watched so long.
In the morning she acquainted Felix with what had passed, and did not tell Jane till she had consulted him, as she was F8r 111 was very fond of tattling, and would mention it, she was fearful, to every one.
Felix commended her prudence, and advised her to conceal what she had heard and seen, only confiding in him. It was reported, he said, that Treharne Hall was haunted by the spirits of their maternal grandfather and grandmother, who could not rest in their graves on account of their wicked son. Felix added, that neither his father or mother, he was convinced, would like to hear of the Hall being haunted, as it would revive the memory of scenes they wished to forget. It might possibly have been Kamira and Dolly, who had remained up longer than usual, to do some particular work, and had conversed in a whisper as they went to their room, which was an upper one, exactly above where Rose and Jane slept. Should they mention to the general or Mrs. Douglas her conjecture of their being thieves or smugglers, it would alarm, and, he thought, inconveniencenience F8v 112 nience them unnecessarily. The part of the building where he and his sisters slept was at a great distance from the wing his parents occupied, which had no habitable bedchamber except their own, and it would be troublesome and expensive to refurnish them. Felix entreated her, if she should hear the sounds repeated, to awaken him, as he slept in the adjoining room, and dismiss all uneasiness from her mind, as he was of opinion there was no real cause for anxiety.
Dame Brownson came in the afternoon, in consequence of an invitation she had received to pass the day at Treharne. Mrs. Douglas was much affected at seeing the good old woman, whose tears flowed at beholding her.
Ah, my dear lady, said she, in a tremulous voice, this is an unhoped-for happiness, to feast my eyes once more on the child of my beloved master and mistress. I was told you were gone away, far beyond the seas, many thousandssands F9r 113 sands of miles off, and never expected to meet you again. It glads my heart to see you returned with such a fine family.
Mrs. Douglas made a kind reply, and did all in her power to make the dame pass a pleasant comfortable day, as comfort is the highest enjoyment for any person advanced in age.
In the afternoon, when dame Brownson was in the housekeeper’s-room, with Dolly and Kamira, Rose and Jane went to chat with her, Felix being gone out with the general. It was a stormy evening, and though the Hall was three miles from the sea, you could hear its distant roaring.
I am glad you do not live close to the sea-side, cried the dame, as they say there is a gentleman and lady seen and heard there, at Westpool (which is the nearest part of the sea-coast), when the waves are rough, and we are going to have a storm. Lord William, the gentleman, was in love with a young orphan F9v 114 orphan lady, whom he followed about whereever she went, and would not let her rest, trying all he could to gain her love, and promising her marriage. But this he never intended, thinking it was an honour enough for him to notice her as a mistress, as he was a great lord, and she a poor young lady, without a farthing. At length, with a great deal of persuasion, she ran away with him; and after a few weeks, he picked a quarrel with her, and left her without a penny to help herself with. The loss of him she truly loved afflicted her more than being in want, and in a fit of crazy madness she flung herself into the sea, from a rock at Westpool. But the vengeance of God, who punishes those that ill use the innocent, soon overtook him. He was thrown from his horse, a few days after her untimely end, and dragged by the stirrup to so great a distance, that his body was horribly mangled, and his face smashed all to pieces, that not a feature could be known; F10r 115 known; and his ghost has been often seen with that shocking face. Don’t you remember the ballad about it, Dolly?
Only a line or two, I believe, aunt.
I think, if you try, my dear, you’ll call it to mind, perhaps a whole verse— but sing what you can, to please the young ladies.Lord William flung him at her feet, And bonny blink’d his eye— No other maid shall be my bride, No other make me sigh. Oh, I will place within my breast Thy brown and silken hair; No courtly dame, in cloth of gold, Is like my Ellen fair.
Very well, Dolly; so that’s all you can remember? well, it’s enough to shew how false-hearted some men are, whether gentle or simple, and untrue to young women, if ever so good and handsome, if they have no fortune, like poor Miss Ellen, F10v 116 Ellen, in Dolly’s song. Howsomdever, lord William suffered for it, in this world and the next. He was ordained, as a punishment, I have heard say, to bind the sand of the sea with ropes, and empty it with a cockle-shell, which he can never do; therefore he is doomed eternally to be working hard at what he can never finish. In stormy weather he is often heard, calling out, in a hollow voice—Give me some more rope! give me a bigger shell! I never distinctly heard those words, but when the tempest has been very high, I have fancied I have heard something like it, when the storm loudly roared.
Here dame Brownson ceased relating the history of the ill-fated Ellen.
What a shocking story, Mrs. Brownson! Jane observed. I should not like to see lord William, with his ugly face, as hideous as his disposition was.
You need not fear him, Miss Jane, when you know yourself to be good: an F11r 117 an evil spirit is not allowed to hurt the innocent; and I assure you, Miss, I am more afraid of the living than the dead.
Now, aunt, for the other story of the lady! exclaimed Dolly.
I hope she is not so wicked as lord William, said Rose; I wish to hear of somebody that is good; it makes me dull to hear only of worthless people.
Oh, Miss Rose, there are seldom any stories to divert about them, as they never injure any body, and generally rest in their graves, unless they come to do good. But, dearee me! what is that lad about on the other side of the river?
They all looked, and were much interested at seeing a youth, apparently about sixteen, in a clean but faded green and black livery, washing a pair of stockings in the river. He then hung the stockings on a bush to dry, and taking the white neckcloth from his neck, washed it also. After washing it, he held it himself, to dry in the wind and sun, turning F11v 118 turning it first one way and then the other, as the wind blew, to dry it the faster.
Wholly occupied in his cleanly employment, he anxiously pursued it without attending to any thing that passed, though many persons happened to walk that way at the time, and looked at him with curiosity and surprise. His face was pale, but his shirt as white as snow, which he had undoubtedly washed in a pond, stream, or river.
Rose observed to dame Brownson, that she should like to ask the poor young man in, that he might dry his clothes at the kitchen fire, as his uncommon cleanliness interested her exceedingly.
A word was sufficient for the warmhearted Kamira, who, on hearing this, beckoned to him, and going to the riverside, got into the boat, and soon ferried him over, with his wet stockings and neckcloth.The F12r 119
The story he told was simple and pathetic. His young master, with whom he lived, and was attached to, having died suddenly, he was returning on foot to see his friends in Cornwall, who were respectable farmers, when he was overtaken in a lonely road by a gang of robbers, who robbed him of all his money and clothes, except what he had on, and would even have stripped him of them, had not a sudden noise disturbed, and caused them to run off in haste.
The general, on hearing this account, suffered him to remain all night at the Hall, gave him a change of linen, and money sufficient to convey him with comfort to his friends.
On his arrival at his home, he wrote a grateful and respectful letter to general Douglas, desiring his and his friends’ duty and good wishes to himself, his lady, and children.
The general and family felt much pleased with this instance of humble gratitude,titude, F12v 120 titude, as rare as it is valuable, and is an encouragement to a benevolent mind to continue its active goodness.
Time passed imperceptibly away, and four years had elapsed since the Douglas family were established at Treharne. Felix was the only one of the family who had quitted it for a longer period than a week. The loss of his society was acutely felt by them all, but most severely by Rose, as he was her constant companion in walking and riding; and being fond of reading, like herself, he would G1r 121 would often read entertaining books to her, while she worked, or amused herself in drawing or painting.
An ensign’s commission had been presented to him by a friend of the general’s, and it was nearly two years since they had seen him. He was, however, expected home in the course of six months having been, the greater part of that period of his absence, with his regiment in Ireland.
Rose looked forward with delight to the prospect of her brother’s return, being more ardently attached to him than Jane, who was too selfish a character to be capable of any warmth of regard, though a stranger would have supposed otherwise, from her vivacity and passionate temper.
Rose and Felix were united with the truest fraternal affection, as their minds were similar, though Felix was more lively than his sister. He only wished to be fortunate in life, that he might be Vol. I. G useful G1v 122 useful and of advantage to his family. To shield Rose from the frowns of fortune was his highest wish, as her timid gentle nature ill calculated her to encounter them; and for the vain and confident Jane he felt less uneasiness.
According to her brother’s advice, Rose never divulged the noises and voices she had heard, though at intervals the same sounds continued to occur again; yet as nothing disagreeable or of moment was the consequence, it ceased to make her uneasy. Sometimes the voices were louder, and the noises more strange and alarming. Had she been inclined to superstition, she might have conjectured these sounds proceeded from a supernatural being, as she had exerted herself to ascertain if Kamira, Dolly, or Robin, occasioned at any time these extraordinary noises.
Rose Douglas loved her sister with the tenderest affection, and it often cruelly wounded her that it was returned with G2r 123 with indifference, and that she would not bend her inclinations to please any one, unless it was agreeable to her own desires. Of her mother’s indulgent disposition she took advantage, and was never obedient to any one but her father, of whom she stood in great awe. Yet, when disposed to please, she could be most engaging; but rarely took that trouble of making herself pleasing, except to strangers, who were generally charmed with her on their first acquaintance, though they frequently discovered her character when they became familiar— Jane did not think it worth while to conciliate her relations, and it was sufficient for them to ask any favour for her to be unwilling to comply.
At the close of an autumnal evening, she was returning with her sister from a visit to dame Brownson, who had been very ill, when a storm that had been lowering burst forth tremendously. Torrents of rain poured down, the vivid G2 lightning G2v 124 lightning flashed, and the thunder rolled loud and heavily. They were near a cottage, which was neatly white-washed, and superior in appearance to those of the villagers. They had remarked, as they passed on their way to the dame’s, that the cottage must have a new inhabitant, as it was so much improved since they visited Mrs. Brownson three months since.
The storm increased most violently, and the rain and hail fell so fast, that it was no time for ceremony, and they hastened to the cottage, and loudly knocked at the door. A black girl opened it, and a short fat woman, genteelly dressed, came forward, and begged them, with great civility, to enter. Gladly they consented; and when they walked into the passage, the rain dropped from their dresses, and streamed on the floor.
The lady politely insisted on their changing their shoes and dress, and accommodated G3r 125 accommodated them with her habiliments while theirs were being dried. With great good-nature she likewise offered them a bed, should the tempest continue, as the general did not keep a carriage, and none nearer than Exeter was to be procured.
The storm continued to rage with unabated violence till two hours after it was dark. At length its fury lessened —the warring elements were calmed, and it quite cleared up.
They made many grateful acknowledgements to Mrs. Pryce, the widow lady, for her friendly attention and hospitality, and returned to Treharne, accompanied by Sophia, the black girl, to whom they made a present for her trouble.
They found the general and Mrs. Douglas much alarmed at their not having returned home for so many hours. Robin and Dolly had been dispatched in search of them, and brought back the G3 unpleasant G3v 126 unpleasant intelligence that they had left the mill several hours; but they quieted their apprehensions with the hope that they had taken shelter somewhere.
With the kindness Mrs. Pryce had evinced to their children they were much pleased. They described her as having the remains of a very handsome face, with a diminutive fat person. Her conversation was suitable to a woman who had received a very superior education, and whose mind had been highly cultivated. Extremely lively and eccentric, she was of that character that was certain of pleasing two young people who knew nothing of the world, and had never seen any one like her. She laughed immoderately, and would repeat scraps of poetry in the most theatrical style, which was quite a novelty to them.
The following day was remarkably fine, and Mrs. Douglas desired them to call upon Mrs. Pryce, with her compliments and a basket of excellent grapes, which G4r 127 which Kamira was to carry, as their mother understood from Jane that Mrs. Pryce had four children, two of whom were very young, and she concluded the fruit would be very acceptable for them.
When they entered the cottage-garden in front of Mrs. Pryce’s residence, which opened with a wicket-gate, they heard a most discordant noise, that sounded as if some person was scolding furiously. They tapped at the door; but the harsh sounds within prevented their being attended to, and gently lifting the latch, they walked in, and found Mrs. Pryce in the passage, with a stick in her hand, beating the black girl.
The girl was crouched on her knees before her, crying, while she loaded her with the most opprobrious names; yet no sooner did she perceive the young ladies and their attendant, than she ceased her clamour, and welcomed them with an affected smile of good-humour, G4 while G4v 128 while the poor girl silently made her retreat.
Kamira had not been accustomed to such scenes at the general’s, and could hardly restrain her indignation. She would, with her natural warmth of temper and frankness, have declared her anger at this barbarous sight, had not Rose looked expressively at her. This alone prevented her from mentioning her abhorrence of such inhuman behaviour, which was peculiarly revolting in a female who had any pretensions to the character of a gentlewoman, and whose education should have made her more refined.
Mrs. Pryce insisted that the young ladies, if they had no engagement, should pass the day with her, to which Jane gladly assented, saying they had none, as most of their acquaintance in the country were absent—some in London, and at different places.
Rose did not like to remain a whole day G5r 129 day with her, as she was a stranger, and the specimen she had just witnessed of Mrs. Pryce’s inhumanity had made an unfavourable impression: but when Rose found that Jane was determined to stay, she consented to be with her, as she did not like to leave her there by herself. She sent a message by Kamira to her mother, and cautioned the Indian not to repeat what she had seen of Mrs. Pryce’s behaviour.
Kamira was attached to all the family, but more particularly to Rose; and as she never failed to obey her most trifling commands, she was pleased when the Indian promised to attend to her wishes.
The conversation, after Kamira left them, was chiefly supported by Jane and Mrs. Pryce, while Rose amused herself in playing with the children, to whom she had begged to be introduced. Had they been kept clean, and well fed, they would have been handsome and healthy; but they appeared to be (what G5 they G5v 130 they really were) neglected in their dress, cleanliness, and food. They were delighted at the novely of seeing two good- natured young strangers, as Mrs. Pryce had rarely any visitors, and were continually coming into the room, though forbidden by their mother, after they had played an hour with Miss Douglas.
Mrs. Pryce placed a stick by her side to chastise them, and when they attempted to enter, the little fat woman waddled after them in a rage, and inflicted corporal chastisement. Accustomed daily to this correction, it did not prevent them from repeating their fault; and Mrs. Pryce and her companions were constantly interrupted with scolding, crying, and squalling.
Rose interfered several times in their behalf to no purpose, as she thought it hardened them; and Jane, on the contrary, encouraged Mrs. Pryce to punish them (as it was a diversion for her), and told her she was perfectly right to keep such G6r 131 such troublesome children in proper order.
Sophia received her share of the stick, if she did not fly the moment she was called (as there was no bell at the cottage); and Miss Douglas’s head quite ached to hear Sophia! Sophia! bawled out every quarter of an hour, in addition to her screams, and the children’s cries.
About an hour before dinner, Mrs. Pryce left them to dress herself, as she styled it, which was very necessary, as she was exceedingly dirty, which they had not observed when they took shelter from the storm at her cottage, as it was nearly dark then. Her skin had the appearance of not having been washed for a long time; and her hair, naturally a pretty colour, was disguised with dirt and grease.
The eldest daughter was named Angelica; and when her mother had retired to arrange herself, Rose and Jane G6 were G6v 132 were astonished and diverted to hear Mrs. Pryce exclaim, in a voice of thunder— Sophia! Sophia! bring me my rouge-pot.
Sophia could not find it; and after striking her two or three blows, Mrs. Pryce again thundered forth—Angelica! Angelica! where is my rouge- pot? You ought to know, Angelica, where my rouge-pot is.
The child answered—Indeed, dear mamma, I do not know where it is, but I will look, dear mamma.
Angelica and the rest of these children were all taught to say dear mamma, at every word, which sounded quite absurd, and was an affectation of affection.
After the tumult had subsided, and she had gained the object of her wishes, Mrs. Pryce appeared with a clean face and hands, that had been long unwashed till now, and the lost rouge-pot in one G7r 133 one hand. She began applying its contents before them, to her cheeks, chin, and even to her nose, which gave her a very ruddy appearance, and would have deceived any one, so natural did this bloom appear.
How much it resembles nature! exclaimed Rose, unthinkingly.
You think so, do you?—does it not? I suppose you put on yours in the same manner? But you have rather too much carmine on your cheeks.
Rose blushed, and said she never wore any.
Come, don’t be so sly. How artful you are! I won’t believe such nonsense. Every body wears it, even men.
Miss Douglas did not think it worth while to answer this ridiculous and unfounded assertion; and Sophia came in that moment to announce that the dinner was ready to be served up.
Mrs. Pryce withdrew to superintend it, and they heard her in the kitchen loudly G7v 134 loudly vociferating, and abusing Sophia because there was not a clean tablecloth for dinner.
Sophia excused herself by saying— You know, ma’am, we have but one tablecloth, and that is soiled.
Begone then, wretch, and bring me a clean sheet—that will do.
At hearing this, Rose and Jane could with difficulty restrain themselves from laughing when she returned.
The sheet was brought in, and an excellent and expensive dinner placed on it, with a great deal of wine and ale. The poor children were allowed to be present, and eagerly looked at them when they were eating, but were not suffered to taste any of the good things, which made Rose quite unhappy; and she petitioned for them to have at least some of the tart or pudding. But the hard-hearted greedy Mrs. Pryce refused, while she feasted and eagerly devoured the best on the table.When G8r 135
When they had dined, the children were sent into the kitchen with Sophia, to a meal of potatoes and fat, mixed together, which their mother said was better for their health than any other nourishment.
After dinner, Mrs. Pryce, who had drank a great deal of ale and wine, threw herself on the sofa, where she fell fast asleep, and snored loudly.
The black girl went up stairs to arrange the bed-rooms; and the children having no one to take care of or reprimand them, ran into the garden, and amused themselves with doing a great deal of mischief.
Rose entertained herself with a book, and Jane in playing with a little pugdog, that knew a variety of tricks.
When Mrs. Pryce awoke from her slumbers, she instantly began calling in a harsh voice for Sophia.—Sophia! Sophia! resounded through the cottage;tage; G8v 136 tage; but no Sophia answered to her call.
The sisters assisted Mrs. Pryce in searching all over her little habitation for the unfortunate black girl, and at length discovered her stretched fast asleep on one of the children’s beds, overcome with fatigue and ill-usage. She was going to make the bed, when she sunk on it exhausted.
Oh, the black lazy monster! exclaimed Mrs. Pryce, giving her at the same time several severe boxes on the ear, which at length roused the poor creature.
Don’t beat me, mistress! she cried out, in a piteous tone: you keep me up all night, which makes me sleep in the day.
It is excusable then your sleeping now, observed Rose, hoping to soften Mrs. Pryce in her favour.
You stupid sleepy-headed beast! how dare G9r 137 dare you tell such a falsity? I never sit up later than three in the morning, and get up again at six. Too much sleep is not good for any one.
I should not like then to be your constant companion, rejoined Rose, for I do not wish to be up later than eleven, unless it is at a ball, or with very agreeable company.
Hours were made for slaves, ejaculated Mrs. Pryce, in an elevated voice; I am for the feast of reason and the flow of soul, which cannot be enjoyed except late at night. But where are my children, thou female Mungo? Grin now, and shew your white teeth.—Has she not got fine teeth, and fine eyes? And as she pronounced these words, Mrs. Pryce smiled, and seemed in a moment to have recovered her good-humour, which made Rose think she was deranged, as such inconsistency appeared like it.
The children being summoned by Sophiaphia, G9v 138 phia, appeared with their faces covered with dirt, and their frocks torn in many places: but their mother was now seized with a fit of such good-nature, that she did not attend to their tattered appearance, which would have produced, at any other time, a severe chastisement with the stick.
Tea was now introduced; and while they were partaking of it, the youngest child, about two years and a half old, who could hardly speak, ran into the parlour, screaming—Grueller, grueller!
What does he mean? asked Jane.
He wishes for the gruel Sophia is making for his and his brother and sisters’ supper, replied Mrs. Pryce. Sophia, bring the gruel.
At this well-known summons, the black girl enters with a large pot of thick gruel, but the most dirty ill-made mess they had ever seen. Poor little Tommy was so hungry that he cried and stamped for it as if it had been the most G10r 139 most savoury food, and continued calling out Grueller! till a bason full was given to him; and he was then ready to cry for joy. They all seemed glad of their supper, as well as little Tommy, having had but a scanty meal of potatoes and fat.
Rose was quite relieved when they began their walk to return home, and expressed her dislike of Mrs. Pryce’s conduct and disposition to her sister, observing, that the only excuse she could make for her was, that she must be mad. If she was not, she really was afraid she was a very wicked woman, from her cruel treatment of Sophia, and severity and injustice to her children.—I do not think, continued Miss Douglas, that our parents will approve of any intimacy with a person who is so unfeeling as a mother and mistress, and conducts herself in a manner truly improper and vulgar.
With all her faults, answered Jane, "she G10v 140 she amuses me extremely; and I never will forgive you, if you describe what has passed to my father and mother, as it will be a great entertainment to me to go there now and then. She has seen so much of the world, it is an amusement to converse with her; and we have no occasion to adopt Mrs. Pryce’s errors, if we associate with her.
You forget, Jane, that my mother has always told us, that we insensibly acquire the manners of low people if we are intimate with them.
What a methodist you are, Rose, preaching so finely! Mrs. Pryce says you seem very particular: I am sure you are not her favourite.
Nor do I wish to be; I should never feel flattered by the regard of a woman who is so careless of the health and morals of her own children.
It is no concern of ours; and I suppose she has a right to manage her boys and girls as she pleases: I am sure they G11r 141 they deserve to be beat still more, such rude tiresome brats! It is so dull when lord and lady Morrington are not at the Castle, that there is nothing to divert one; and if you are the cause of our not visiting her, I will be revenged, and do something to disoblige you.
It is not that I fear your revenge that I shall this time comply with your request, but because I am unwilling, though you are so unkind, to deprive you of any pleasure. Recollect, however, that it is on condition you are not too familiar with her, as I feel assured she is unamiable; and if her grossness and inhumanity disclose itself more, I shall certainly not conceal my sentiments of her from my father and mother; for I really think, if not inclined to insanity, she is very wicked.
Jane’s good-humour was restored at this promise, and she was very cheerful during the remainder of their walk, and did not say any thing satirical.Mrs. G11v 142
Mrs. Douglas disapproved their remaining all day with Mrs. Pryce, unless she had previously known it, and desired them never again to act in this manner without her permision, as Mrs. Pryce was a stranger, and though she had made inquiries, she could not learn the least intelligence of her or any of her connexions.—We are not rich, continued Mrs. Douglas, and it is therefore of more consequence that we should be correct in our conduct, and in the choice of our acquaintance. The generality of people are not indulgent to the foibles of those who are not wealthy, though they will view in a favourable light the follies of the rich. You shall take every opportunity of evincing gratitude to Mrs. Pryce for her attention during the storm, but I will not allow any farther intimacy till I know who she is, and that your characters will not be injured by visiting her.
At this moment the general entered. —"I G12r 143 —I think you have been reading a lecture to the girls, said he, with a smile; they both look very serious. Have you told them the good news, that their favourite, good-natured captain Burton, is coming down in a few days with a friend, to visit us for the shooting season?
We are very glad indeed, they both exclaimed; for I shall never forget, said Rose, how kind he was on our passage from America, and did all in his power to entertain us.
I wish lord Morrington’s family were coming down too, added Jane, and then we should be quite gay.
You have your wish, my love, replied Mrs. Douglas; that is another agreeable piece of intelligence that I wished to surprise you with.
Rose and Jane were delighted to hear this—the former because she was impatient to see Louise de Rimont, with whom she corresponded; and the latter on G12v 144 on account of the gaiety that would take place. Rose was astonished that she had not in her last letter given any hopes of so early a visit to the Castle, and concluded it was her intention to make the pleasure greater, by its being unexpected.
On the day that captain Burton and his friend were expected, Mr. Jerry and Miss Polly Wizzle dined at Treharne, with two gentlemen who had been six weeks on a visit at the doctor’s, and were engaged a week before to dine at the general’s. One of the gentlemen was named Eustace, and a lieutenant in the militia. He had been quartered three years since at Fairfield, and became acquainted with the Wizzles, who had given him a general invitation to their house, to stay as long as he pleased, whenever it suited his inclinations.
This was in consequence of his gallantry to Miss Wizzle, with whom he had danced at the monthly Fairfield assembly, H1r 145 assembly, which was an excellent one, and attended in the winter by many fashionable and respectable people from Exeter and the surrounding country.
The other visitor was an old physician, a doctor Owen, extremely eccentric, who had landed at Torbay, from France, where he had been confined as a prisoner ten years, and when he returned to England, had a letter of recommendation to the Wizzle family.
He visited France on a party of pleasure, and having offended a malicious Frenchman, he secretly informed the government that doctor Owen was an English spy, and laid his plans so well, that the unlucky physician was made a prisoner, and many years detained before his innocence was known. He wrote poetry, though in a very inferior style, and got released by writing verses constantly to the minister of war, which attracted his attention from their being Vol. I. H absurd, H1v 146 absurd, and ultimately procured his liberty. He had been to the East Indies in the early period of his life, and travelled over the greater part of Europe, besides residing many years in France; therefore the general and his lady expected to receive a great deal of information and entertainment from him, as he was near seventy, and a man of education.
But he woefully disappointed their expectations. He could speak neither French nor English well, his discourse being a mixture of both; and his conversation, if ladies were present, interlarded with bombast and fine-sounding ridiculous compliments. When he was introduced to Mrs. Douglas and her daughters, he exclaimed—Here is a Juno! bowing to Mrs. Douglas; and a Venus and Hebe! addressing the young ladies—Angels! angels all!
Mr. Jerry Wizzle had acquainted Rose and H2r 147 and Jane with this part of his character, or they would have been quite astonished at this singular address.
Doctor Owen wore a French wig, exceedingly well made; and so natural was its appearance, that they did not suppose it was a peruke, till, in bowing profoundly and awkwardly, it fell from his head, leaving it quite bare. He was very much confused; and as he took it up and adjusted it, laid all the fault on the wig—They make the wigs so badly in France, he observed, in an angry voice, that one cannot keep them fast on one’s head. I am very sorry indeed for this accident; I beg you ten thousand pardons, ladies.
It was with great difficulty they could compose their countenances at this speech; and it had such an effect on the risible muscles of Mr. Eustace, that he could not restrain his laughter, and he excused himself to the doctor, pretending that it was at something else he H2 laughed H2v 148 laughed. Doctor Owen’s dress was as ridiculous as his manners, and he wore a large red linen waistcoat, with flaps. When they had seen him before, he was dressed in a handsome suit of black, which made him appear, as he had been good-looking in his youth, most respectable; but he was as whimsical in his dress as in every thing, and often varied it.
Mr. Eustace was between thirty and forty years of age. He had been an attorney, but from extravagance and extreme dissipation, had incurred debts to a large amount. When nearly ruined, he accepted a lieutenant’s commission in the militia, which was not a school to improve a vitiated mind. His figure was about the middle height, nothing remarkable; but his face, at the period of his introduction to the general and Mrs. Douglas, was very handsome. It exactly resembled a portrait (from which engravings have been made) of the earl of H3r 149 of Essex, queen Elizabeth’s favourite. His eyes were beautifully expressive—a rich dark hazel; his eyebrows finely pencilled, his nose perfectly formed, his forehead high and broad, like the earl’s picture, but his chin too long. What was very singular, his disposition, in many points, as well as his features, resembled that unfortunate nobleman’s; he was very passionate and impetuous, grossly insolent if offended in the most trifling degree: but he had not the good qualities that likewise distinguished the earl of Essex. If his wishes were not instantly complied with by those of whom he did not stand in awe, he would cruelly insult and mortify the objects of his displeasure. In company with the general, Mrs. Douglas, or any person of the first respectability, that he dared not presume to affront with impunity, he was reserved and formal; but with young people, and those he was very intimate with and under no restraint, and whom, if he offended,H3 fended, H3v 150 fended, could not injure his interest, he was boisterous, rude, and even descended, when his spirits were high, to be insolently vulgar. Yet he did not disclose his character to people he respected till he had known them a long time. Since his visit to Fairfield, he had frequently attended Miss Douglas and her sister when they walked out, accompanied by Mr. Jerry Wizzle, who, notwithstanding his formality and eccentricities, was much esteemed by the general and all his family, as he was a good, friendly, learned, and accomplished man. He drew and painted in a very pleasing style, and his little sitting-room (in which he received his visitors separate from his parents and sisters) was ornamented with his performances, and many pretty curiosities, beautiful shells, and fossils.
With infinite art, Mr. Eustace studied, from his first introduction, to please Rose Douglas. Few men, if the least handsome, H4r 151 handsome, fail to fascinate, if they exert themselves, and have attractive manners; and as he assumed a captivating address, and was animated and sensible, he had the satisfaction of perceiving she thought him very agreeable.
Having secured, he imagined, a warm interest in her artless bosom, he ventured by degrees to unfold the disgusting side of his disposition: but his vanity was miserably deceived, though he had a great share of conceit, in supposing she was so infatuated as to be blindly indulgent to his faults. One instance she witnessed of his violence and unfeeling heart made her form the resolution to suppress any affections she was inclined to feel. This resolution was strengthened by a conversation she had with Mr. Jerry Wizzle.
The worthy Jerry, perceiving that Mr. Eustace was prodigal of his attentions to Miss Douglas, thought it right to inform her, that he had lately discovered he H4 was H4v 152 was the most unprincipled of men, and was entangled already with a woman, by whom he had two children. To all females, unless they had a large fortune, his intentions were dishonourable, however much he might admire their persons. Jerry observed, that he was very sorry he had introduced him at Treharne; but he trusted, as his stay at Fairfield would now be very short, the affair might be of little consequence. Jerry also added, that he confided in her understanding, of which he had a high opinion, to banish such a character from her mind, relying at the same time on her prudence not to mention what he had discovered of his disposition to the general; he would undoubtedly be indignant and irritated at his presumption in daring to make love to his daughter without honourable designs, which the more astonished Jerry, as he understood all those he had hiterto addressed were of the most low and vulgar description.In H5r 153
In the evening, Rose and her sister, attended by Mr. Eustace and Jerry Wizzle, walked in the garden, which was an enchanting spot, though the trees and shrubs wore an autumnal appearance. Doctor Owen and Miss Polly Wizzle remained in the drawing-room, with the other part of the company, and the doctor appeared quite enraptured with their mother. Miss Douglas conversed chiefly with JeryJerry, to avoid as much as possible any familiar discourse with Eustace, who generally contrived to lead her at a distance from the rest of the party. This he observed, and was enraged at the discovery, which made him display his natural insolence. The subject of love being introduced purposely by Mr. Jerry Wizzle, Mr. Eustace exclaimed, with great acrimony, that he would never marry any woman without a large fortune; it was very well for boys and girls to act so foolishly, but no female H5 could H5v 154 could tempt him to commit that folly— Fortune was his idol.
I am very glad you are not in love with me, said Rose laughing; it would be a shocking thing, as I have no money, and am of a very different opinion. Whenever I marry, I should wish to marry for love.
Nonsense! nonsense! replied Eustace, quite in a passion that she should talk so calmly on the subject, and dissent from him in her sentiments.
Jane and Mr. Wizzle were as much diverted as Rose at his unreasonable warmth in being displeased at her not agreeing with him in what he had advanced, as every person has a right to judge for themselves. Conscious of his improper schemes, he vulgarly understood as meant for himself what was only a general topic of conversation, and, unable to command his passions, left them soon after, with a sullen aspect, concealing H6r 155 concealing smothered rage, and returned to Fairfield, without wishing the general or any of the company good-night.
Miss Polly Wizzle, who was quite enamoured of this gentle swain, joined them soon after in the garden, and eagerly inquired what was become of Eustace?
He is gone home quite dumpish, returned Jerry, or else in dismal dudgeon: perhaps he is ill.
Oh, dear me! I am quite concerned at the supposition. I flattered myself we should hear him sing this evening some of his merry songs, to please the young ladies, who are quite delighted I know with his singing, for he sings comic songs with success, and scientifically too.
And well he may, sister, as he has had an opportunity of improving his voice, by being brought up as a chorister, and used to sing from a boy at some cathedral.
That is no discredit to him, brother H6 Jerry; H6v 156 Jerry; he is a gentleman’s son—a lawyer, which is always a gentleman.
I admire his singing amazingly, said Rose; and if I may be allowed to give my opinion, I think, if he had not naturally a good voice, his learning to sing would not be attended with so much advantage as it has been, for I not only admire his comic songs, but those of a more serious cast.
You are always so indulgent to every one, Miss Douglas, that I quite admire you, replied Jerry; I wish Eustace resembled you, for he is too apt to speak ill of all his acquaintance, and to cherish foul-mouthed slander.
That is only his lively way, brother; his spirits get the better of his reason.
Has he any reason, sister?
I am sure he is very good-natured, and laughs and talks with all the servants as if they were his equals—not a grain of pride.
Ha! Ha! rejoined Jerry: too much familiarity H7r 157 familiarity breeds contempt: and have you forgot that he assumes this freedom with the domestics to get jobs done for him gratis, which he has acknowledged, and says that a laugh and a good- natured word is all that he pays people with? You really are very amiable to return good for evil, when you must recollect he boasted of the present you sent him, with these words, Though little, accept it—Mariana. What think you of my sister’s improvement on simple Mary?
It was because he was pleased with my gift that he mentioned it, brother: you put such ill-natured constructions on all that passes, just like a peevish old bachelor.
Miss Polly seemed so angry, that Rose, to divert the subject, led them to a small hermitage she had constructed of willows, twisted, and covered with the bark of trees and moss, and thatched with straw. In this undertaking she was H7v 158 was assisted a little by Jane, and a great deal by Kamira. It was situated in a retired part of the grounds, and surrounded with beech, oak, ash, and sycamore trees, that afforded a cool shade, even when the sun shone most fervidly.
I am happy you find amusement in this employment, observed Jerry; you who deserve to have that entertainment returned to you, which you so often bestow on others. But, with your delicate form, you must find your manual labours fatiguing, though it is delightful to sit under the shade of bowers erected by yourself, and smell the perfume of flowers reared by your own hands, as I suppose those last offerings of the year, now blooming, were planted by you. Every sense in this innocent recreation is gratified, even that of vain superiority, the most predominant passion in human kind.
Begging Miss Douglas’s pardon, I think gardening and rural amusements, brother, a very dirty occupation for a lady, H8r 159 lady, and gives a coarse ruddiness to the skin, and spoils the hand, at the same time displaying a little sallow hand, which she fancied white because it was colourless. You see how white and soft my hand is; it would not be so if I worked in a garden—therefore don’t be persuaded by Jerry to continue this occupation; it makes your face red, and look like the full moon.
Jerry was going to answer his sister, when his attention, as well as his companion’s, was attracted by the sound of a postchaise, which was so unusual there, that they all ascended a mount, which afforded them an excellent view of approaching objects. The sisters guessed that it contained their expected visitors; nor were they disappointed, as the postchaise stopped opposite the Hall, and two gentlemen alighted.
Two single gentlemen are they, did you not say, Miss Douglas? cried Miss Wizzle: a very great acquisition in the H8v 160 the country. I hope they will remain long enough to visit our assembly, for single gentlemen are much wanted, and there is often a scarcity of partners, and it is so awkward to see two ladies stand up together—worse than sitting forlorn without a partner.
Rose replied, she did not know exactly how long they would remain at Treharne, but did not doubt her father and mother would introduce them at the assembly, if they did not leave Devonshire before it opened.
Miss Wizzle appeared quite pleased with this speech, and they all sauntered a quarter of an hour longer in the garden, till the bustle of their visitors’ reception and the usual compliments were over.
They returned to the drawing-room, where, according to their expectations, captain Burton and captain William Courtenay were engaged with the general and Mrs. Douglas in conversation.Captain H9r 161
Captain Burton flew to meet them, and expressed his joy at beholding his young friends after so long an absence; adding, he was rejoiced to see them much improved in their appearance, and so considerably grown, that he should with difficulty have recognized them in any other place.
The generous sailor now produced a number of little elegant presents for the young ladies, and for every individual of the family, even for Kamira, saying he had not forgot the pretty Esquimaux.
He was exactly the character described frequently as a sailor—kind-hearted, frank, unsuspicious, and generous; indeed he possessed too much of the latter quality, and was often distressed from his extreme liberality. The noble, liberal feelings of his nature, which, from the beginning of his entrance into life, were always too strong, led him often into difficulties, and were acted on by the artful and designing.Captain H9v 162
Captain Burton placed himself between the two sisters, and informed them he was just come from Liverpool with his friend Courtenay; and Jane asked him if it was a pleasant town?
It is a large populous place, he replied, with some regular streets; but what it is most famous for are the docks, that are allowed to be the finest of the kind in England, and I believe may vie with any in the world for completeness. The number of ships constantly there look like a grove of trees. Formerly the town sent out yearly some hundred Guinea men, uncommonly handsome ships, and fitted up in the neatest style imaginable. Most of them carried guns, and being fast-sailing vessels, often took prizes. The merchants at Liverpool have a custom of knowing when their ships are coming, at least for those ships they are anxious about. Upon a high hill, by the sea-side, every merchant has his own particular pole. H10r 163 pole. When a ship appears in sight, the flag of the merchant to whom the ship belong, is hoisted, and the merchant knows his flag, and that his ship is coming.
Here captain Courtenay, whom Rose and Jane had scarcely noticed, from being warmly interested in looking at and listening to their favourite captain Burton, joined in the conversation, and said —You have neglected to mention the most material point in your account of Liverpool, which is, that the female inhabitants of the town are remarkably handsome: but I will allow for your forgetfulness, as the present beauties have made you forget the absent ones. The theatre is small and neat, though only one actor and actress were good; the rest execrable. We went likewise to see a famous Irish giant—a man well worth seeing by the curious, who picked up a great deal of money, as seamen of all descriptions are fond of sights. Burtonton, H10v 164 ton, who is six feet high, could just reach his shoulder with his hand; therefore you may suppose what a pigmy such a little fellow as I must appear by the side of him.
You did really, rejoined Burton— quite a Tom Thumb. But I must finish my description of Liverpool, as Miss Douglas and her sister have not seen it. The mount we likewise visited, as you have an uncommon fine view from it of all the adjacent country, which is rather flat. The quarry is exceedingly long and deep, and a great deal of stone is taken out of it, which is of a useful kind. To conclude, this town swarms with people, who do not care a curse for any one, and the common sailors are very insulting.
Doctor Owen approached at this momoment— Do you remember what the song says, Miss Douglas— Where, little wanton, wouldst thou be, Half so happy as with me? "This H11r 165 This might Miss Douglas say—who else ought to say as much? You angel, whose abilities in all respects are superlative, and demand acquiescence to all you say, think, or do, on any subject or occasion. This is not for me to doubt, any more that I should own, beyond all dispute, that you are the most charming of your sex. Your sister is a goddess, and your mother and both of you the three Graces. Where shall we meet with your equal for beauty and every accomplishment?
You have been describing Liverpool, gentlemen, said Mr. Jerry Wizzle, to silence his nonsense. I have been there, and find your description very correct. After leaving Liverpool, I travelled for my amusement to several other places, and first proceeded to Chester.
The country from Liverpool to Chester is fine, observed captain Courtenay; and the girls at Chester are lovely creacreatures;creatures; H11v 166 creatures; but the magistrates are very strict—it is difficult to ogle them.
The ladies seem the principal object of attraction to you, captain, replied Jerry. But do you not think the town a pleasant one, though very antique? I admire the wall that surrounds it, which is in excellent preservation, as the chief inhabitants lay a fine on goods exported to repair the walls, which are intersected with small round towers. At the bottom of the walls is a canal, cut through the rock, and the ramparts are a famous mall for the people to walk on Sunday; and you can see the raceground, which is a very good one, from the walls of the town. Another curiosity worthy observation here are the galleries that continue from each house to the next, so that in wet weather you can walk under cover from one habitation to another.
How convenient and agreeable that must be! said Jane Douglas; do tell us H12r 167 us more of your journey, Mr. Wizzle. Where did you go next?
To Namptwich, Miss Jane, which is a small dirty town, with nothing remarkable in it, except the earl of Huntingdon’s monument, that, I understood, was erected by his wife; and from thence we repaired to Newcastle, where myself and my party arrived at a very bad inn, and could hardly get any thing to eat, the people were so remarkably uncivil. About a mile from the town is the manufactory of the famous Wedgewood ware. We saw all the process, which is wonderful.
Did you visit Uttoxeter afterwards? inquired Courtenay; for there is an excellent inn at that pleasant little town, and a very pretty chambermaid, who engages the heart of every one. A set of jolly farmers dined at the inn the last time I visited it, and insisted on coming up to us, which was highly diverting.
Always a female in the case whereeverever H12v 168 ever you go, captain Courtenay. I liked the town very much, though I was not so fortunate as you in seeing the pretty chambermaid. We then proceeded to Ashby de la Zouch, a good-sized town; and then went forward to Leicester, a large irregular-built place, where you would not have been pleased, captain, as the females are plain, and most of the people methodists. Cardinal Wolsey was buried in Leicester Abbey, which is not striking, after having seen the cathedral at Exeter. There our travels ended, and we returned home, quite pleased with our excursion.
The young ladies thanked Mr. Wizzle for this concise account of his tour from Liverpool to Leicester, and a desultory conversation took place, till a cold collation was ready, prepared at an early hour to refresh the travellers. Dr. Owen, Mr. Jerry, and his sister, staid to partake of it, and soon after Rose attended Miss Wizzle to her dressing-room, to I1r 169 to put on her bonnet, and borrow Miss Douglas’s wrapping-cloak, as the night was cold, and Miss Wizzle too thinly clad for her age.
Here she warmly expressed her approbation of the two naval officers. Captain Burton she thought a most goodnatured animated young man, who seemed to carry his heart in his hand. His friend Courtenay she likewise thought very agreeable, and more refined in his manners, only rather too affected and coxcombical.—I understand, continued Miss Polly, he is a post-captain, and Burton only a commander, as he is much younger, and appears only five or six-and-twenty, while Courtenay, I think, is on the wrong side of thirty; but his lively gay manners, and his being a little fellow, make him appear younger. My brother tells me he has heard a great deal about him; that he is quite a man of fashion, and related to a noble Irish family, which causes him to Vol. I. I mix I1v 170 mix with some of the best society in London. You see, Miss Douglas, what an advantage men have over women: my brother goes about, and sees a great deal of the world, while I am buried alive in a dull country village.
I am quite a stranger, Rose replied, to captain Courtenay, and ignorant of his family or acquaintance, merely knowing him as captain Burton’s friend, who, I doubt not, would never introduce any one to my father who did not merit respect.
Miss Wizzle now took leave, attended by doctor Owen and her brother, and they all separated for the night an hour afterwards, as the travellers were tired, having had a fatiguing journey.Chap- I2r 171
On the Tuesday following, lord Morrington and his lady arrived at the Castle. Captain Courtenay was acquainted with them, and a particular favourite of her ladyship’s. His lordship had made him promise, that whenever he came into Devonshire, he would visit them; and it was his intention, after captain I2 Burton I2v 172 Burton left Treharne, to pass some weeks at Morrington Castle.
Captain Courtenay, from being a very little man, did not attract the eye at the first blush. The impression he in general caused was, that he was quite a foppish character, which did not appear consistent with the idea usually entertained of those of his profession, who are expected to be frank, unfashionable, and unpolished, but generous, good-natured, and unaffected, and as rough and difficult to govern as the faithless and inconstant element they plough.
But severely did Courtenay revenge himself on those females who, unacquainted with his fascinating powers, neglected and contemned him. His dark hair waved in luxuriant natural ringlets round a countenance apparently beaming with animation and good-humour. Courtenay’s large blue eyes, adorned with thick long black eyelashes, were the most expressive that could be seen, I3r 173 seen, and delineated the most winning tenderness, or portrayed laughing vivacity, and depicted other emotions less pleasing most forcibly. His understanding was excellent, but the violence of his passions often eclipsed his good sense; and his unbounded love for the fair sex, which was carried to a dangerous extreme, frequently plunged him in disgrace.
Innumerable (when in London) were the affairs of gallantry in which he was engaged, and many innocent victims had fallen the prey of his irregular desires; he was the destroyer of their peace, their purity, their reputation, and, eventually, sometimes of their life. Yet he continued the same pursuits without remorse; for what is so cold, so unfeeling as a libertine’s heart, who views without feeling, and even with indifference, the ruin he has made? Warm is the ice of Greenland, the snow of Lapland, to the mind of a licentious wordly man.I3 Yet I3v 174
Yet he had not quite escaped the punishment his vices merited, for his fortune was impoverished, and the only chance he had now left of retrieving it was by marrying some woman of extensive property, which was, at this period, the sole object of his wishes. Yet his eye still dwelt on the form of beauty with rapture, and glanced, with a wish to destroy, on the artless lovely face. He little heeded if the woman he was to marry could secure his attachment, as money would procure him, at any time, a beautiful mistress. He would have given the preference to a pretty wife, but in the search for riches, paid his court alike to the young, the handsome, the ugly, and the old, Plutus being the only god he worshipped.
Captivating as he was, he had frequently been refused, by many women to whom he aspired, either from the parents being prejudiced against him, from the report of his universal gallantry and broken I4r 175 broken fortune; or from want of inclination in the ladies, who were not sufficiently intimate to be captivated by his address. However, he had too flattering an opinion of himself to be discouraged, and determined to persevere till success had crowned his designs.
Burton had assisted him with a great deal of money, as he was a stranger to the dark side of his character, and thought him the best and most honest fellow that ever existed. Courtenay therefore judged it an excellent plan to accompany him into Devonshire, where his character as an Irish fortunehunter was not known, and being a new scene of action, he might obtain the hand of some rich, and perhaps lovely girl. But if she was wealthy, that was sufficient, as he proposed to likewise amuse himself in making dishonourable love to the cottagers, and pretty daughters of the farmers.
In addition to Courtenay’s other attractions, his voice was melodious, and I4 he I4v 176 he sung with taste and judgment. It was to be regretted that he, who could make himself so pleasing and agreeable, was an enemy to virtue.
How different from Burton, who, without the refinement of his friend, had every excellence that could dignify the human heart! The most disinterested generosity influenced his conduct, which would have done honour to a prince. A friend having asked him to be godfather to his infant child, the liberal Burton complied with his request, making his godson, at the time he stood sponsor for him, a present of a handsome sum of money, which would amount to a pretty fortune when the infant became of age; and when he performed this generous action, he was himself not more than twenty. He had been fortunate in taking prizes, which enabled him to indulge his noble liberality. But his manners were boisterous as the waves he traversed, and from being accustomeded I5r 177 ed to swear on board ship, he could not conquer this habit.
Burton had brought the general several dozen of remarkable fine champaigne, which was a rarity then, and very dear. Neither Jane or Rose had ever tasted it, and with their mother’s permission, having poured out a glass for each, he observed they were not in haste to drink it, and wishing they should, to heighten its flavour and enhance its value, he called out—D―n you, drink it off directly! d―n you, drink it off! which they all laughed at and excused, as he was accustomed to this language with his sailors. They were all attached to him, and would fight till they expired, while he commanded the vessel.
Lady Morrington had been a week at the Castle, and morning visits had been mutually exchanged between the inhabitants of Morrington and Treharne. Her ladyship was particularly delighted at seeing Courtenay, as a sort of flirtation I5 had I5v 178 had passed between them, that would not prevent her aiding his views in obtaining a damsel of fortune.
Shortly after her arrival, captain Courtenay received an invitation for himself and his friend to accompany general Douglas and his family to a fancy-ball, which was to take place at the Castle in a few days. Everybody invited were to appear dressed in some character, in a domino, or fancy-dress, and to support the character they assumed, but without masks, which was quite a novelty in the country, and promised much amusement.
Rose and Jane were elated at the prospect of such an entertainment, and the night before the ball, were so engaged in talking of their dress, and the expected pleasure, after they retired to their chamber, that it was one o’clock before they attempted to compose themselves to rest. An entertainment of this description was quite new, and caused them an agreeable agitation, as they were fearful they might I6r 179 might not have courage to sustain the characters well that they had chosen. The notice was so short, that it required some dress easily procured and arranged; Rose had therefore fixed on Kamira’s Esquimaux habits, and Jane had settled to appear as a country-girl, with a basket of eggs to sell.
At length they fell asleep, but had not slumbered more than an hour, when they waked in alarm at hearing a loud rumbling noise on the staircase, as if something heavy had been rolled down, which was succeeded by a piercing shriek. They both sat up in bed to listen, and Rose asked who was there? No answer was returned, and at that moment their faithful Ponto howled piteously under the window. Footsteps ascending and descending were now heard, and busy whisperings; and soon after, the heavy tread of persons in the room above distinctly followed. Rose wished to open the door, and see what it was, but Jane said she should die with terror, if she did.I6 It I6v 180
It was a very dark night, and the rushlight, which they always burnt when the moon did not enlighten the sky, gave a sudden flash, and was extinguished. At this critical instant, when melancholy darkness reigned, and their minds were impressed with horrible images, somebody pushed violently against the door, as if to burst it open, and turned the handle with force several times; but it resisted their efforts, being bolted as well as locked. Jane, after the first alarm, was so frightened, that she had crept to her sister’s bed, and they both remained together, trembling and saying their prayers, till the person at the door retreated from it, and heavily walked down the stairs. Soon after the other noises ceased, and all was quiet again; but so uneasy did they feel, that they could not close their eyes till morning, through tranquillity reigned undisturbed throughout the mansion.
Kamira, finding they were unusually late, I7r 181 late, came and knocked loudly at the door, telling them that breakfast was nearly over in the parlour. Rose opened the door, and Jane exclaimed—Oh, Kamira! you would have overslept yourself, had you been frightened as we have been. We have heard the most dreadful voices and noises! Somebody wanted to force themselves into our room, and poor Ponto, as if he knew we were in danger, howled dismally.
Dolly and me have heard the same sounds, and worse, for we heard two men walking in our room, and shook the curtains of our bed. If I had got a light I would have fought them with my great knife; but it was no use, as I could not see who to strike. Kamira got the brave heart of an Esquimaux still; she fight for her dear ladies. But Robin heard big noise too, but say it no good me fight ghosts: but perhaps they no ghost, but robbers come to take general’s money. I say so Robin, but Robin I7v 182 Robin shake his head, and say it is, it is, because somebody no rest in their graves, because your mamma not have her right.
I think, replied Rose, it is nothing wonderful, though we cannot explain or account for it. Probably our visitors walk in their sleep, or Dolly and Robin may, and not know it. Robin may easily fancy these extraordinary things, having been accustomed to hear all his life surprising stories of ghosts, witches, and fairies, who are said to appear on every occasion in this country.
But me believe what Robin say—a good old man; he tell me, when the land and timber belonging to this great house sold, him daughter and him wife, then alive, heard people running up and down stairs while it was being cut down and selling, and that he sure it is no living people now running about the house at night. He afraid of some trouble to the family, as the wraiths, ghosts, and evil spirits, seem I8r 183 seem to be all in motion, and that your wicked uncle deals with the devil. Kamira would not be so rude to say this of your relation, did she not think you ought to know all what Robin tells me.
This account made Rose and her sister smile.—It could not be ghosts who were thus agitated at the trees being cut down, observed the former; it must be the hamadryades and dryades, distracted at their favourite trees being felled; I cannot be otherwise than diverted at the idea. But really, Kamira, you must not believe all that Robin, though the best creature living, tells you; his mind is weak, and his imagination easily worked up to believe in supernatural appearances. He has lived so much alone in this old mansion, since the death of his wife, as Dolly was often with her aunt, that he is apt to fancy whatever is horrible and superstitous: nor does it surprise me, for this place must have been gloomy and solitary indeed before we I8v 184 we came to enliven it; and when he heard any noise, he fancied there were people walking about the house.
It is lucky, said Jane, that captain Burton and his friend, if they are not sleep-walkers, have apartments in the northern tower, or they would have been alarmed, and unpleasantly disturbed, with the sounds that molested us.
Oh, they feel no fright, they no disturbed, replied Kamira, laughing, and shewing her ivory teeth; they brave men, they not fear ghosts, or thieves; they fight for their country, no cowards.
I rejoice to hear it, exclaimed Jane, for I should be sorry if they met with any thing disgusting, as they are so agreeable; we should lose a great deal of pleasure in losing their society.
Tell Robin, added Rose, to keep a loaded gun and one of my father’s swords in his room.
And I take my bow and arrows, my tomahawk, and great knife, to wound I9r 185 wound the robbers; and as Kamira spoke these words, all the fire of former days brightened in her fine black eyes.
Warn Robin, likewise, continued Miss Douglas, not to mention what has passed to my father and mother, as I do not like them to be made uneasy if I can avoid it; and do you, Kamira, be cautious what you say.
Never fear me. Esquimaux had a good education; her mother taught her to know when to be silent, to bear pain without complaining, to be good to the stranger and traveller, and not to speak till others have finished what they have got to say.
I know all your good qualities, and value them, and have often thought that the true politeness, real hospitality, and many virtues of the American Indian, ought to cause the European, with all his advantages, to bow before the untutored savage, as they are usually styled.A postchaise I9v 186
A postchaise was hired to convey Mrs. Douglas and her daughters in the evening to the Castle, and the general and his visitors went on horseback, as they were to dress at lord Morrington’s. Captain Courtenay was dressed as a Highlander, and Burton as a countryman, in a smock-frock, which made him an excellent companion for Jane as a country-girl. Mrs. Douglas looked very handsome as a lady abbess, and the general’s figure appeared to great advantage in the costume of an Indian chief, with Rose, in Kamira’s attire, as his lovely American daughter, who managed her bow with infinite grace, having been accustomed to see the Esquimaux wield it skilfully. Lord Morrington was a waggoner, and her ladyship an Italian lady, attired in a black gown, front and sleeves red, with beads in her hair; Louise de Rimont a court lady, in a white satin petticoat, with silver vine leaves, pink and I10r 187 and silver train, with a large hoop, and feathers on her head.
The hall was beautifully lighted with a number of pretty lamps, and the suite of rooms, through which the company alternately moved, brilliantly illuminated and decorated with taste and judgment, under the direction of Louise de Rimont, whose mother frequently gave entertainments of this description in France, which calculated her to direct and superintend them, much to the satisfaction of lady Morrington and her guests.
Involuntarily was every eye fixed on the beauteous form of Rose Douglas, and scarcely could wander from her elegant shape and perfect face, to gaze on any other object, though many pretty women were present. When you looked at her lovely countenance, its glow of beauty and animation made you forget the symmetry of her polished figure; but when you gazed at it first, you admiredmired I10v 188 mired its rare perfection, where every movement awakened some new and winning grace.
Jane eclipsed every female except her sister, as by candlelight she looked inimitably fascinating, from its being a great favourer of bad complexions, for hers was exceedingly brown in the glaring light of day.
A young French nobleman, the count de Fontenai, was very assiduous in his attentions to Miss Jane Douglas, and danced with her the greater part of the evening. His countenance was very dark, but his features fine, his figure well-proportioned, about the middle height, and he danced so incomparably well, that she was congratulated on having such an excellent partner. The count’s tutor came with him, and another nobleman, the marquis de Monclair, who was likewise very attentive to Jane, and appeared to admire her even more than the count, though he did not dance so I11r 189 so often with her. He was very tall—a stout, fine-looking man, but his face was inferior in attraction to Fontenai’s.
Captain Courtenay devoted himself the principal part of the evening to lady Morrington, and only danced two dances with a young lady of immense fortune, a particular friend of her ladyship’s, whom he relied on to prejudice the heiress in his favour. When he perceived that Rose and her sister were engaged, he approached to solicit the honour of dancing with each of them, saying he was a thoughtless fellow, or he should have engaged them before, and hoped they would forgive his etourderie.
No apologies, replied Jane; we have plenty of partners; and, to speak the truth, I would rather be engaged by a stranger, for there is little novely in being asked by those we see every day.
Rose smiled, which indicated she was of her sister’s opinion.
You are more sincere than polite, Miss I11v 190 Miss Jane, said Courtenay, quite piqued, for though he did not wish to be seen publicly paying attention to portionless girls, as it might defeat his designs on others of more importance, he yet wished to be admired by them, and to be regretted, particularly by Rose, who really pleased and interested him, though she was unconscious of the impression she had made.
Rose danced with sir Henry Arundel, who was very pleasing and gentlemanly, about thirty. He was handsome and elegant, and she resigned him with regret, even to dance with her good-humoured Burton, and afterwards with captain O’Brien, an Irishman and a gambler, who was, as well as Courtenay, in pursuit of a woman with money. His person was insignificant, but his manners agreeable, with a prodigious stock of vanity. His life was exactly the reverse of what it ought to be. When in town, he generally passed whole nights at the gamingtable,table, I12r 191 table, and all day in bed, which made him colourless and thin. He usually rose at five in the afternoon, and went out directly to dinner, having breakfasted before he retired to rest.
Captain O’Brien was much vexed at having asked Rose to dance, when he found, from lord Morrington, that her beauty was all her dower, as his lordship, who knew his character, on purpose to torment him had hinted that she was wealthy. He was, consequently, at first, in very high spirits at the prospect of obtaining a beautiful girl and money too; but when lord Morrington whispered to him that it was quite the contrary, and that he was concerned he had made a mistake, his rage at being undeceived, and thus bereft of all his golden visions, was almost ungovernable, and he could with difficulty be commonly civil to his fair partner.
Her beauty will not trap me, be assured, my lord, he muttered, in a low voice; I12v 192 voice; if I must swallow the matrimonial pill again, let it be well gilt.
Rose, disgusted with his behaviour, had declined standing up any longer, and finding all the other ladies engaged, he lounged up to her, after he had expressed his disappointment to lord Morrington, determined to vent his spleen by abusing the company, as there was no one but herself to whom he could disburden his ill-natured mind at that moment, every one being employed in the sprightly dance, or in conversation.
Rose was quite depressed at seeing him again approach, as she was rejoiced at having got rid of him. He sat down by her, and, finding she did not speak, suddenly exclaimed—Do look, Miss Douglas, at that little fellow: what distorted faces he is making! he has St. Vitus’s dance. I wish he would dance some of his money of his pocket.
You must excuse me, replied Rose, with a serious air, but I do not like K1r 193 like to hear the poor man ridiculed for being so unfortunate as to be afflicted with a complaint most distressing. It is painful to have illness and personal defects made a subject of laughter.
But he deserves it; he is as rich as a Jew, and as stingy as the devil. He is a good-for-nothing old man, and as ill- tempered as he is disagreeable, and so afraid of dying, that, for fear he should take cold, he puts on all his clothes smoking hot, even in the dogdays. He never reads the newspaper, or a book, till it has been aired before the fire. His boots and his hat are placed in front of a large fire, till they are so burning hot, that they are obliged to be held out of the window to cool. He is seldom the least good-humoured, but when his linen, and every thing he wears, actually scorch him. One morning when I called at his house I found him jumping about the room without a coat, apparently in an ecstacy of delight. I asked what had happened, Vol. I. K and K1v 194 and the servant, who was standing by him, replied, that his master had put on his pantaloons so hot that they had burnt him.—I am sorry you have met with this accident, Mr. Shirley, I observed— Sorry! he rejoined; I am delighted, as I am certain now I shall not get cold. He does not mind being slightly burnt, and always smiles with good-humour at his valet, though peevish and passionate when his linen, &c. is cool, and he thinks not aired enough.
What would he do if he was married? said captain Burton, who had advanced to them, and heard the latter part of O’Brien’s observations on Mr. Shirley; I suppose he would place his wife before the fire, and not speak to her till she was thoroughly warmed.
His heart is not easily warmed— that is cold enough; and I’ll tell you a trick a friend of mine played him. He called on Shirley one very rainy day, and ran to embrace him, with his clothes quite K2r 195 quite wet, pretending he was enchanted to see him. Shirley pushed him off, screaming with agony, fearful it would give him cold to sit in the same room, much more to be so near, and affected an engagement of consequence to drive my friend away. After this adventure, he had a fit of ill-temper for several days. In addition to being very ill-natured, he is terribly afraid of thunder and lightning. Every time it thunders, he goes to bed, and has candles lighted, for his conscience is bad.
He is much to be commiserated, said Rose: with this disposition he can never be happy; no wealth can make such a man at ease. But let us turn from this disagreeable object to something more pleasing which presents itself. Look at that fine woman in the velvet gown embroidered with gold, and that handsome turban: it appears to me a Turkish dress, and very appropriate for that character. What a sweet K2 expression K2v 196 expression in her countenance! Was ever any hand and arm so finely formed? as the sleeve falls back you discover it. How I should like to be introduced to her! I am convinced I should be attached to her.
It is the celebrated lady Harvey, replied O’Brien; she has been a very improper character, but is now reformed, and received into some of the first circles—at least by such as are not rigid, like lord and lady Morrington.
Oh, don’t tell me any thing more against her, exclaimed Rose; I will not listen to you. She looks all sweetness and goodness, and I cannot believe a word of scandal. I see lady Morrington with her, approaching my mother. They will be acquainted, and I am so delighted, as I shall then know her.
When you are not so new to the world, ma’am, observed the indignant O’Brien, you will not be so eagerly fascinated with every engaging appearance,ance, K3r 197 ance, and find it fallacious. There is not one person in a hundred that can now please me, even if they are as artful as old Nick.
You lose a great deal of pleasure then, by being indifferent to every one.
Possibly I may, ma’am; and as he pronounced these words, he walked away to another part of the room, to the great relief of Rose, who found him too satirical, though his delineation of some characters was amusing. Lord Morrington now introduced a new partner to her—the honourable Edward Montford. He was apparently in the meridian of life, and still handsome, though an air of languor was diffused over his person, as if he was in indifferent health. His conversation was lively, entertaining, and witty, his manners most polished and refined, and he danced gracefully, though with the same listlessness.
Captain O’Brien returned to annoy Miss Douglas, when he perceived she K3 was K3v 198 was again disengaged.—You have had a delectable partner at last, he exclaimed, sneeringly; one of the most wild and dissipated characters I know.
He is every thing that is agreeable, and I am sorry to perceive that he is not in good health.
Not in good health! he exclaimed with a laugh: why, he has the finest health in the world, or he would not support getting drunk every night. He has tippled too much now, and that is the reason he is so languishing.
You are really very severe, captain O’Brien; you destroy all one’s pleasure by shewing the dark side of every body’s character. I shall certainly begin to disbelieve you. If you think to mortify me by this account of Mr. Montford, you are mistaken. I should like him for a pleasing acquaintance or friend, but nothing more. Do not fean my being enamoured of him, for I heard a lady say, as we were standing at the end of the K4r 199 the dance, that Mr. Montford had been twice married, and I should not wish to be attached to a man who had been married a second time.
You are amazingly scrupulous: but his first wife he did not care a pin for, though he was madly in love with his second.
Then I sympathize with him for losing the object of his attachment.
There you are wrong again, for he was tired of her.
What a malevolent, unpleasing interpretation you give to the actions and conduct of others! I conclude you are very capricious, and judge of the feelings of people you know by your own.
True—you have guessed right.
I admire your candour, replied Rose, and will imitate it, by saying that is the only point in your disposition I approve, as you are too censorious.
Who is that ugly creature, said he, coming this way, marked with the small pox?K4 Rose K4v 200
Rose made no answer, as she trembled for fear Louise de Rimont should hear him, who was the person he alluded to, and advanced to her, with a girl, about seventeen.
Fortunately his remarks were unheard, and Louise introduced her companion to Rose, who thought her the most lovely being she had ever beheld. She was attired in a pale pink silk jacket, and white silk petticoat, trimmed with ribbons of the same colour, and a wreath of ivy and pink flowers confined her luxuriant chesnut hair. Her face was round, with two cheeks resembling peaches; her eyes dark, with the sweetest mouth; her lips like coral, and finely formed; and the light elegance of her figure gave one the idea of a sylph. She smiled with an air of good-humour at Rose, who was quite captivated with her, and Louise introduced her as a Miss Herbert.
They proceeded together to look at Mr. Jerry Wizzle, who was dressed as a Jew, with a long beard, and exhibited a magic- K5r 201 a magic-lanthorn, which part of the company assembled round him to gaze at, and he sustained his character uncommonly well. Eustace (who had not quitted the country) accompanied him as a watchman, with a droll little curly wig, and Miss Wizzle as a virgin of the sun—white gown, and large veil, with a gold band round her head.
This group highly diverted them all, till Miss Herbert was summoned by her party to quit the Castle, as her residence was at a great distance from lord Morington’s.
Rose and Miss Herbert separated with regret, but with the hope of soon meeting again, as Treharne was half-way from where she resided to the Castle.
Miss Herbert had scarcely left the room, when O’Brien was again at her side, purposely to indulge his splenetic moon, and therefore pursued Rose as her shadow.
You are delighted, I see, Miss DouglasK5 las, K5v 202 las, with that girl just gone; but I advise you not to be too easily fascinated; she is only a natural daughter of Mr. Herbert’s, who, though a man of fashion and fortune, ought not to introduce his spurious offspring. Ha! ha! I cannot help bursting my sides with laughter to see some of the prim ladies, who pretend to be models of correctness and of starched virtue, caressing base-born children, if their fathers happen to be rich and of consequence. It is shameful that it is so much tolerated, and a shocking example to the commonalty.
You will allow she is very beautiful? replied Rose, who did not wish to notice his incorrect observations.
Very well—by no means beautiful; she wants animation—a mere automaton. There is no beauty without life—she seems to simply vegetate.
You exhaust my patience, and satirize every one. I expect to have my share of your censure, and should be entertainedtertained K6r 203 tertained to hear you, as you have not gallantry enough to be more indulgent to the ladies than the gentlemen.
You may rely on not escaping, unless you conciliate my favour by being pleased with my society; but you do not seem that way disposed.
Lash me as cruelly as you can, for I will not disguise that I think you too much addicted to severe aspersion.
Here their conversation was interrupted by the general, Mrs. Douglas, and Jane, who informed her the postchaise was ready to convey them home.
They were attended to the carriage by the count de Fontenai, the marquis, and several other beaux, and left this pleasant scene of festivity with an agreeable recollection of the pleasure they had enjoyed without any alloy.
The general returned with them in the carriage; they were much incommoded for want of room, but in high spirits, till they reached Treharne. GeneralK6 neral K6v 204 neral Douglas had, in the course of the evening, met with a favourite acquaintance, whom he had not seen for several years, and this made the hours pass imperceptibly and pleasantly.
The day after the ball was very fine for the latter end of November, and tempted Rose and Jane to walk. Their conversation, as they proceeded, naturally turned on the occurrences of the last evening.
You appeared, observed Rose, to admire the count de Fontenai: his person is very pleasing, and his elegant style of dancing quite fascinating, but to his understanding and manners I am a stranger. Is he sensible and agreeable?
Quite the reverse; I think he is half a fool, and very inferior to the marquis de Monclair in captivation.
Explain, then, why you had the appearance of being much pleased with him, and neglected the marquis, with whom you seldom danced?"Because, K7r 205
Because, though I prefer the person, sense, and manners, of the marquis de Monclair, I would sacrifice my inclination to the wealth of Fontenai, as I am told he is very rich, and an only son.
You are very wrong, Jane; for if Fontenai is as weak as you represent him, he may, by some foolish action, impair his fortune, while Monclair, with his good understanding, may improve instead of diminishing the little he possesses. Besides, you ought not to encourage both; you may lose each admirer by such coquetry, which is certainly dishonourable.
I do not care a straw for either, but I am in the right to amuse myself with their admiration; and even if they should in time entertain a real passion, it will do them no injury. I recollect hearing Mrs. Pryce say, that men seldom die for love; they are soon consoled.
Just as she pronounced these words, the black girl appeared in sight, with Mrs. K7v 206 Ms. Pryce’s youngest daughter and little Tommy.
They ran up directly to Jane, and the little girl said—How many days it is since you have been to see us! Mamma often talks of you, and wishes you would come soon.
Jane, who seldom blushed, now felt a deep crimson suffuse her cheeks, and in confused accents desired them to tell their mamma she would call very soon, and dismissed them.
But the little girl called out, as they were going—Mamma told us to walk this way, as perhaps we might meet you, as we used to do, which heightened her confusion.
Rose was so affected at discovering her sister had a concealment of this description, that she could not speak for some minutes.—Oh, Jane! she at length exclaimed, how could you be so deceptious as to visit that unamiable lowminded woman frequently, unknown to your K8r 207 your family? Chance has led to the discovery, notwithstanding all your precaution, and it is very imprudent to associate with a woman whose character is suspicious, from the inquiries my mother made respecting her in the neighbourhood. Yet she has sent her several presents, to evince our gratitude for her kindness during the storm, and requested we will be polite and good-natured when we meet her or the children, but to avoid any intimacy. I fear you will bring yourself into some affliction, if you persevere in visiting her.
I am the best judge of my own conduct, replied Jane, elevating her voice; for, conscious she had acted wrong, she endeavoured to drown the reflection in noise; and if I am ever persuaded by Mrs. Pryce to act imprudently, I injure no one but myself.
Rose was frightened at her speaking so loud, lest their conversation should be overheard; but thought it her duty to admonish K8v 208 admonish her to correct the violence of her temper. This conduct, she observed, that was overlooked in a child, was insupportable in a woman; and she should remember they were descended from a distinguished family, that she hoped she would endeavour not to disgrace, as her thoughtless behaviour made her very uneasy.
Fury flashed in Jane’s eyes, and she was going to reply with acrimony, when a turning in the winding road they were sauntering through presented the wellknown forms of Courtenay and Burton at a little distance.
Jane had the prudence to check her anger, and said, in a whisper, before the gentlemen drew near, that if her sister would conceal her visits to Mrs. Pryce from her mother, she would promise to only call and see her once more.
I depend on your keeping your word, replied Rose, otherwise I shall incur my parents’ displeasure for concealingcealing K9r 209 cealing what has passed, and it will prevent me from ever again entangling myself in your concerns. How often have I taken a thorn out of your side, to put in my own! But, if you deceive me again, I must renounce you for ever.
Happily the near approach of the gentlemen terminated this unpleasant altercation; and Burton, who had perceived that his friend admired Rose, with his usual sweetness of temper walked forward with Jane, leaving Courtenay to escort Miss Douglas.
Captain Courtenay was disposed to make himself very agreeable, and when that was his intention, he seldom failed to succeed.
Rose was more charmed with his conversation than she had ever been, and the time glided insensibly and delightfully away. There was an irresistible tenderness and softness in his address, and for the time, unconsciously, she experienced a predilection in his favour, and K9v 210 and felt the full force of the winning expression of his fine blue eyes.
As they slowly walked back, they heard the sound of a bugle-horn, and lord Morrington’s pack of fox-hounds, which met that morning at Stokewood, appeared in sight. Eustace was with them, and called out that they had enjoyed excellent fun, one of the French noblemen having been obligated to suspend himself in a tree, when his hunter leaped over a five-barred gate, but he supposed he would soon extricate himself from his exalted situation.—We have had a most delightful run, added Eustace, of two hours, and I mean to be in at the death; and saying this, he rode off.
They had not walked much further, before sir Henry Arundel, Mr. Montford, the count de Fontenai, and the marquis de Monclair, overtook them.
They inquired if the story Eustace had related was true, and Fontenai acknowledgedledged K10r 211 ledged it was, and that he had by that method escaped breaking his neck, never having hunted before. He now dismounted, and leading his horse, said he would attend them to Treharne, as he wished to call on the general and Mrs. Douglas.
The marquis de Monclair was determined likewise to give up the chase, which had, he observed, little attraction for him, and the ladies infinitely more; and De Fontenai and himself resigned their horses to a servant, and walked with captain Burton and Jane.
Sir Henry Arundel and Mr. Montford now wished them all good-morning, saying they should pay their respects to the general the following day.
Captain Burton was disgusted with the foppishness and empty discourse of De Fontenai, for his chief topic of conversation related to dress. He informed Jane that he had invented many newfashions, and that he always cut out himself K10v 212 himself the pattern of his waistcoats and pantaloons; and if any work was required to ornament the latter part of his dress, he drew the design himself.
This may be very interesting to your tailor, exclaimed the marquis de Monclair, but it cannot concern any one else—but I beg your pardon, it may probably also interest your valet, who has these wonderful habiliments secondhand.
The marquis was perfectly free from the coxcombical weakness that made De Fontenai ridiculous, and it silenced the count on this subject for the present; but he commenced another almost as absurd. His vanity made him conjecture that Jane Douglas admired him as much as he did her, and looking tenderly at her, he sighed and said—I have a very delicate constitution, mademoiselle Jeanne—I wish entre nous you were not called Jeanne, for that is the name we call goats by in France. However, as K11r 213 as I was going to observe, I do not think I shall live many years, as all my family for several generations have died young; and when I marry, I should like my wife, after my decease, not only to wear black, but to have her apartments likewise hung with the same dismal colour, and even the curtains of her bed.
What stupid nonsense! exclaimed Burton; the black draperies would soon be exchanged for a more gay appearance. You have heard, I suppose, the old story of the Ephesian matron, and I am sure women are not less inconstant than formerly?
I have a better opinion of myself, monsieur le capitaine, than to suppose I should not be lamented by my wife—I even think she would not survive my loss: a count de Fontenai is not every day to be obtained.
This sally diverted them all; and the marquis, whose circumstances were very contracted, K11v 214 contracted, observing that captain Courtenay was considerably older than any of the gentlemen present, conjectured that he was some rich man, who was making his court to one of the young ladies, and his partiality to Jane made him apprehensive that she was the object of his admiration. He introduced the subject of marrying from interested motives, and thought it disgraceful for either man or woman to marry for fortune.
For a man it certainly is, replied Burton; but in a woman it is pardonable, as distressed finances or an uncomfortable home is often their just excuse.
That is no extenuation of their error—love and content are superior to wealth and grandeur. The rich do not know what love is—it is a blessing reserved only for the poor. A young lady and gentleman of my acquaintance, who were ardently attached, married with a very K12r 215 very small income, and they were quite contented: affection supplied the absence of luxuries.
Spoken like a romantic enthusiastic young Frenchman, said Burton: but I admire your sentiments, and it appears to me that you have more liberal ideas of love in France than in England. I am afraid we are in general too mercenary.
You are a trading nation, replied Monclair, and that may be the cause; but your very young men in this country have a little more ardour and liberality than those advanced or advancing in years. How superior is their attachment to an old man’s! A young man does not know the colour of your eyes, and is indulgent; while, on the contrary, the other is peevish, obstinate, and illhumoured.
They continued to discuss this point till they arrived at the side of the river fronting Treharne; they crossed over, and K12v 216 and found lady Harvey with their father and mother.
The gentlemen soon after departed, and her ladyship then invited the general, Mrs. Douglas, and her daughters, to pass a few days at her villa. The general and his lady declined the invitation, but allowed their daughters to avail themselves of it.
Lewin Court, the residence of lady Harvey, was charmingly situated on the banks of the river Exe, near the countryseat of Miss Herbert’s father, which was an additional temptation for Rose to wish to go there.
Miss Herbert, hearing soon after that they intended to visit Lewin Court, offered, with the utmost good-nature, to fetch them in her father’s carriage, and on the day appointed conveyed them to her ladyship’s house.
Lady Harvey received them on their arrival with mingled sweetness, dignity, and elegance. Miss Nugent, the adopteded L1r 217 ed daughter of a particular friend, was with her. She was a delicate fair girl, about twelve years old, with blue eyes, and an expressive engaging countenance.
Half-an-hour after they had arrived, the sisters expressed a wish to retire, and dress for dinner; but lady Harvey, in the most amiable manner, said—I beg you will not take that trouble, after your journey, as I understand you had a long walk before you commenced it. I live in general so retired, that we make no toilet here.
Her ladyship’s mother now entered, and was introduced to them as Mrs. Curtis. Her appearance was that of an old farmer’s wife, but her behaviour easy and cheerful, as if accustomed to good society, though her language was simple. Mrs. Curtis appeared to dote on her daughter, who seemed to ardently return her affection.
Rose admired lady Harvey’s filial piety, which prevented her from being Vol. I. L ashamed, L1v 218 ashamed, in the superior and elevated station in which she had moved, to acknowledge her parent, and shew her every tenderness.
When lady Harvey attended her husband, sir Walter Harvey, abroad, her mother accompanied her, and her ladyship was received by the queen of a foreign court with the greatest distinction. Sir Walter was the slave of her consummate beauty, and he assiduously exerted himself to improve her then uninformed mind.
Lady Harvey possessed, with the most perfect form and face, wonderful natural abilities, and, though young and uneducated, soon became elegant and accomplished. Nature had done a great deal for her, and the instruction of sir Walter, and the best and most refined society, finished what she had begun.
Many anecdotes were related of her ignorance and simplicity, and among the rest, that sir Walter, who was a great collector L2r 219 collector of antiquities and rarities, having obtained a most rare and valuable vase, placed it in his drawing-room: here her ladyship was one day displaying some graceful attitudes, which were generally admired, when, approaching near the vase, sir Walter looked alarmed, which made her exclaim—Don’t be afeard, sir Walter—I won’t break your jug.
But these kinds of stories, if true, or raised by envy at her exaltation from a low condition, did not lessen her merit, but really served to make her genius appear the greater, that could break through the disadvantages of early neglect and indigence.
Lady Harvey had taught Miss Nugent some of her graceful and fascinating attitudes, which she practised with a white muslin shawl, that she tastefully disposed, so as to form an elegant drapery round her slender figure, when she assumed the posture and expression of L2 different L2v 220 different characters. Miss Douglas and her sister likewise admired the incomparable style in which lady Harvey had instructed the interesting Miss Nugent to repeat poetry.
Rose was more captivated than ever with the dazzling beauty, talents, and conversation of lady Harvey, and could with difficulty withdraw her eyes from her attractive person, whenever she spoke or sung, which she did inimitably. In conversation, her voice was sweetly harmonious, and Rose mentally exclaimed— I am not surprised at her elevation, for I am certain I should have been in love with her, if I had been a man.
Her ladyship, who was well acquainted with the world, and had considerable penetration, easily perceived her innocent and unaffected admiration, and was pleased with this artless homage to her charms from one so new to life.
She smiled at seeing Miss Douglas, in the course of the evening, look at one of L3r 221 of her portraits, drawn when she was in the first bloom of youth, and exclaim— How exquisitely lovely it was!
Jane, who was not such an enthusiast as her sister, was engaged in conversing with two nieces of lady Harvey’s, that her ladyship had likewise the goodness to maintain, and from whom she learnt many anecdotes that were afterwards communicated to her sister.
Lord Nugent, the courageous and distinguished naval officer, who was the reputed father, by many, of his adopted child, Miss Nugent, had bravely expired, about three years previous to the present period. The warmth of his attachment and friendship for lady Harvey was almost unequalled, and his dying thoughts rested on her and his daughter, before the fatal moment of his irremediable loss. When he was in company, he was never animated but when her ladyship was speaking or singing, and then his single eye (having lost the other in battle) was L3 enlightened L3v 222 enlightened with vivacity and delight. A regard so flattering and uncommon produced a grateful and affectionate return. The news of his death acutely wounded her feelings, and frenzied sorrow for some weeks nearly turned her brain; but time, and the reflection that her grief was irreparable, had softened her anguish.
Lewin Court was enchantingly situated on the banks of the river, with a garden in front, leading down on a slope to it. On the ground-floor was a pretty boudoir, two elegant drawing-rooms, and a dining-parlour. Several exquisitely- painted portraits of lady Harvey, when very young, and afterwards when her beauty was more matured, ornamented the drawing-rooms, and Rose thought she had never beheld any thing so eminently lovely, as her form was perfectly proportioned, and her face beautiful. In her person was combined what is rarely seen—the perfection of beauty, with expressionpression L4r 223 pression and grace. Lord Nugent’s bust was placed in the handsomest drawing- room, and his pictures in every apartment, in different attitudes; each room, therefore, reminded one of the brave hero, who had nobly distinguished himself in many a severe contest. Near a wholelength portrait of him, in the best drawing-room, was a very interesting picture of Miss Nugent, when nearly three years younger, kneeling at the tomb of the brave Nugent, with her sweet blue eyes suffused with tears. The performance was pleasing and affecting, and her youthful sorrow so well portrayed, that the drops of anguish seemed to tremble in her eyes. In the same apartment hung the picture of the foreign queen who was so much attached to lady Harvey, and evinced the greatest friendship for her. Her face and form were exceedingly handsome, but her countenance was haughty and repulsive, and they could not tell if it was its natural L4 expression L4v 224 expression or a misrepresentation of the artist.
The apartment destined for Rose and Jane was an elegant room on the first floor. The bed-furniture was a beautiful coloured muslin, lined with a deep pink silk; and when they arose in the morning, the scene from the windows was delightful. The river flowing gently along, its banks covered with verdure and trees, and a prospect of hills gradually rising behind, gave it altogether the most pleasing and cheerful view of nature in her loveliest garb.
After passing three happy days, they returned home, and found their father and mother absent, having rode out, but Eustace waiting for them in the drawing-room. He had called early in the morning to take leave, as he was shortly to quit Fairfield; and Mrs. Douglas, with her customary good-nature, invited him to remain and dine, as she thought he would be glad to see the young people before L5r 225 before he went, judging, with a mother’s partiality, that every person who had known them for any length of time must be prepossessed in their favour. Mr. Eustace had studied to make himself approved by Mrs. Douglas, and been successful, as she was unacquainted with his having had artful designs on her daughter, who had not thought it worth while to mention how often he had expressed an attachment to her, and told many a tale of love. She was apprehensive of his incurring her mother’s anger, who would consequently inform the general of the circumstance, which would excite his indignation against Eustace; and she could not endure the reflection, ill as he had behaved to her, of causing him any real vexation, though he richly merited punishment for his presumption.
Have you seen any thing of captain Courtenay or Burton, Mr. Eustace, asked Jane since you came here?
For a moment, he replied, and L5 they L5v 226 they are now gone to Morrington Castle, where, I understand, they sleep tonight.
Don’t you think them very agreeable men? continued Jane.
Burton, I grant you, is; but Courtenay is the greatest puppy I have yet met with—the most decided libertine ever known; it is such an affected coxcomb! I am acquainted with many officers in the navy, who speak with the utmost contempt of his vanity and affectation. At table one day, in carving a fowl, he said—Will you allow me to fatigue you with the bosom of this fowl?
Those who speak against him, observed Rose, only prove their envy of his superiority, and because he is a universal favourite with the ladies. It is publicly acknowledged that he displayed the truest bravery in a duel he fought abroad; and likewise in a distinguished battle, where he evinced the noblest intrepidity, activity, and courage, which will L6r 227 will be remembered as long as the History of England lasts. That he is rather foppish, I do not deny: but who, pray, is perfect? One fault is pardonable, and it is better to be silent than censure superior merit.
You speak, Miss Douglas, as if you were much interested in his favour. I am astonished you should, and cannot imagine how you can be partial to a man who has no personal attraction to boast. Such an old fellow too, coaxing his sable curls over his wrinkled forehead, with a head like a bull.
Whatever faults may cloud his character, exclaimed Rose, he has one virtue that counterbalances all, which is charity to the failings of others: he is not inclined to the odious vice of defamation. I have never known him the least disposed to censure; and, to prove his superiority to you, Mr. Eustace, when a gentleman was criticising your person, and saying your chin was like a L6 shoeing- L6v 228 shoeing-horn, and the handle of a pump, he observed that was too severe, and that, in his opinion, you were a handsome man. It is not captain Courtenay’s appearance alone that is attractive (though his eyes are beautiful), but the fascination of his manners, which makes him dangerous.
Fascination of his manners! said Eustace, in a contemptuous tone; it’s those curls, I suppose, which he papers undoubtedly every night. Whoever can be pleased with him must be easily fascinated. It is a downright infatuation.
If you go in this style, replied Rose, I shall believe what the gentleman who was censorious, like yourself, declared—that people who had such a long chin as yours were always satirical and ill-tempered.
Believe what you please, ma’am, but be assured you will repent this blind admiration. When Courtenay held a situation abroad, he seduced a number of innocent L7r 229 innocent young girls, even mulattoes and black girls, and several in England, whom he afterwards deserted. I discovered him the other day making love to a beautiful country girl, not far from Treharne. I had met him three or four times before with her, and he said to me —Say nothing about it Eustace; don’t spoil sport. By Heavens! I should not be surprised if he married her, notwithstanding his search after a rich wife, in the person of the great fortune, Miss Mason. She is a lovely creature this fair country girl—unadorned simple nature. It is an excuse for any mad action he may commit, and the Irish, I have been told, are fond of low connexions.
Here Eustace felt his malice completely gratified, for Rose blushed, and then her complexion turned to a deathlike paleness, unconscious of her predilection for Courtenay, till she heard of his being attached to another. She did not recover her usual vivacity during the rest of the L7v 230 the day, to the extreme satisfaction of the satirical Eustace, who seized every opportunity of mortifying her, as her depression gave him an additional advantage. He had, however, no justifiable reason to exult over and insult her. He would have been equally endeared to her if he had evinced the same winning tenderness and captivating address as Courtenay had demonstrated. Her disposition was too honourable to have willingly received any striking attentions, or given encouragement to the captain, had she been engaged to Eustace.
In the afternoon they walked to the hermitage. The sun shone warmly for the season; and the little building being well secured with thatch and moss, was protected from the intrusion of the cold air. They seated themselves there for a few minutes, and Jane asked Eustace to give them a farewell song.
He declined, saying he was not in voice; and suddenly turning to Rose exclaimed— L8r 231 exclaimed—I am quite surprised, Miss Douglas, that you are not more accomplished. Your sister plays on the lute, but you cannot perform on the piano, or any musical instrument.
I am sorry you disapprove of my deficiency in modern accomplishments, said Rose, with a smile; but I assure you I have not the least inclination to perform on any musical instrument, unless I could excel. An indifferent performer only wounds the ear, and cannot convey any pleasure to people of taste.
To play well, observed Jane, joining in the conversation, is desirable; but I think it is annoying to hear a lady execute a piece of music, or a song, like a learner, which frequently happens in society, and none of the company attend to the performance, unless to bestow undeserved praise, and please the wretched performer with flattery. Neither do I think it a wonderful accomplishment to play on the piano, as you do, Mr. Eusstacetace, L8v 232 stace, having heard my father and mother say, that in London the daughters of the meanest tradesmen learn music; and you often hear the sound of some musical instrument as you pass a greengrocer’s or butcher’s shop. We were very young when we embarked with our parents for America, where we could not get a good master to improve us, and therefore soon forgot the little musical instruction we had received in England.
You must have been both very dull, rejoined Eustace, to forget the lessons you had from your master in this country. What you have advanced is a poor excuse for your want of genius. But, never mind—people get very well through the world without being clever.
You need not be so ill-natured, Mr. Eustace, for my sister is allowed to be very accomplished, and possesses many elegant acquirements, which are much admired."Ha! L9r 233
Ha! ha! cried Eustace; you will really make me burst with laughing if you continue puffing your sister in this ludicrous manner. Now go on, and give us an account of the accomplishments of the rest of the Douglas family. I did not find fault with you, because you play and sing exceedingly well on the lute, but with your sister’s dulness and inferior taste, in neglecting to cultivate so pleasing a talent.
Rose blushed, and mildly said—I wish you had not taken the trouble to defend me, Jane, as your vindication only excites more severe observations.
Satirize him then in return, replied her sister; I am sure he affords an ample subject for criticism; I shall never spare him when he attacks me. But I rejoice the ill-natured creature is going, and can no longer vent his spleen on you. He is not like the good captain Burton and amiable Courtenay, who are always praising you, and admiring your abilities. Captain L9v 234 Captain Burton has made Rose, Mr. Eustace, a most elegant present, for a drawing she painted for him.
This intelligence, and Miss Jane’s remarks, did not heighten his good-humour, and he continued in the same splenetic temper, and sullen to Miss Douglas, till the period of his departure. Of the general, Mrs. Douglas, and Jane, he took a polite and friendly farewell; but shewed Rose (without any reason) a cool and marked neglect, scarcely saying adieu; and she justly felt his going away quite a relief, never having, by her conduct, merited such treatment, which was unmanly and unworthy.
General Douglas was reading in his library the next morning, when he unexpectedly received a letter from Scotland. It informed him that his brother was dangerously ill, and wished to see him. In consequence of this information, he proposed setting out the following day, as he was anxious to comply with L10r 235 with the wishes of his near relation, in that critical state of health. Mrs. Douglas insisted on accompanying a husband so beloved, whose naturally strong constitution was become fragile from repeated hardships and excessive fatigue. With health so precarious, she would not allow him to travel thus far alone, as he would feel the loss (if taken ill) of her unvarying attention and tenderness— that tenderness which springs from the heart, and is so superior to the assiduities of an hireling.
This arrangement being concluded, captain Burton and his friend proposed, that on the same day that the general and Mrs. Douglas left Treharne, Courtenay and himself should repair to Morrington Castle, and take advantage of lord Morrington’s repeated invitations for them to make his lordship a long visit. Mrs. Fane, who resided at Arlington, a village about a mile from Treharne, and was much attached to Mrs. Douglas, her intimate L10v 236 intimate friend, promised to call and see her daughters every other day, and to have them frequently at her house; which was very consolatory to their mother, who felt uneasy at quitting them, as they had never been separated from her, except for a few days, before.
The general could not feel afflicted at the situation of his brother, as he had not experienced the least kindness or proof of attachment from him, though he knew his narrow circumstances, with a family to support, and was himself environed with riches he had not the spirit to enjoy. His miserly disposition had contracted the natural and social affections of the heart; and he once refused to lend the general a trifling sum of money, when he requested it in great pecuniary distress. Yet this niggardly being, when he feared he was approaching his dissolution, seemed to feel keen remorse at length touch his flinty breast, though every affectionate sentiment previously appeared L11r 237 appeared withered and obliterated. He was now anxiously desirous to behold his nearest relative before the vital spark was extinct.
General Douglas lamented that Felix was not at home to remain with his sisters in their absence, as they had never been unprotected till the period which was arriving, when they would be left alone for the first time. But he confided with satisfaction in the prudence and steadiness of Rose, and cautioned her and her sister to decline every invitation they received in their absence, except one long-promised visit to doctor Wizzle’s, and as many as they liked to Mrs. Fane’s, though he relied on their good sense not to obtrude too often on that amiable lady’s goodness, who would invite them perhaps more frequently than was convenient to her. The commands of their parents would be a sufficient excuse, he observed, for them to decline visiting at Morrington, L11v 238 Morrington, or any other place, without giving offence.
Rose was very melancholy when the moment of her father and mother’s departure arrived. Captain Burton and his friend were already gone, but, with the general’s permission, had promised to call and see them. This did not, however, console her for the loss of her worthy and respected parents’ society. She considered the distance they had to go, her father’s delicate health, and that they could not return for a long time, even if her uncle had expired before they reached Scotland.
Jane, who was seldom affected at any event, looked serious, while KamiaKamira, when the carriage drove off, wept and bemoaned herself as if she was never to see them any more.
It was an interesting scene to behold the fidelity and affection of the Esquimaux, who retained all her savage virtues,tues L12r 239 tues, though her exterior was grown polished, and Rose valued her more than ever for her ardent attachment to the dear authors of her being. Dolly and Robin looked very grave, and dulness reigned that day throughout the mansion— scarcely a sound was heard.
The general’s journey passed without any remarkable occurrence, and, as they travelled expeditiously till they reached Scotland, Mrs. Douglas was pleased to observe that he supported the fatigue better than she could have expected. To Mrs. Douglas the scenery in North Britain was quite new, and she admired that part of her journey that conducted her to the banks of the picturesque river Dee, that has been so often celebrated in verse. The country combined wild and pleasing images: here fields of waving corn, intermixed with craggy hills and towering rocks, diversified the landscape; a cheerful village peeped from among the trees, and willows and lofty L12v 240 lofty pines graced the side of the water, as, calm and smooth, it clearly flowed along. They proceeded through a winding romantic vale, bounded with mountains clothed with wood, till they reached a sterile spot, from whence a natural cascade fell, and murmuring rushed among the overhanging rocks and cliffs, the water, where it was not mixed with foam, being as bright and transparent as crystal.
They travelled progressively till they attained a hill that commanded a prospect of the Dee, flowing gently onward, and on the summit of this eminence was erected, many centuries since, the gothic castle of sir James Douglas, the general’s harsh and parsimonious brother.
The cheerful aspect of the river, reflecting the azure sky, enlivened the prospect, to which the dark green extensive woods would have given a gloomy air. A little island in the river, planted with shrubs and trees, gave a variety to the M1r 241 the scene. Some of the neighbouring summits were shaded with broom and heath, enlivened with its gay purple and yellow blossoms; and here and there a grey rock raised its venerable head.
At the back part of the castle of Towie Craigs was a large park, extending to a great distance, filled with deer, whose branching horns and light elegant figures gave a pleasant feature to the varied view.
They reached the Castle-gate; the postillion rang the heavy bell; it sounded loud and hoarse, and a ferocious mastiff barked furiously, as if unaccustomed to the arrival of visitors. The door was cautiously and slowly opened, after an old man from one of the casements had carefully surveyed them, as they were seated in the postchaise. The same aged man appeared at the inhospitable gate, with the mastiff, lean as a greyhound, by his side. He wagged his tail when the general entered the Castle, Vol. I. M and M1v 242 and then fawned on him, who now recognized in the half-starved animal, Rover, grown very old, but the plump favourite of former days.
General Douglas inquired directly after sir James, and was informed he had recovered considerably for the last two days. He conjectured, therefore, that his brother was not in any immediate danger, as a change for the better was a favourable symptom; and it was therefore his intention to amuse himself in shooting and traversing the scenes of his early days, though the alterations which had taken place since he was a youth inspired him with melancholy sensations.
One old man and woman were all the attendants sir James kept—a striking contrast to his father’s establishment, whose hall, at this time of the year, was thronged with servants in rich liveries; and the piper, in the ancient Scottish dress, welcomed the stranger and traveller with the cheerful though rough sound of his bagpipe. M2r 243 bagpipe. At this season the Castle was formerly filled with company, and many gentlemen, who came to shoot, as the hills abounded with game, partridges, blackcocks, dotterels, and other birds.
Mrs. Douglas was left alone, while the general went to see his brother, and a gloomy deep dejection chilled her veins, as she sat solitary and pensive in the dull room where he quitted her. The small panes of the casements that gave light to the apartment were rendered more obscure by various cobwebs that were suffered unmolested to remain, and undisturbed dust covered the furniture and walls, secure from the invading broom of any notable housewife.
Three days had elapsed since the general and Mrs. Douglas departed for Scotland. During that interval their daughters had received a visit from Mrs. Fane, and captain Burton and Courtenay had called twice. The latter continued to improve in the good opinion of Rose, and her partiality made her doubt the truth of every thing that Eustace had averred to his prejudice. She judged M3r 245 judged it to proceed from a malignant disposition, which disapproved hearing the praise of another, and to a slanderous propensity. The more she associated with different characters, the more she discovered, with concern, the prevalence of slander, which is indeed too general. Even those who give parties, and received a great deal of company, Miss Douglas remarked would frequently backbite their visitors, which made her more earnestly endeavour to check the least approach to a vice so ungenerous. The most trifling tendency therefore to calumny was her aversion, and she felt pleased that a person who, like Eustace, was addicted to censure, had left the country. Yet she regretted his failing, from having been once prepossessed in his favour, and sincerely wished he might correct this evil propensity.
The knowledge of his absence from doctor Wizzle’s encouraged them to accept an invitation to drink tea at the M3 doctor’s, M3v 246 doctor’s, a visit they had long intended. Captain Burton and his friend were to accompany them, and they were much gratified at no longer having to encounter the sarcasms of the satirical Eustace.
Courtenay and Burton were punctual to their engagement, and they commenced their walk to Fairfield. Part of this walk led by the river side, and the remainder through a wood of small extent, but picturesque and pleasing. The sun was gradually sinking in the west, and its faint rays lightly gilded the trees, almost bare and leafless. A few remaining leaves sometimes rustled down, and strewed their path, announcing the approaching conclusion of the year. The woodland scene was occasionally varied by clumps of tall firs, verdant laurels, variegated hollies, and gloomy yew.
Had this rural walk been less agreeable, still it would have charmed Rose, as, leaning on Courtenay’s arm, she attentively listened to his fascinating conversation,versation, M4r 247 versation, which imparted a pleasing interest to each surrounding object. Burton and Jane walked with a quicker pace before them, talking away, gay and unconcerned, as no lurking passion created in their bosoms the least anxiety or perturbation.
Notwithstanding all Rose had heard to the disadvantage of Courtenay, she would not suffer one suspicious thought to be disingenuously concealed in her mind, or to flutter about her heart to his discredit, and prevent her giving the fullest scope to her confidence.
He mentioned that he found his residence at Morrington Castle pleasant enough, yet he did not feel so happy as at Treharne, where he had Rose to welcome him, when he had been absent, on pleasure or on a shooting excursion. It was so delightful, he observed, to be received on returning home by a being one values and esteems.
The first evening of my absence, M4 added M4v 248 added Courtenay, I wished I could have transported you to Morrington, where your taste, accomplishments, and cheerful conversation, would have given a zest to the insipid society I was with.
I thought you were very partial to her ladyship, answered Rose.
When she is disposed to make herself captivating, I like her very well, but that is not so frequent as I could wish; and she has a fault which displeases me —it is a disposition to view with a jaundiced eye the perfections of her own sex, particularly if any attention or marked affection is shewn and returned. For instance, when I have been praising you, she has either been silent, or expressed her disapprobation, to my great disappointment, as I should always like to see goodness like yours followed by esteem, as your good understanding and propriety will never permit the most attentive observer to question any part of your conduct."You M5r 249
You are very indulgent, replied Rose—more so than I deserve; but I do not expect to be regarded by every person with the same favourable eye. Satisfied with pleasing those whose good opinion I justly estimate, I shall never be uneasy because I am censured by indifferent people.
This subject was interrupted by their arrival at doctor Wizzle’s, who saluted them with his usual kindness. Doctor Owen, who now boarded with them, advanced and said—Really, ladies, it is so long since I have seen you, that I was afraid you were lost, dead, or what is worse, forgotten me and this amiable family; but I assure you, the proverb out of sight out of mind had no place in my breast, when applied to such charming ladies. I have often longed to be in the company of certain persons; I know who, and I know where—but mum!
They all smiled at this ludicrous address;M5 dress; M5v 250 dress; and Mrs. Wizzle requested Miss Douglas and her sister to divest themselves of their bonnets and pelisses in her daughter’s apartment, who she supposed was now dressed.
Rose and Jane therefore followed Mrs. Wizzle, and discovered Miss Polly at her toilet, grasping a tallow candle with both hands, and rubbing it on her hair, instead of a roll of pomatum, as she wore powder. They found it difficult to preserve a serious appearance at this sight, and seated themselves patiently (at her desire) till she was quite attired.
At length she descended with them to the drawing-room, dressed in the most gaudy style, elated with the hope of attracting the admiration of the gentlemen. A deep rose-coloured silk hat ornamented her head, filled with artificial flowers; and a clear muslin, over a slip of the same gay tint, enveloped her punchy form, shapeless as a barrel. A long pink sash completed her shewy costume, M6r 251 costume, which made her look more ordinary than she had ever appeared before.
After tea, cards occupied the time till supper, prepared at an early hour, which they were obliged reluctantly to partake.
As they proceeded to the supper-room, Rose accidentally turned her head, and perceived, to her astonishment, Miss Wizzle, who remained behind the last, pinching her sallow cheeks to produce a colour. This the more surprised Miss Douglas, as she had frequently heard Miss Wizzle find fault with a natural bloom, saying it gave a vulgar look to a female to have a colour, and that it was more genteel for a lady to be pale. She was sorry Miss Polly thought it worth while to tell an untruth, and was diverted with her being anxious to obtain what nature had refused her.
A large roast pig was placed at the head of the table, and two fowls at bottom. The fowls were purchased by Mr. M6 Jerry M6v 252 Jerry, who having carved them, helped Miss Douglas and her sister to part: but no sooner had they tasted what was on their plates, than they found it impossible to be eaten, it was so exceedingly bitter; and poor Mr. Jerry discovered the fowls had been rubbed all over with aloes.
He could not conjecture who could have played him this ill-natured trick, not suspecting that it was a piece of revenge performed by his sister, Miss Polly, whom he had offended a few days previous to the visit.
Well acquainted with his partiality and respect for Miss Douglas, whom he was anxious to please, and for that purpose purchased the fowls, she meditated this scheme of vengeance to mortify him. But she was defeated, in a great measure, in the consequence of her malicious design, as the kindness of their guests soothed his mortification, and obliterated speedily the remembrance. The table M7r 253 table was liberally supplied, and they had no want of provisions to regret.
After supper, singing was introduced, and Miss Wizzle said to her father, who had entertained them with one song— Sum up All, father—Sum up All.
Their visitors were apprehensive, from this speech, that she intended her father should sing all the songs he knew, which they dreaded, as a severe tax on their politeness, the poor old doctor having, of course, at his age, a wretched voice; but they were greatly relieved by discovering that Sum up All was the name of one song he frequently amused his visitors with.
Doctor Owen observed, when they were taking leave, that he hoped to have a specimen of their good-nature when the general returned, in their consenting to spend some evening with him, as he had a drawing-room separate, to receive any ladies who would do him the honour to come and taste his tea and M7v 254 and sugar, which was a curiosity, being twelve years old. He had left it in England when he went to France, and found it all untouched on his return.
Miss Wizzle, however, whispered that it was not fit to drink. She was afraid to express her disapprobation of it aloud, as evidently she was exerting herself to ensnare the wealthy doctor into the matrimonial noose: but the old gentleman was too well aware of female cunning on these occasions, and too artful himself to be easily gained. It was the young and lovely of the fair sex that he admired, having been a man of great gallantry; but even the power of beauty could not conquer his parsimonious nature, which made him averse even to the expence of a beautiful wife.
Captain Burton and Courtenay escorted Miss Douglas and her sister back to Treharne, where they had left their horses.
Captain Courtenay lingered behind with Rose, M8r 255 Rose, as he thought this was the most eligible opportunity he could have to explicitly declare his attachment to her. The night was fine, but obscure, and the dim light favourable for concealing their mutual emotion.
You have passed a stupid evening, said Rose, but we cannot do otherwise than visit this family once every year, as the good doctor Wizzle and his amiable son Jerry shew us the greatest attention, and perform many little offices for my father, which are of great service to him; and they think themselves highly repaid, if we pass an evening at their house.
Your being there, rejoined Courtenay, made the entertainment delightful, as the hours I pass in your sweet society are the happiest of my life. That innocent cheerfulness is a source of pure pleasure, and I can no longer disguise that I feel I truly love you, and sincerely wish to be possessed of such M8v 256 such a wife. What a treasure will you bestow on me, if you confide yourself to my care! Speak then, and decide my fate, and tell me if I am not disagreeable to you?
Rose hesitated. The declaration was so abrupt and unexpected that she was unprepared to answer, and remained silent and agitated.
Again he urged her to own if she approved him; and in faltering accents she confessed, after some moments of confusion, that she was pleased with his attentions.
When he had attained this confession, Courtenay thus continued to address her—If you grant the boon I ask, yourself, my latest hour will bless you for the gift. My birth I owe to a noble family—my fortune chiefly to myself, and I have yet to improve it. You will marry a poor, but faithful and affectionate heart. Some of my days have been clouded with sorrow; but latterly the sun M9r 257 sun has brightened, and I trust to see it setting with tranquillity, if I have a tender and constant partner to share my pleasures and pains. Confirm then my happiness, and say you will soon be mine!
I confide in the fidelity of your attachment, replied Rose, and consent to make you happy, provided that you acquire my parents’ approbation and blessing.
You seem to doubt me, exclaimed Courtenay, by this caution. I trusted you had some faith in the integrity of my principles.
By thinking I doubt you, you wrong me: but how can I give a decided answer till I know the sentiments of the best of fathers, and that my excellent mother is pleased with you? To prove my esteem, I request you will write directly to Scotland, and I ardently hope, if you love me as truly as you profess, my father’s answer will be a confirmation M9v 258 confirmation of your wishes. I only regret I have not known you longer.
Is it not possible for a rational being, continued Courtenay, in an angry tone, to distinguish in a few days (much more weeks) the real worth and character? Long solicitations of marriage are insufferable: it appears as if lovers distrusted their mutual fidelity. How easy do we distinguish the salubrious herb from the rank poison—the sweet fruit from the bitter!—Why then should we not know our own fellowcreatures? But enough of arguments— I will flatter myself with hope, since you confess I am not displeasing to you; and your parents, who have seen the world, have too enlightened minds to nourish your prejudices, and are superior, I am convinced, to the narrow judgment of the multitude.
As Courtenay ceased speaking, they reached Treharne. Jane and captain Burton had arrived half an hour before, as M10r 259 as their interesting conversation had made them loiter behind.
When Courtenay and his friend wished the sisters good-night, the former said, in a low voice—I hope soon to renew our last subject, that we discussed with so much interest this evening, and that your ideas will be more liberal on a candid view.
They were no sooner alone than Rose prepared, as usual, to retire to their apartment, as she felt fatigued, and wished likewise to reflect on what had passed, which she could easily do when she retired to rest (though not to court repose), as Jane generally fell asleep directly, and left her to quietly enjoy her reflections. But Rose was not allowed to ruminate on the events of the evening; Jane said, when she attempted to go up stairs, that she was neither weary or sleepy, and entreated she would sit up an hour later.—I think it so much lost time, she observed, to sink mymyselfself M10v 260 myself in dead oblivion, losing half the moments of too short a life before nature requires it.
To oblige you, replied Rose, I will remain an hour longer, though against my inclination: but let us dismiss the servants first, as they rise early, and require to retire earlier to repose than we do.
Accordingly she touched the bell, and informed Kamira, who answered it, that Robin, Dolly, and herself, might go directly to bed, if they had fastened up the house.
Kamira assured her that every place had been secured, except the hall-door, some hours, and that was now just bolted and barred.
Rose dismissed her, and listened to Jane’s account of a love-letter she had received from the count de Fontenai, who was in despair at not having seen her for several days, as he was informed the young ladies were not to receive any company, M11r 261 company, except very particular friends, during the general’s absence. The marquis de Monclair had never written, she remarked; therefore it proved, with all his professions, that he did not choose to commit them to writing, and had not so much affection for her as the count.
Rose replied, that she was exactly of the same opinion, and that she admired a man who had love enough to risk his sentiments in writing. How infinitely superior to the mean suspicious being who dares not acknowledge with his pen the affection he has frequently avowed!
Having indulged Jane with chatting as long as was agreeable to her, Rose took the candle, and ascending the stairs, her sister followed. They had just reached the middle of the staircase, near a window that looked over the river, when a strong light flashed so bright and suddenly across their eyes, that Rose started, and in the astonishment and terror of the moment let the candle fall, and it M11v 262 it was extinguished. The night was very dark and cold; but a faint glimmer seemed still to shine near the window.
When they were recovered from their surprise, they approached to discern what it was, and perceived a large body of light by that part of the river where the boat was moored. It appeared as if two or three persons were holding torches by the water side.
It cannot be any one who wishes to see us waiting there, exclaimed Rose or they would sound the bugle, which is placed near the boat purposely to announce the arrival of visitors; and I should not imagine any one would call so late at night, unless it were my brother returned unexpectedly, a happiness that would reward us for all our fears. However, I cannot hope that the lights are caused by that fortunate event, as he would certainly loudly acquaint us with his approach, by blowing the horn, and crossing over without ceremony.While M12r 263
While they formed this, and many other conjectures, the lights began to move, and forming two distinct bodies, glided along by the side of the river, to a very great distance, as far as the eye could reach, and disappeared.
With the vanishing of the lights, they lost all hope of seeing Felix, and now groped in the dark till they found their way to their bedchamber. Not a star beamed in the sky—all was deeply obscure and gloomy; and they were saying how very dismal and uncomfortable it was to undress without a candle, when the room became suddenly illuminated.
They ran to the window, and beheld the same lights moving rapidly, and fiercely blazing, like a bundle of wood on fire. Sometimes they were elevated five feet from the ground, hovered near the river, and at length melted into air, emitting sparks of flame.
How do you explain this appearance,ance, M12v 264 ance, which we have never seen before? said Jane, with a tremulous voice.
Do not alarm yourself, replied Rose, as I hear, by the sound of your voice, that you are frightened. I believe the lights are only Will with a Wisp, or, as it is sometimes called, Jack with a Lantern. Two of these lights are not commonly seen, but I have heard my mother relate they have been discovered, but rarely, and more in foreign countries than in England. I cannot account for this luminous appearance in any other manner, as I have heard they shine more at a distance than near, and haunt marshy places. The bank of the river, where it emitted most fire, was on the side where it is damp and covered with reeds. I wish we had gone to bed directly we came home, and then we should not have been disturbed, and creeping about in the dark. Another time I will not indulge you with gossipinging N1r 265 ing so late, when we are left with only the servants in the house.
Nor will I ask you, added Jane, unless my father and mother are at home. We are so solitary and lonely in this old mansion without them, that I feel alarmed at every noise. It was so cheerful with Burton and Courtenay— Oh, how I wish they were here!
They spoke no more; but Sleep with his leaden sceptre did not approach so soon as they expected. The appearance of the lights and thinking about it kept them awake for some time, till these reflections were lost in additional subjects of terror.
The heavy trampling of horses on the road near the house first attracted their attention. This was succeeded by fast galloping; and as the last sound of the horses’ hoofs resounded on the ear, they seemed to be pursued equally fast by another party, and several pistols were discharged.Vol. I. N Any N1v 266
Any further attempt to sleep was impossible and useless. Through the murky darkness that veiled all around, they perceived the flash of fire-arms, and heard the clashing of swords, with hoarse and angry voices, mingling with the howling blast, for the wind blew loud and shrill. The obscurity that clouded every surrounding object prevented them from discerning any thing clearly, and Jane exclaimed, that she was apprehensive they were a gang of robbers going to attack the mansion.
If they enter the house, continued the affrighted girl, what will become of us, with only old Robin for a protector? I think we had better go and call him up.
Rose assented, and endeavoured to calm her, while they threw on their wrapping gowns. Knowing that he slept in one of the attics, near his daughter and Kamira, they opened the door to proceed thither, when they observed a light N2r 267 light gleam from the lower staircase. Concluding to a certainty that it was Robin, or one of the maids, who, alarmed like themselves, had got up, and was going to the kitchen, they followed the welcome light.
It moved with such rapidity, that they could not overtake it, and therefore called Robin. But no answer being returned, they repeated the name of Kamira and Dolly. Still all was silent—no friendly voice re-echoed to theirs; but they continued to pursue the light, which moved so quickly from them, though they walked fast, that they could not distinguish the person who carried it.
At length it led them to the top of the stairs conducting to the damp extensive cellars underneath, where it totally vanished, leaving them in impenetrable darkness. The stillness of night was only interrupted at that gloomy moment by plaintive moans and lamentations, mingled with voices, that all seemeded N2v 268 ed to issue from the hollow mouldy vaults beneath.
Jane shrieked aloud, and fainted on the ground, while her sister endeavoured to save her from falling.
Rose now felt really terrified; she did not like to quit Jane, who was quite insensible, and cold as ice, and, as her only prospect of relief, loudly vociferated the name of Robin.
End of Vol.I.
Printed by J. Darling, Leadenhall-street, London.