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.
Rose had only remained a few minutes in this painful situation, when, to her great relief, Robin appeared descending with a candle. He had been roused by the noise of the horsemen and discharge of fire- Vol. II. B arms, B1v 2 arms, and got up to see that all was safe in the house; but the tinder being damp, he had great difficulty in striking a light; and this circumstance, with having to dress, had delayed him. He procured some water and hartshorn for Miss Jane, and they soon succeeded in restoring her to animation; then leading her into the library, placed her on a sofa till she was quite recovered.
Miss Douglas now mentioned to Robin the lights she had seen by the river, and the one on the staircase, which had deceived and conducted them near the cellars, whence the noise proceeded which had frightened them.
Robin shook his head, and informed them that when he was in Scotland, if such lights were seen there, either in houses or in their vicinity, they were called elf-candles, and supposed to portend the death of some of the family where they appeared.—Perhaps, continued the old man, it may be a warning to us of sir B2r 3 sir James Douglas’s death, which will not be a great affliction, as we expect it. God forbid, he observed, that it should be an omen of any other person’s in the family!
The considerate Robin now requested the young ladies to retire to their apartment, as he was afraid their health might suffer from being so thinly clothed in such inclement weather. He begged them to be easy in their minds, and endeavour to obtain some repose, as it was his intention to remain watching till daylight, when he proposed calling the maids, and then getting some sleep himself.
Miss Douglas told him she approved this plan very much, and hoped he would remain in bed all the next day if he liked, as it was not good for his health at his age to be deprived of rest.
He thanked her, and presenting them with a candle, they retired to their room, where soft refreshing slumbers soon visited them after all their terrors, their minds B2 being B2v 4 being calmed by knowing old Robin was on the watch to guard them from future ill. No other alarming sound occurred, and at daybreak he called his daughter and Kamira, whom he acquainted with the last night’s adventure, and then resigned himself to the drowsiness he felt.
In the morning they awoke pale and dispirited, for the impression still remained of the horrors they had encountered the night before. Jane was very dull and melancholy, which quite surprised Rose, who looked indisposed and did not feel well, but was not in the least dejected. Though she could not then developedevelop the cause of the appearances they had seen, and the extraordinary sounds that alarmed them, she yet supposed they proceeded from some natural reason, probably very simple when known. The preceding evening had been thick and hazy, and a heavy dew fallen, which made her imagine the lights were occasioned by noxious vapours exhaled from the moist earth, as B3r 5 as Will with a wisp was seen frequently in misty weather, and near rivers, which, added to its being a damp foggy night, seemed to elucidate the phenomenon. That part of the mansion where they slept had more tendency to dampness than any other quarter of the building, being situated over part of the mouldering vaults and wet cellars that had not been opened for long revolving years, and from whence vapours might ascend. At all events, she thought it would be a weakness to anticipate evil, and determined to make herself as little uneasy as possible till she could ascertain the real cause of their terror. The innocence and rectitude of her mind, and the high sense she entertained of religion, strengthened her naturally timid mind, and she confided in the supreme goodness of that great and beneficent being, our Creator, who, she felt assured, would not permit any supernatural appearance or evil apparition to injure those who have not committed any B3 crime; B3v 6 crime; she was therefore (with these sentiments) the more astonished at the deep impression the late incidents had made on her sister, who appeared previously to be undaunted and fearless.
While these reflections engaged her thoughts, Mrs. Fane came in her carriage to convey them to her residence, on a visit for two days, and with great good-nature had invited Burton and Courtenay to meet the young ladies at dinner the first day to amuse them. Mrs. Fane’s habitation was an elegant modern building, erected of Portland-stone, with a green smooth lawn in front, commanding a pleasing view of Exeter Cathedral, which seemed to be placed, from the windows, among the verdant trees and meadows.
The house was elegantly furnished according to the direction and taste of her favourite nephew, lord Clairville, whose amiable attention to his excellent aunt did honour to his heart and understanding. Though many unfeeling and coxcombical young B4r 7 young men ridiculed him for it, their ill- natured observations only excited the contempt of the good.
Mrs. Fane was a very fine majestic figure, and had been uncommonly handsome in her youth; herself and two sisters were the daughters of a rich tradesman, who bestowed on his children a very accomplished and superior education. These three sisters possessed no common share of beauty; the two younger married gentlemen of distinction and fortune, and the eldest, who was allowed to be the most beautiful and captivating, espoused viscount Clairville, who was fascinated with her mental and personal perfections. Mrs. Fane had a native elegance of mind and manners, and from having married so young, and early associated with the best society, her address was as polished as her heart was refined, virtuous, and benevolent.
The apartment the young ladies occupied when they dressed for dinner was B4 ornamented B4v 8 ornamented with a portrait of the late lovely lady Clairville, Mrs. Fane’s sister; it was painted by sir Joshua Reynolds; and though the colours, like many of his paintings, were gradually fading away, yet enough of the picture remained to trace how exquisitely lovely and beautiful she had been; her form appeared symmetry itself, and her face as perfect—a fair beauty, like her handsome daughters, whom they had seen twice. The gardens, and every thing belonging to Mrs. Fane’s residence, were specimens of elegant neatness, and her kind attention made the time flow smooth and sweetly.
Miss Herbert was invited to meet them; she was all kindness and affection, and wished them to come the following day to her father’s house. Rose declined this invitation with a sigh, as her parents had desired them not to visit at any other place than Mrs. Fane’s, and once at doctor Wizzle’s, where they had already been. But her amiable hostess conquered these scruples, B5r 9 scruples, by assuring her they would not have the least objection to their visiting anywhere with her, and that she would accompany them to Mr. Herbert’s the next day.
Courtenay appeared quite animated at meeting with Rose again, and evinced the same insinuating softness and fascination of manners which drew the chain that entwined her heart still closer. Rose had no opportunity of speaking privately to him; but when her sister only was near, merely asked if he had written to Scotland, as she knew Jane would not attach any thing of importance to this question.
He replied, that on second thoughts he had considered it would be improper till the fate of sir James Douglas was decided, as it might be judged obtrusive and indelicate, at a period of so much bustle and moment, to mention a subject of that description. Rose acquiesced with this opinion, apparently dictated by strict propriety; indeed, had it been otherwise, her B5 partiality B5v 10 partiality would have influenced her to coincide with his sentiments.
Captain Burton evidently admired Miss Herbert, but received no encouragement from her, which was easily understood by Miss Douglas. Frequently had she heard her friend Mary Herbert declare, that however partial she might be to an amiable man, she would never think of indulging that partiality, unless he was a person of consequence and great fortune. Mary observed, that from having been accustomed to move in the first circles, and to live in the best and most expensive style, she could not for romantic love brook a moderate situation in life.
Rose admitted that she was perfectly right, if such were her ideas of happiness, as she always thought no one should censure another for thinking differently from themselves, as almost every human being had different ideas of felicity. Poor Burton, she was therefore convinced, would be doomed to wear the willow.Mrs. B6r 11
Mrs. Fane conveyed them early the following day to Heath Place, the seat of Miss Herbert’s father. Mr. Herbert was engaged to visit a friend at a considerable distance, therefore they only beheld him for a few minutes; but the little they had seen prepossessed them in his favour; he was remarkably handsome, and had the air of a man of fashion. The residence of Mr. Herbert was an irregular building, charmingly situated on an eminence; originally it contained but few rooms, but different possessors had added to it, and it was now a good-sized house. Never had they seen any situation where the prospects were so picturesque and varied; each apartment commanded a different delightful view.
Miss Herbert’s governess was in the library, and they were introduced to her. The windows of this room looked upon a sweet woodland scene, and they seated themselves here to enjoy the scenery quite opposite to every other prospect. Shelves B6 for B6v 12 for books reached from the ceiling to the floor, and were filled with the most scarce and valuable authors, not only in English, but in French, Italian, and other languages. Mr. Herbert had been ambassador at several foreign courts, and conversed fluently and elegantly in French, Italian, German, and Spanish, and was allowed to be very accomplished.
From the library they proceeded to the drawing-room, which afforded from the windows an extended landscape, wild and rural. But Rose was most pleased with the paintings and portraits that ornamented the walls. One lovely picture of Mary Herbert, as a child, delighted her, and she could not quit it without reluctance, even to look at an interesting portrait of her grandmother, which was most expressive and lovely; and likewise one of her aunt, a celebrated beauty. Mr. Herbert was likewise painted as a handsome youth, as a boy, and at two different periods of his life, when more advanced in years; and these B7r 13 these likenesses were all very attractive. The garden was designed with taste, and in the spring, summer, and autumn, an enchanting spot, as every shrub, tree, and flower that could be procured adorned it, and flowering successively, diffused the most fragrant odours, and bloomed gaily to the eye.
When they were returning home in Mrs. Fane’s carriage, Rose observed, that although she regretted quitting that lady, to whose politeness and goodness they were so much indebted, and the sweet spot where Miss Herbert resided, yet she was anxious to reach Treharne again, as she hoped to find a letter there from her mother.
I shall rejoice with you, said Jane, to hear from Scotland; but I would forego that pleasure, and many others, never to return to that old dismal haunted place.
Do not style it so, replied her sister, till you have convincing proofs that it is the B7v 14 the resort of ghosts. Though alarmed, like yourself, at the appalling sounds which frightened us, it is not from the fear of its being the abode of spirits, but the apprehension that evil-disposed living beings may haunt it. However, let me entreat you to avoid nourishing disagreeable prognostics, and anticipation of harm, as we are going to enter it; for see its grey turrets rising above the trees in venerable grandeur.
They were received by the domestics with cheerful countenances; and while Robin presented her, as she expected, with a letter from her mother, he at the same time assured her, that he had the satisfaction of saying that no cause for terror, or any thing unpleasant, had occurred during their visit to Mrs. Fane.
Rose smiled, and, turning to Jane, exclaimed— I really think those noises we were assailed with near the cellars were caused by cats fighting, and rats, as I have been told they often make very extraordinarydinary B8r 15 dinary sounds; indeed, I have heard them myself utter horrible and offensive cries. We must keep our fright a secret, or we shall be ridiculed and laughed at.
As she pronounced these words, chiefly to remove any uneasiness from her sister’s mind, she hastily tore open her letter, and read it aloud to Jane. Mrs. Douglas informed them, that sir James still continued to linger, and though his recovery was impossible, his disorder was of that nature, that it might be months before the awful event took place. It was a severe disappointment, she continued, to be detained at the Castle of Towie Craigs, in a manner so unforeseen, and required some fortitude to support, as she felt deeply concerned at being separated from her children, more particularly from the hope of returning soon being now very distant. But the pleasing intelligence she had to communicate would compensate, she imagined, to them as it did to her, for every other chagrin. It was the agreeable news, that their B8v 16 their father was in most excellent health; the air of his native hills appeared to have restored his youth. He amused himself with his gun, in climbing the steep ascents, and wandering among the moors, moss- grounds, and dales he had formerly trod; in retracing the scenes of his youthful pleasures, and visiting those acquaintances of his early days that remained in the neighbourhood, he seemed to have forgotten all his cares. His enjoyments, Mrs. Douglas observed, constituted hers, for she had no other; and when the general was absent, she was oppressed with melancholy. The Castle was neglected and dirty, and she had never seen a female countenance of higher rank than a peasant since she entered it. The food was of the coarsest and plainest description, and that scantily supplied, as sir James’s ruling passion influenced him on the verge of the grave, and his old servants, Sandy and Maggie, were governed by the same spirit of economy. Though she ate but little herself, B9r 17 herself, she was delighted to observe the keen relish with which the general partook of his homely fare, his appetite sharpened by straying among the leafless woods, and over the bleak heath-covered wastes. Mrs. Douglas concluded with saying, that she confided in their continuing to pursue the line of conduct the general’s and her affection had pointed out before they left Treharne, and that the goodness of their children would console them for every misfortune and mortification they had experienced through life. Mrs. Douglas added, that if they did not return home as soon as they wished, she hoped they would enjoy their brother’s society and protection very shortly, which would enliven their solitude.
When Rose had finished this letter, she expressed her severe regret at the probable long protracted absence of her beloved parents, in which Jane concurred; and Miss Douglas then began to answer her mother’s letter, and inform her of all that had passed B9v 18 passed in her absence. Her sister and herself were to write alternately; but Rose was to answer the first letter. Jane went into the library to practise and sing to her lute, while her sister was thus engaged. Rose had written nearly half of her letter, and described to her mother the avowal captain Courtenay had made of his attachment, and his first intention of writing to her father for his consent to their union, and that he now thought of delaying the subject till they returned home. Just as she had acknowledged in her letter her predilection for him, which she hoped her mother would approve, her attention was aroused by the opening of the door, and she beheld the form most dear to her enter. Though seldom now absent from her thoughts, he was particularly present at that moment.
I met your sister, said Courtenay, going into the garden, and she informed me you were alone, writing to Scotland. I was rejoiced to hear from her that the general B10r 19 general is so well, but sorry he is detained. Come, put by your writing, as I intend chatting an hour or two with you; and as no post goes from Exeter to-day, you will have time enough to finish your letter to-night or to-morrow. Have you mentioned me in your epistle?
Rose blushed, and, with her natural candour, confessed she had disclosed his proposals and professions of regard.
Courtenay looked rather confused, and his eye fell beneath hers, for Rose innocently gazed at him as she spoke, without observing his agitation. They had never been tête-à-tête before, except when they walked out, and Courtenay remarking the circumstance to her, requested to be allowed to imprint a kiss. Rose did not like to refuse this favour, as she considered herself engaged to him; but when he noticed that he never had an opportunity of enjoying such happiness till now, she replied, with great simplicity, that it was his own fault.“Had B10v 20
Had you wished to salute me, said she, with naïveté, why did you not ask it before Jane, as I do not like to bestow any favour in secret that I would not grant in the presence of my mother and sister. This has been early inculcated to me, and that no man, who truly loves, would require any indulgence a parent would disapprove in their absence.
Your mother is a sensible woman, rejoined Courtenay, but she has, like you, prejudices, from not having seen so much of the world as I have; she cannot consequently be so good a judge of what is correct and consistent with the general opinion of mankind. You cannot love me, if you prefer her advice to mine; you should be guided by your Courtenay, who truly loves you, and has no other object to divert his thoughts from you, or divide his affection. Your mother has a husband and other children to engage her regard, but I have only you—you are the only darling of my imagination.“I cannot B11r 21
I cannot doubt your sincerity, said Rose, perhaps because I wish it; but I think you are in an error, in supposing my mother is not equally interested in my welfare, and mine is the best and most tender of parents.
Believe me, she cannot more sincerely partake of all your enjoyments, nor wrap round her heart more truly your cares, sorrows, and disappointments, which I would cheerfully dissipate, and if possible prevent: but as no man is wise at all times, so neither are all men happy or fortunate at all times; it is not, it is much to be feared, the lot of human nature to be uniform—misery triumphs, and folly takes the lead—But these are grave topics, and unfit for this hour’s consideration; I will continue, therefore, to press further that subject which weighs too often on my mind.
Courtenay then proceeded to speak in the most impassioned tone of love, and to avow that if he did not obtain her, he could not exist. Vehemently agitated, he discoveredcovered B11v 22 covered in the course of this animated conversation a freedom of sentiment and looseness of principle, evidently tending to corrupt the pure character of Rose Douglas in the most designing manner. Her astonishment was so great, that she could not express her surprise at that moment. Though little acquainted with the world, her morality was so steady, and her bias to virtue so naturally great, that she had a horror of every thing tending to vice, well aware of its deformity. To his infinite vexation, Jane interrupted them, for it was his intention to endeavour to more strongly disseminate his vicious notions into her spotless mind, not suspecting the disapprobation Rose inwardly felt.
Jane had left them together two hours, and, pleased with the society of her lover, who interested and amused her when he avoided that subject which was displeasing, she had not heeded the length of time her sister was absent.
A few minutes after Jane entered, Courtenay B12r 23 Courtenay went away, saying he should call to inquire after their health again very soon, and that he had forgotten, when he came in, to deliver a message from lady Morrington. Her ladyship regretted she had not been able to wait on them before, and said that she was determined to make her apologies in person the next morning.
Accordingly, lady Morrington, accompanied by Louise de Rimont, visited them the following day. With a good-nature not very usual with her ladyship, she consented, at their request, for Louise to remain and sleep at Treharne, promising to fetch mademoiselle de Rimont herself the day after, and they warmly expressed their gratitude for this favour.
Robin being sent to the post-office with the letter for Mrs. Douglas, Kamira admitted sir Henry Arundel, who called unexpectedly when the old man was gone. The Esquimaux concluded that he was a permitted visitor; and when the young ladies reprimanded her afterwards for introducingducing B12v 24 ducing any gentleman who was not on an intimate footing at Treharne, as it was contrary to their father’s prohibition, Kamira smiled, and replied, he was so handsome she could not refuse him admittance.
I am sorry to hear that, said Rose, as you may introduce people we do not know, if their persons are attractive—a handsome robber, perhaps.
Oh no, Miss Rose; Kamira see if it is honest persons in a minute; sir Henry look very good.
Sir Henry Arundel entered the drawing-room at Treharne with more than his usual grace; and had not Rose been at that period partial to one very much his inferior, he was exactly the character and appearance that would have touched her heart; he was polished, dignified, sensible, and virtuous: but he despised flattery, which did not please Jane Douglas, who was charmed with adulation, and admired foreigners, because they assailed her with compliments.Louise C1r 25
Louise de Rimont always did sir Henry justice, and generally styled him— Le beau Henri.
The soft incense of flattery was harmony to Jane, and the most exaggerated adulation was not too gross for the delighted weak girl; and Rose always trembled with apprehension for her sister’s happiness, from perceiving her heart would soon be won by any being, however worthless and undeserving, that flattered her. She always repeated, with exultation and vanity, even the most trifling compliments she received. Rose, with the hop of curing her, appeared to place little value on them, and said they were not worth repeating, and certainly insincere, as all flattering things were. Jane, offended, attributed her sister’s observations to envy and jealousy. Rose perceived this, and therefore ceased to admonish her, though her motive was an ardent wish for her felicity, which if Jane allowed to consist in flattering words and attentions, would be illusiveII. C sive C1v 26 sive and transient, as Rose reflected how very fleeting was the season of personal and youthful attraction.
Notwithstanding the imperfections of her temper and disposition, Jane was sometimes sensible of the forbearance and affection of her sister, and would frequently resent any aspersions against her; but she could not conquer her own vanity, or forgive Rose, when she attempted to lessen her conceit and make her more humble. The wounds of self-love are more difficult to heal than any other.
Lady Morrington and sir Henry Arundel left Treharne together, and Rose then began to enjoy the society of her friend Louise. Jane was likewise pleased with her remaining there, as mademoiselle de Rimont was lively and amusing; and they were chatting together by a cheerful fire, when the conversation turned on the merits of captain Burton and his friend Courtenay.
I understand, said Jane, that Burtonton C2r 27 ton has been engaged with an acquaintance who resides at a great distance from Morrington Castle, and that is the reason we have not seen him lately, but Courtenay has frequently called. He admires my sister, and is a particular favourite of hers.
The bloom that tinged the cheeks of Rose at this speech confirmed the truth of what Jane had asserted, and Louise gazed at her with a pensive expression that heightened her blushes.
He is very agreeable, observed Louise, after a pause; very much like my countrymen; but you mention, Miss Jane, that he is a favourite of your sister’s—a favourite, I hope, but not a lover. He is not so treacherous and ungenerous as to have made love, surely, when he is going to be married to the wealthy Miss Manson? He cannot, I think, have dared to be so presumptuous as to address a gentleman’s daughter, when engaged to another beneath her in rank and charms.C2 Rose C2v 28
Rose remained silent, for she could not articulate, and with difficulty breathe. The glow of health on her cheeks vanished, and a snowy paleness succeeded; even from her lips the roseat colour fled. A weight seemed to oppress her heart, while she tried to suppress the drops of anguish that were ready to flow, as she could not endure that Louise and her sister should perceive her weakness, in regretting one so unworthy and deceptious. Feeling herself, however, nearly fainting, she found it impossible to restrain her emotion any longer, and was relieved by a flood of tears.
Now first acquainted, from her own experience, with the perfidy of human kind, she wept in agony. The blow was more severe, from having placed unlimited confidence in his integrity, and disdained the supposed voice of calumny, that had not slandered, but described him as he deserved.
Do not grieve, ma chere amie, cried the C3r 29 the feeling Louise; he is not worthy of your sorrow; his character is too libertine, and incapable of any real attachment. The purity of your disposition could never assimilate with his, and if you had married him, you could not enjoy happiness with a mind so opposite yours; he would soon have deserted you, with all your attractions, and courted novelty in some new face, not half so handsome as your own. The levity of his conduct with lady Morrington is exceedingly improper, if not criminal; and one of the servants has just quitted the house, dishonoured by him, and in a few months will bring a little wretched being into the world, which expence will be difficult for him to pay. Lady Morrington has punished the poor girl by turning her away directly she was informed of the affair, and is most severe against her. She does not blame the greatest culprit, the seducer, but says it is all the girl’s fault, and that she is a C3 bold C3v 30 bold slut, and no doubt tempted him. It is not very probable—a young creature of sixteen.
I am miserable, exclaimed Rose, to have been so much attached to one so undeserving.
Rejoice at your escape from such a monster, instead of lamenting your fate, continued Louise. He is punished by the expence he incurs in consequence of his vices, and is so terribly in debt, that he has no alternative but a rich wife or a prison. I am astonished, with your correct and pure ideas, that you should ever have encouraged him.
He has worn a mask, said Jane, and Rose being of an affectionate nature, was the more attached, as she was daily accustomed to his society. He had frequent opportunities of winning her regard, and making himself pleasing and acceptable; it is not, therefore, wonderful that he should obtain her affection, when C4r 31 when he is universally allowed to be very captivating when he exerts himself to please.
He has wound himself so artfully round my heart, observed Rose, with a dejected air, that it will be an arduous and painful task to erase his image from my memory; but I will rouse all my energies to forget him. His delay in writing to Scotland is now accounted for. Had my father and mother been at home, he would not have ventured to disclose his disgraceful passion, for it is humiliating to be the object of a dishonourable regard. Most artfully he took advantage of their absence, and I was always rather surprised at his never on any occasion writing me a love-letter. Men in general, when they have any attachment, I have remarked, are eager to address the woman they profess to love.
He is too old and artful to send you a billetdoux, replied Louise, from the fear that it should, at a future period, appearC4 pear C4v 32 pear against him. Your candour and inexperience were not a match for the deceitful wary Courtenay, the most designing and cold-hearted man that ever existed. I have been thrown very young on the world, and therefore soon penetrate into the schemes of those wily beings. Exert your fortitude, dearest Rose, and do not injure your health by grieving for the loss of a worthless libertine, who has dared to insult the daughter of a gentleman with his lawless passion, for he must have infamous motives in making love to you when addressing another lady.
It was his being harshly calumniated, said Rose, that first interested me; but I am now sorry I was so much moved in his favour. How difficult it is to judge correctly of any one, and how dangerous to be influenced to think favourably of persons you do not thoroughly know!Chap- C5r 33
Of all the situations in life, the most heart-rending is that moment when we discover that the object we have fondly adorned with rare perfection does not merit that distinguished excellence which we have blindly attributed to the idol of our fancy, and is undeserving of the esteem lavished on it. The confiding unsuspecting mind is then pierced with a deep and rankling wound, that time and religion only can assuage.C5 Thus C5v 34
Thus keenly wounded and depressed with grief, was the aching bosom of Rose Douglas.
Louise and her sister feelingly endeavoured to raise her spirits by lively and entertaining subjects of conversation; and wishing to appear grateful, she pretended to lose the remembrance, in listening to them, of her unprincipled lover. But a little incident that accidentally occurred revived the recollection of him so forcibly, that involuntary tears bathed her pallid cheeks, which her friend and sister pretended to disregard, that they might not increase her anguish.
At that instant the bugle at the side of the river loudly sounded; the splashing of oars in the water followed, and the sonorous bell echoed through the ancient mansion with a heavy solemn sound.
We are going to have some visitor to enliven us, said Jane, laughing; I am truly glad of it; while Rose ran hastily, her sister uttered these words, out of the C6r 35 the room, and up the staircase, to reach her apartment before the hall-door opened. Fearful she might be obliged to make her appearance, she bathed her eyes with cold water, to remove the redness caused by the tears she had shed, and as she was thus engaged, heard the massy portal grate on its rusty hinges.
Rose remained undisturbed for some time, to her great satisfaction, as the traces of affliction were disappearing, and would soon not be easily observed. Gladly would she have continued retired up stairs, but Kamira tapped at the door, and said a gentleman wished to speak with her directly in the drawing-room.
Miss Douglas inquired who it was that was so anxious to see her? but Kamira, not having seen this visitor, could not tell, as Robin had delivered the message for her to convey to his young mistress. Though her curiosity was awakened, she obeyed the summons with a heavy heart. On entering the drawing-room, imagine C6 her C6v 36 her astonishment when the first person that met her eyes was Eustace, standing by the fire, conversing gravely with Jane and Louise.
Hardly could she recognize him, so much was he changed. No longer insolent and haughty, a pensive air was diffused over his meagre face. His form was equally emaciated, and an old shabby blue great-coat hung loosely wrapped about his wasted figure. One arm was supported by a sling, and the other he held out with a smile, to shake hands with Rose, assuming a look of sweetness and good- humour foreign to his nature.
The bugle now sounded again: the absent blood rushed into the pale cheeks of Eustace, and then retreated. He approached Miss Douglas, looked at her, struck his forehead, turned away, and advanced afterwards to her once more. In a hurried convulsed tone, he at length exclaimed— It is not a moment for disguise or delicacy: I fled here for refuge; a poor C7r 37 a poor wandering outcast claims hospitality and shelter for the night at your liberal hands. I am pursued by bailiffs, and if taken, eternally ruined. For God’s sake, caution the servants to conceal that I am sheltered in this house!
Rose answered not, but flew with the rapidity of lightning from the room, with all the feeling humanity she possessed. A fellow-being was in distress: she remembered not, in the impulse of the instant, if it was her friend or enemy, a friend herself to every child of woe.
Happily it was only one of Mrs. Fane’s servants with a note from his mistress to the young ladies.
Rose then repaired to the kitchen, to desire Robin, Kamira, and Dolly, would avoid divulging to any person that a gentleman had arrived that night at Treharne. Miss Douglas informed them he was a persecuted unfortunate friend of her father’s, and being near their residence when pursued by villains, had fled to them C7v 38 them for succour, and she trusted that they would not by any imprudence betray him to destruction.
Rose now ordered them to prepare the secret chamber at the bottom of the turret near the cellars, which it was impossible for any one to discover who was not well acquainted with its situation. As soon as it was ready, and the bedding well aired, she desired them to inform her, and in the meantime to bring some refreshments and wine for the gentleman.
Rose afterwards returned to calm the agitated mind of her guest, and disclosed to him immediately that he had no reasonable motive for alarm. She acquainted him at the same time with the steps she had taken for his entire security, and the preventive measures she had observed with the domestics for his safety, on whose unshaken fidelity she could rely.
You were ever all sweetness and goodness, replied Eustace, and my heart has acknowledged it, though it did not C8r 39 not appear so. I should not have had courage to attempt coming here, if the highest opinion of you did not inhabit my breast. Methought I heard a gentle voice pronounce the benevolent words, no revenge! This consideration made me hazard sheltering myself in your deep retreat from society for a short period, far from the pomps and vanities of this wicked world.
You are not quite a despairing swain, with all your misfortunes, observed Jane; perhaps your afflictions will teach you philosophy, and you will not be so often out of humour as you used to be.
I know I was plaguy sulky and peevish, rejoined Eustace; but it proceeded from reflecting on the approaching loss of my agreeable walks and pleasant chats with you and your sister. I assure you, in truth and sincerity, that any place with you both, and without you, is not the same happy and enviable spot.
I agree with you on that point, Mr. Eustace,” C8v 40 Eustace, said Jane: men are poor wretched creatures without females, whose enchanting society animates the stupid mortals.
The conversation was now interrupted by Robin, with refreshments for their guest, which he very much required, having travelled all that day without food of any description. After partaking of this repast, he appeared strengthened and refreshed, though the wound in his arm was painful. Rose desired to examine it, as she had a healing ointment to apply to slight hurts. It was in defending himself against a robber that he was wounded, though not dangerously. Miss Douglas humanely washed his wound, and then placed on it the mollifying balsam, which cooled and softened the inflamed arm. She then summoned Robin to attend Mr. Eustace to the secret chamber, which she had now appropriated, she told him, solely for his use, to conceal him effectually from observation, and that he might rest in peace, C9r 41 peace, assured of being securely guarded from unpleasant intrusion.
When he was gone, Jane observed to her sister that she was too condescending to that ill-natured man, who had treated her lately with unvarying insolence.— He ought to have been turned from the door, she continued, for his impertinence. I am convinced he is a mass of deceit, and has a mean soul to come cringing and praising (because he is in distress) the woman he before constantly insulted. If he really admired you, as he now pretends, he would have conducted himself better. In adversity he can behave correctly, but depend on it, in prosperity he will be as gross and ill-tempered as ever.
I am of Miss Jane’s opinion, said Louise, and should get rid of him as soon as possible.
I agree with you in thinking his professions quite insincere; but am delighted at having an opportunity of returning good for evil. Perhaps, when he reviews and C9v 42 and reflects on my humane conduct, it may incline him to repent and become more amiable. I am always an advocate for mercy; I would wish my errors to be forgiven, and am in consequence lenient to the failings of others.
Jane and Louise both laughed at her, but this did not prevent Rose from feeling happy at having performed a disinterested good action, which seemed in some degree to console and mitigate other disappointments. Lady Morrington came early for Louise, who had previously made a visit with Jane and her sister to the prisoner Eustace. They supplied him with books, materials for writing, and all they could devise to amuse, recommending him likewise to ascend the turret stairs, and walk about the different rooms the tower contained. From the upper apartments he could discover whoever approached the building, and when any strangers appeared, they advised him then to retreat to his secret asylum. His dejected looks, his sickly C10r 43 sickly and poverty-struck appearance, melted the tender heart of the feeling Rose. Even Jane and Louise, whose bosoms were steeled against him, began to commiserate the unfortunate Eustace, and in compassion for his present sufferings, strove to forget his former haughty insolence. When not walking through the various apartments in the turret, he was engaged in reading, or writing numberless letters on business, which Rose promised to get conveyed for him to the post: but he never quitted that part of the mansion, or ventured beyond the confines of his secure retreat, the friendly turret.
In the afternoon Courtenay arrived. He had watched the return of lady Morrington and mademoiselle de Rimont, and knowing that the coast was now clear at Treharne, he set off for that place with all possible expedition; eager was he to prosecute his designs on the ill-fated unsuspicious Rose, who never would have suspected him. It was the information Louise communicated C10v 44 communicated that opened her eyes for the first time; and but for her friendly warning voice, she might probably have been plunged still deeper in misery.
Courtenay wished to subjugate her to his power, before his intended marriage with Miss Manson, which he flattered himself would not reach Miss Douglas’s ear, as she now lived so retired in consequence of the general’s absence. He had considered that if he was united to a rich woman, who did not interest his feelings, he could with her wealth support magnificently the woman he loved. But obtain her he must, before he married, or it would be impossible, he knew, to gain her, from her rectitude of principle, afterwards.
Most fortunately, as he erroneously thought, when he came to Treharne he found the lovely object of his guilty passion alone in the drawing-room. Jane was gone out to take a walk, Rose being too much indisposed to accompany her. Courtenay entered with a countenance of happiness C11r 45 happiness and animation, and an elastic step, as all his designs were apparently prosperous. However, her serious air, and her eyes red with weeping, as she had indulged her grief in solitude, now her sister was absent, alarmed and damped his spirits.—I am afraid you are not well, he exclaimed, and offered to clasp her in his arms; but she repulsed him indignantly, saying—This is going beyond the bounds of friendship, captain Courtenay.
Friendship! he replied with emotion; that is a cold word. I deceived myself then in supposing you allowed me your love? Did you not own you regarded me well enough to brave adversity? I assure you, my love, you have never been absent from my thoughts, and I wish you to share my fate, good or bad. Repeat what I desire ardently to hear again. Would you not like to have me for your husband?
You do not mean what you say, rejoinedjoined C11v 46 joined Rose; I am too poor to be your wife; you are solicitous to gain a large fortune.
Courtenay started; guilt was in his countenance; he rose from his seat, looked confused, paced the room, and did not answer for several minutes. At length he mildly articulated—How can you talk so?—am I not poor myself?
Then you should never have addressed me, nor artfully won my affection by assiduous attention and professions of regard, when you intended to wed another. I have been too well educated to be your mistress, and disgrace my family. My father and brother are brave and honourable, and would resent your base conduct if they knew it; but no consideration should cause me to endanger their valued lives, or even yours, faithless and cruel as you are.
You are quite a Pamela, said Courtenay, attempting to assume a careless air; but his convulsed face and embarrassed manner C12r 47 manner proved he was quite confounded, with all his assurance. ’Tis false that I am going to be married. Who told you I was? What is the name of the lady?
I shall not divulge who told me; but the name of the lady is Manson, the rich heiress.
It’s false as hell! ejaculated Courtenay, exasperated to fury: blisters on the tongue who said it! I am not going to be married. Do you think I would come and see you if I were?
His manner was so natural as he spoke, that Rose would have doubted the truth of what she had heard, had not the authority been so good; but as it was impossible to doubt, it only made his falsehood appear more glaring.
Once I judged you had more honour than to have done so, replied Rose; but that is past. I have the best testimony for the reality of my assertions, and therefore for both our sakes it is better that we meet no more. I will not deny that I faithfully loved C12v 48 loved you, and my inclination would have influenced me never to have forsaken you. For this reason I wish you well, and shall be tempted to think, if you had not been in such narrow and distressed circumstances, you would have acted more honourably; but that we meet no more I insist, as it can answer no good purpose.
But I will come and see you, if I think proper, said Courtenay, with vehemence; you cannot prevent me.
I shall order the servants never to admit you, if you oblige me to act thus by intruding. Do not force me to such an exposure, for the affianced husband of another shall never be encouraged by me. And with these words she rushed from the room, to conceal the heart-wounding emotion that almost overpowered her.
Rose retreated to her own apartment, and locking herself in, yielded to the piercing anguish that oppressed her. Bitter tears relieved the agonizing sensations that rent her bosom at this final separation from D1r 49 from a man she fondly loved, though she no longer esteemed him. Reason may calm, but has no power to directly remove the first impression and burst of grief at the loss of what we value highly—time must co-operate with reason’s gentle admonitions, to effect a perfect cure.
Rose heard the groom lead out Courtenay’s horses, and his loved voice speaking to the man and Robin. Blinded nearly with her tears, she yet approached the window to take a last look of his beloved form, so fatal to her repose. Hastily she snatched a glance, fearful he might turn his head and see her looking after him; then clasping her hands in agony, she threw herself almost fainting on the bed. She listened to the sound of his horse’s feet as he galloped off, which she would never again hear, and then wept incessantly for an hour.—Alas! she exclaimed, I have lost him for ever! I shall see him no more; or if I do, it will be as the husband of Miss Manson. Vol. II. D When D1v 50
When the first bitterness of her sorrow was insensibly alleviated, and her agonized mind more tranquil, Rose got up, and looking in the glass, was shocked at her appearance. Her head was very giddy; and when she attempted to adjust her hair and dress, her hands trembled so much, that the attempt was not attended with great success.
Jane returned from her walk, and was informed that captain Courtenay had visited Treharne. Not finding her sister below, she sought for her up stairs; and after searching some time, found her in their apartment, looking so ill and woe-begone, that she was struck with deep concern, as the hardest heart must have been softened at the affecting alteration she presented.— How can you be such an idiot, exclaimed Jane, as to mourn that worthless deceitful wretch? You should reflect you have had a fortunate escape in not being either his wife or his victim. Procure a new lover quickly—that is the only way D2r 51 way to effectually console yourself for the loss of the old one. Here is Eustace now, would just have come in proper time, had he not been such a needy creature; he seems to have repented his conduct, and looks so tenderly, and speaks so handsomely of you, that I begin to forgive him for what has passed. I have just been informed by Polly Wizzle, whom I met when I walked out, that he is the next heir to a very large estate; I skilfully drew from her a great deal of intelligence respecting him, as she has not the least suspicion of his being our guest, or any knowledge of what has happened. But really I do not advise you to sport that doleful face to Eustace, unless you mean to cure him of all inclination in your favour. Avoid him to-day, and put on your best looks to visit him to-morrow, and then I think there will be some chance of your being Mrs. Eustace, instead of Mrs. Courtenay. But you must wait first for the old D2 relation’s D2v 52 relation’s death, and you are young enough to wait.
Rose smiled at her good-natured efforts to divert her; but that smile was like a faint gleam of sunshine on a wintry day. She felt, however, grateful for Jane’s endeavour to entertain and prevent her mind from dwelling on the recollection of Courtenay’s disingenuous behaviour. But the remembrance of him to whom she had been tenderly and disinterestedly attached could not be immediately obliterated, notwithstanding all his guilt to her. That heart must be unstable and insipid that can renounce its attachments with unfeeling ease.
When Rose visited Eustace again, Jane was with her, and looked significantly at her sister when she perceived the respectful tenderness with which he accosted her. Depressed as Rose was, she could hardly refrain from laughing when she remembered the ridiculous remarks of Jane respectingspecting D3r 53 specting Eustace. In the course of conversation, he mentioned that when the bailiffs came in pursuit of him, he was at a friend’s near Warwick Castle, who had a fine house with a park and large lake, in which they rowed about frequently. He was enjoying himself very happily, when the disturbers of his felicity arrived, and inquired for him at this pleasant residence. Suspecting from the description they were sheriff’s officers, he desired his friend (to whom he disclosed his situation) to put them on a wrong scent, and set off with the utmost celerity; but with all his precaution was traced by them within a few miles of Treharne. Finding himself in its vicinity, it suddenly occurred to him to ask shelter from the general, not knowing he was absent, as it was a place to which his persecutor could not easily have access.—Be persuaded, Miss Douglas, he continued, that while life is permitted to me, neither you or any branch of your family shall have just cause to repent of the D3 step D3v 54 step you have taken in sheltering me; nor can your parents censure you for being humane. My heart is ready to render you affectionate kindness, and when fortune no longer frowns, my hand will be open to serve you and your family, as far as human means, and a sincere attention to your and their interest, will allow. I shall say no more on the subject at present—guess the rest, and experience shall demonstrate that gratitude has made me what I profess to be, sincerely devoted to you and them.
I have heard that Warwick Castle is a most beautiful place, said Jane; did you see it?
I did, replied Eustace, and admired the entrance to the Castle through a road cut out of the rock, with ivy growing up it. The porter’s lodge is composed of a single tower; in it were shewn, when I was there, a great many curious things that formerly belonged to Guy earl of Warwick. His sword and spear were larger than D4r 55 than any other man could use; I doubt whether his horse’s armour would fit the largest of the cart-horse kind. There was also the tusk of a wild boar which he killed, and the rib of a dun cow, in that day the terror of the country, and twice as big as any one of the common size. The inside of the Castle is large and well furnished. After seeing the Castle, I went to the church, which is called the Warwick Chapel, and has several fine monuments; the one of Richard Beauchamp, of brass gilt and marble, is particularly so. In returning from Warwick, I passed a gentleman’s seat called Guy’s Cliff, where this famous man resided; the stables are cut out of the rock. Half a mile from the road we saw Kenilworth Castle, which is a ruin, one of the finest in England. You recollect, undoubtedly, it was inhabited by the earl of Leicester, who gave a grand entertainment to queen Elizabeth.
I remember reading in some book a very amusing account of it, rejoined Rose; “but D4v 56 but seeing the place itself gives one a better idea of its beauties than any description, however exact.
I should like to attend you and Miss Jane to Warwick Castle, and all the spots I have just mentioned; but cruel destiny sends me far away. I have been advised to go abroad for some time, that I may avoid all danger from creditors till my affairs are arranged.
The advice of your friends is excellent, observed Rose, and I approve your intention of being guided by it. When you feel secure from molestation, in a foreign country, you can then study the best plan for extricating yourself from your difficulties.
It is, however, a painful sensation to be forced to quit one’s native land, replied Eustace, perhaps never to see it again, and every being that is dear to our breasts. Had I not been loaded with care since I came here, I should not have had a frown on my brow, but ate, drank, slept well, D5r 57 well, and had no anxiety, for the society I like always imparts happiness most perfect to me. I never had any real enjoyment of your company before; I only saw you now and then for a short period, and consequently could not be so well acquainted with your dispositions.
Rose and Jane endeavoured to reconcile him to the necessity of quitting England, and, soothed by their representation and kindness, he became less averse to it.
Robin was sent every morning to Exeter with messages, commissions, or letters for Mr. Eustace, and to other places frequently for him, which often quite fatigued the old man.
Eustace had business of moment to settle before the final arrangement of his affairs, and not having money to pay for messengers, which he confessed to Miss Douglas when he borrowed a small sum of her, occasioned much additional trouble as well as expence at Treharne, as a separate table was also provided for him every D5 day. D5v 58 day. He remained a fortnight longer, during which period they declined, on his account, visiting Mrs. Fane, fearful the servants should make any blunder and inadvertently betray him in their absence, as several strange rough-looking men had lately made inquiries after him at their house.
Some days previous to his departure, when his business was nearly settled, he told Rose, before her sister, that his gratitude would never cease, and that if she would condescend to accept his hand and accompany him to a foreign country, he could maintain her there, though not in England. Eustace added, that he would be her servant, till she got another abroad, as he could not take one with them, as nothing is to be told to servants, who, unless old and faithful attendants, are always fond of chatting, which would spoil his plan of retreat from his own country, and the retirement in which he wished for a year or two to live.—I propose this, continued D6r 59 continued Eustace, that you may not doubt the sincerity of my grateful attachment to you; and I only mention it on condition your mother approves my proposals.
Rose must be stark staring mad to think of it, exclaimed Jane; and how can she have my mother’s sentiments on the subject, when you set out so soon?
I dared not hope for success, when I offered myself to Miss Douglas; but I wished, by so doing, to prove I would risk all for her, as a wife in travelling is an encumbrance, though a pleasing one.
I thank you for the compliment you have paid me, replied Rose, but I assure you I have not the least wish to marry at present; and even if I had, I would not be so imprudent as to encumber you with more expence in your embarrassed situation.
If you are disengaged when I return, said Eustace, I shall hope to be favourably received. Miss Jane may D6 laugh D6v 60 laugh and be severe, said Eustace, smiling, but I don’t care a farthing—no, not a farthing rushlight, for all the venom such a little vixen can eject. I love you with the purest love, and if I clearly escape from the ruffians who wished to lay their delectable paws on me, I trust that persecution itself will be weary of tormenting one poor individual. I did intend, continued Eustace, to have purchased some trinket, to present as a little offering of grateful regard, but I have been prevented. It would have been hardly worth your notice, yet knowing the goodness of your heart, I felt you would take the will for the deed, and believe my kind intention, that if more valuable it would be more gratifying to me. It is with pain I touch on the subject; I can therefore say no more now, except that I shall feel like a fish out of water when I leave you, to make use of an inelegant phrase, though it expresses my meaning.
Why did you make promises that you D7r 61 you could not perform? exclaimed Jane, and all this preamble when you had nothing to give. Better to be silent.
For shame, Jane! do not hurt the feelings of Mr. Eustace by such remarks.
Don’t tease yourself, Rose—his feelings are like mine, not easily wounded.
I hope, in some fortunate hour, rejoined Eustace, to stand clear of Miss Jane’s dark insinuations relative to not keeping my promise. All that I have ever said I will fulfil—all my promises I will perform. Did you ever, Miss Jane, hear the following lines against evil speaking? Oh, social beings! honour’d with a tongue, Ne’er use a means so great to ends so wrong; Wise to improve, or innocent to please, With studious caution shun the dire disease; So happiness shall flow from friend to friend, And speech not deviate from its first great end, Which nature, for your general good design’d, Gave as a key t’ unlock the generous mind.
Very good and appropriate, observed Rose; D7v 62 Rose; I wish that every person may be guided by these excellent sentiments.
And now I flatter myself, continued Eustace, smiling, that ill-natured Miss Jane, having heard what I have to say in my defence, will judge more favourably. In a very few years, perhaps months, I shall inherit a large estate from a relation, who is considerably advanced in age, and in a critical state of health, impaired by frequent indispositions. Then, he exclaimed, with apparent enthusiastic ardour, I will prove my gratitude to Miss Douglas, who, though not rich herself, befriended me in the trying season of misfortune, when all had forsaken me—the woman who pretended to love me, friends, relations—all. Here I found a refuge, when no other roof would shelter me. May Heaven grant that the time shall arrive when we separate in life no more!
Rose thanked him for the good opinion he entertained of her, for the confidence he reposed, and also for his intention of returningturning D8r 63 turning threefold the benefits he had received; yet she could not inwardly attach much value or importance to his professions, from having been lately so cruelly deceived in one to whom she attributed every virtue that could adorn the human mind, whose understanding she had respected, whose courage she had admired, and whose good sense she had highly esteemed. Miss Douglas was not eager to believe asseverations made in the moment of calamity, and said but little to his protestations that his entire confidence should be placed in her, and the transactions of his future life reposed wholly in the faithful depository of her friendly bosom. For his own sake she wished he might be sincere, and seriously reform, and if he did evince gratitude, would prove he had some goodness of heart.
Eustace left them late at night, and Rose and her sister were again solitary, with only the servants, in the ancient and extensive mansion at Treharne.Chap D8v 64
I cannot imagine what is the matter with me, said Rose, just before they retired to rest, the night after Eustace quitted Treharne; I feel uncommonly stupid and heavy, and seem to have no energy.
It is caused, replied Jane, by having fretted yourself till you are weak and ill, and I recommend you to yield no longer to despondence.
You cannot reproach me with any weakness to-day, as I have employed every moment, that my mind might not have leisure to dwell on unpleasant retrospection. I must be sensible if I did not occasionally D9r 65 occasionally feel unhappy at so recently discovering that the being I thought possessed perfection was perfidious and inhuman.
We will not enter on that topic now, exclaimed Jane, or we shall be dreaming about the perfidy of mankind; and I wish to go to sleep with a pleasing impression that I may have agreeable dreams.
As Jane spoke, her sister’s eyes imperceptibly closed, and overcome with resistless drowsiness, she hurried off her clothes, and sunk immediately into a profound slumber. Yet her rest was not calm, but frequently disturbed with horrible dreams: sometimes she was carried over tremendous precipices, from which she often fell, and awoke with the shock, but only to sink directly into the same uneasy repose, and dream of encountering robbers and murderers.
The morning was far advanced, and the beams of a winter sun darted its rays through the casements, when Rose awaked again D9v 66 again with a violent pain in her head. She did not know the time, as Kamira always called them at eight, when they had not been up at an unusually late hour; but she was determined to rise now, as she considered it would be of benefit to her headache.—Jane, said she, I am very unwell, and that is the reason, I suppose, I was so dull when I went to sleep.
No answer being returned, Rose put back the curtains of her bed to see if her sister still slept, and perceived that she was risen before her. Concluding from this circumstance, which was quite unusual, that the morning was very far advanced, she hastily arose, and quickly dressing herself, repaired to the breakfast-room. Here she did not, as she expected, find her, and there was no appearance of her having breakfasted, or any preparation for that meal.
Rose now summoned Kamira, and inquired if her sister had breakfasted? The Esquimaux replied in the negative, and that D10r 67 that she was gone, she told her, to take a walk, and desired previously that Miss Douglas might not be disturbed, as she was indisposed. To conceal her surprise was difficult, as Jane never walked so early; but she kept secret her astonishment in her own breast. The day, however, wore away, and Jane did not return; Rose could no longer therefore disguise the uneasiness that oppressed her. The servants were good and faithful, and by confiding her anxiety, which she did, respecting her sister, to them, she hoped to remove it, as they might, by cautiously inquiring, discover where she was.
Robin, who observed how deeply his young lady was agitated, begged her to be calm, at least till night, as Miss Jane would probably return then.—Perhaps she has, said the old man, when she walked out, met with some acquaintance, who has persuaded her to accompany them home.
I will hope it is so, said Rose, “though D10v 68 though a thousand fears assail me, as I think something was given me to drink last night, to make me sleep more than usual; and her desiring me not to be called in the morning has a suspicious appearance.
Ey, sure! cried Dolly, I hope that none of the ghostesses have carried dear Miss Janie off; I was afeard summut terrible was going to be; we did not hear all those noises for nought. Methinks Kamira and I had better walk about and see as how we may light upon finding young Missy.
Rose approved this plan suggested by Dolly, but cautioned her and Kamira not to hint to any person whatever that her sister had clandestinely disappeared, as it would have a strange effect and give occasion for scandal; for detraction is always busy in injuring the reputation of every one on the most trifling foundation.
We will be as still as mice, replied Dolly.“And D11r 69
And me, cried Kamira, me say nothing; me heart-broke, me no find Miss Jane. My poor massee, my poor missee, what they do, they come home, they find no child? and the tears streamed down her cheeks as she spoke.
The ardent feeling and fidelity of Kamira was the greatest consolation Miss Douglas now possessed, and in hers and Dolly’s absence, it is impossible for language to do justice to the racking torture that convulsed her mind. At every noise she ran to the windows or door, elated with the hope of her sister’s return, but only more keenly to feel the disappointment. Her heart palpitated with every sound, and it required the utmost exertion to prevent her spirits from sinking into gloomy despair. She gazed till her eyes ached, on the silver waters of the river, ruffled by the bleak winds that loudly roared, and bowed down the leafless trees, whitened with hoar frost. The faint gleam of the sun was now obscured by D11v 70 by dark clouds; cold and comfortless was the prospect, and a hazy fog began to rise, and diffuse a still greater gloom. The poor birds flew to the drawing-room windows, to peck the crumbs she placed there in winter for them, and the robin and little wren were her constant visitors. When the ground was covered with snow, the blackbird, thrush, and various other feathered inhabitants of the sky, flew to partake of her bounty.
Dolly and Kamira came back at sunset, without any intelligence of Miss Jane, and when the day was quite closed in, Rose found herself more disconsolate and lonely than ever, without her companion, her sister, that she loved. It was a stormy night; showers of hail rattled against the casements and startled her, as she was nervous and feverish from the excessive agitation of spirits she had suffered. Sharp and cutting winds shrilly resounded through the antique structure, and caused strange sounds, reviving the expectation that her sister D12r 71 sister was returned, and thus more acutely depressing her hopes. Neither the servants or Rose retired till a later hour, that they might be ready to receive Miss Jane if she returned: but vainly did they expect her. When her sister entered their room, and looked at the vacant bed, her heart swelled almost to suffocation—the agonies she felt were indescribable. Sometimes she feared that Jane had fallen into the river, and then other images of horror presented themselves, till, exhausted with misery and the deepest affliction, Rose wept herself to sleep.
The next day, Miss Douglas recalled to her remembrance how dull her sister had been for some time, which was (as she then remarked) quite foreign to her natural character. These observations made her apprehensive that her flight was premeditated, and she shuddered lest any unworthy reason should have prompted her to forsake her paternal roof. The uncertainty she was in relative to her sister’s fate D12v 72 fate added a keener sting to the sorrows that pierced her bosom. She likewise recollected Jane’s aversion latterly to the old family mansion, their residence, which appeared as if she had one more agreeable in view.
In the afternoon, as Rose was mournfully seated, reading to divert her sad reflections, Robin entered with a note, which, he said, a countryman had left, and would not wait for an answer. At the sight of her sister’s handwriting, she was ready to faint with joy, as it convinced her she was living. Eagerly she tore it open, anxious to receive some comfort to relieve her agonized mind. Jane mentioned in her letter, that she was concerned to have added to her uneasiness by quitting her secretly, but circumstances of infinite importance had imperatively obliged her to act with apparent want of feeling; that she wished to inform her she was well, and not far off, and if Rose would meet her at twelve the following morning, in the wood at the back of E1r 73 of Treharne, near the rustic seat, she would then impart, for her satisfaction, the events that had occasioned her mysterious conduct.
The affectionate disposition that was peculiar to the character of Miss Douglas made her rejoice at learning that no fatal accident had happened to Jane—she lived, and that was comfort inexpressible; every other sorrow, but that of losing her for ever in this world, could be endured. The servants were told to make no additional search, as she had received intelligence that was satisfactory. Impatiently did she look forward to the moment appointed, though anxiety mingled with the delight of meeting her. Every hour was an age till the time arrived for her repairing to Treharne wood, to meet her lamented sister.
The sun shone brightly, with more than usual splendour, when Rose commenced her walk to the rustic seat. Its golden beams glittered on the evergreens, whose Vol. II. E verdant E1v 74 verdant leaves were unshaken by the piercing blast that whistled through the wood, where luxuriantly flourished the laurel, with large dark berries, the fir-tree, pine, and gloomy yew. The green and variegated holly and mountain-ash, with their scarlet berries, formed a gay and pleasing contrast to the deep green of the bay-tree and ivy. The severity of the cold was unfelt by Rose, who walked very fast, and the silence of the woodland scene was only interrupted by the fluttering of the mistletoe-thrush, who feeds in winter on the white berries of this plant, that grew on the ash and apple-trees with which Treharne wood abounded.
Rose waited a quarter of an hour at the place of rendezvous with agitation and impatience. At last Jane appeared, slowly advancing towards her. Rose burst into tears when they met, and perceived, with grief, Jane’s pale and altered countenance, which betrayed the conflicting passions she had suffered since they parted.“If E2r 75
If I had thought you would have been so foolish, exclaimed Jane, I should have avoided meeting you, and will quit you this instant, if you do not compose yourself.
Rose trembled; she could not for some minutes articulate; but when the painful emotion subsided, and allowed her to speak, she asked Jane the meaning of her removal from her home, and requested, with the most endearing affection, that she would return with her to Treharne.
That is not in my power now, replied Jane, mournfully; I am no longer my own mistress―I am married.
Thank Heaven! cried Rose, with transport. I dreaded something― be not offended; but from the secrecy of your departure, I shuddered lest you were lost to yourself. Think what I have suffered from the fear you had sacrificed your all—your purity of mind; and horror seized me, as the apprehension tortured my breast that you had persuaded to seal E2 your E2v 76 your own misery, for I was convinced much artifice must have been employed to make you act wrong. But why keep your marriage a secret?My husband will not allow me to disclose our union, for some reason, to which I am a stranger. It is too late to retract; I have given myself a master, and I am forced to obey. Oh, Rose! had I followed your advice, which I despised, I should not have been thus miserable. It is Mrs. Pryce that has been my destruction. To divert myself, I weakly embraced every opportunity of going to see her, contrary to your persuasion, and unknown to you and my mother. Her artifice is powerful, and her influence so great, that she gained a forcible ascendancy over me. Two gentlemen were constantly at her cottage when I visited her by appointment; and one of them, colonel Guilford, who was in the meridian of life, paid me the most assiduous and distinguished attention. His flattery was so delicately and judiciouslyly E3r 77 ly applied, that although I did not admire his person, by degrees I got entangled with him in a love affair; yet I would not, though I gave him encouragement, positively engage myself, as I really was not partial to him as a lover. In fact, I should never have noticed colonel Guilford, had he not contrived to flatter my vanity so ingeniously, and with such fascination, that he governed me against my inclination. Time passed, and every thing went on quietly, till by some chance (of which I am ignorant) the colonel gained information of the assiduities and admiration of the count de Fontenai and the marquis de Monclair. I suspect indeed now, that Mrs. Pryce, to whom I imparted all that occurred in confidence, betrayed me, as I had mentioned how much the count and marquis admired me, for it is impossible to imagine any other method by which he could gain this intelligence. In one of our stolen interviews, colonel Guilford repeated what we had heard, E3 and E3v 78 and pretended to be frantic at my encouraging any other admirer, saying he would wash his hands in the blood of that man who dared address me. The colonel added, that if I did not consent to marry him in a few days, he would destroy me, and afterwards blow out his own brains. I was terrified into compliance, and consented to meet him in three days at Mrs. Pryce’s, to listen to what he had further to say on the subject; for I really fancied he loved me to distraction, and would execute his horrible design if I refused his hand. Most unfortunate was the moment when I entered that false woman’s house. I called there again, according to my engagement with Guilford, and found him with his friend, sir George Tracey, and Mrs. Pryce, seated at table. After an early dinner, with an elegant dessert, and a profusion of different costly wines, of which they made me partake, I am of opinion that some intoxicating ingredient was E4r 79 was poured into the wine, for I only, with great persuasion, drank two glasses, yet felt giddy and stupid after drinking them. Sir George and Mrs. Pryce soon after quitted the room, and Guilford then accosted me with the most winning tenderness. When he perceived his arts had taken effect, he mentioned that a clergyman was in the house, and that he had procured a special licence, which would make me his for ever. A heavy stupor enchained my senses, caused by the drug infused into the wine; I was scarcely sensible of what I did, and influenced by terror (as the fear of some horrible catastrophe, if I refused, overwhelmed me), in an evil hour I consented to unite my destiny with colonel Guilford’s. Sir George officiated as my father, and Mrs. Pryce, who was the instigator of this imprudent marriage, witnessed it. Guilford appeared enraptured with my compliance, and apparently adored me, which reconciled me then to my imprudence. We met occasionally E4 at E4v 80 at Mrs. Pryce’s, and he always evinced the most ardent affection. Our union was concealed, on account of a wealthy relation, who wished him to marry a rich lady with a title, and he considered it prudent to keep it a secret till his death, to which measure I assented. A circumstance, however, that would have been interesting, had my parents’ approbation sanctioned my marriage, obliged me to take some step to avoid my situation being known. To my extreme surprise, instead of rejoicing at an event which I have been told is pleasing to most men who are attached to their wives, he was quite out of humour. It was useless for him to be discontented; he had no alternative, and conveyed me, on the morning I was missed, to a small house about ten miles off. Previously, he gave me some opium to put in your wine and water the preceding night. Colonel Guilford soothed me, by promising to wait on you the same day himself, and acquaint you with my E5r 81 my being his wife, while, at the period of this disclosure, he should also solicit your secrecy: but he contrived to delay his intention, and seemed to evade calling on you, which made me very uneasy, and resolve the intelligence should be no more postponed, as suspense on such an occasion might be of serious injury in your delicate state of health; you would perhaps conjecture some dangerous accident had happened, fatal to my life, and I determined to discover all to you.
I wished likewise to ask your advice how to conduct myself respecting my father and mother. Should I acquaint them with my indiscretion in writing, or defer it till they return from Scotland, or keep them in ignorance of my fate? Guilford insists on my marriage being concealed from them; and should he find I have disobeyed him, I tremble at the consequence, from the violence of his temper (too much like my own), which is already depressed and less turbulent, from meeting with a E5 spirit E5v 82 spirit still more untractable. Here Jane sighed, and thus continued:—It is my wish not to irritate him, as I fear his passions vented on me may injure the little unfortunate being that I feel I shall love, and will not, I hope, suffer from the imprudence of its mother. It will always, however, remind me of my imprudent weakness, and want of confidence in you and my parents. I see too plainly now, that acting wrong brings its own punishment. I used to ridicule your preachments, as I styled them; but I regret. I have not been more attentive to your admonitions. But the moments fly too rapidly; I must quit you, though with reluctance, and will by letter inform you how I go on.
Mrs. Pryce is at present detestable to me. From discoveries I have made, it is evident she has gained pecuniary advantages by leading me into the snares Guilford laid for my ruin. I have not time to explain any thing more; it must be deferredferred E6r 83 ferred till we meet again. However, in the meantime, do not be afflicted, as you have no cause for self-reproach, and your sorrows will, I doubt not, terminate happily, and you will rejoice at what you now lament.
Jane ceased her narration, and Rose, who had been almost petrified with concern while she was speaking, now rallied her spirits, that her sister might not perceive how much she was agitated on her account. Having made her promise to write frequently, and acquaint her if she was well and happy, Rose kissed, and then embracing her, attended Jane, now Mrs. Guilford, to the postchaise that waited at the edge of the wood.
Rose gazed at the chaise that conveyed her off till it was no longer discernible, and returned home, lonely, dejected, and unhappy. She felt that her sister had stamped her own misery, by an indiscreet marriage, unapproved by their father and mother, and she was bewildered, in considering how to act in the best manner for E6 hers E6v 84 hers and her parents’ happiness. Yet, melancholy as she was, Rose felt considerable relief at knowing Jane’s real destiny, as no tortures can be so painful as the pangs the mind endures that suffers the torments of suspense, when we picture to ourselves yet greater evils than have truly occurred. Another gleam of comfort was, that Jane had not disgraced her family; she had been imprudent, but not criminal, and her interesting critical situation appeared to have had the fortunate consequence of rendering her more steady, and made her seriously reflect on her misconduct. Rose liked her sister’s vivacity when it was restrained within proper bounds, but when she transgressed them, and wounded the feelings of others thoughtlessly, it often inflicted severe pain, which inclined her to wish that Jane had more sensibility.
When Rose reached the mansion, Mrs. Fane had been there half-an-hour waiting for her. That lady, who had a great deal of penetration, discovered from her altered countenance, E7r 85 countenance, no longer blooming with health and animation, that something very particular had happened to distress her. Hardly dared she ask Rose the cause of her pensive look, from a forebodement that some serious calamity had happened. This lady loved her friend, Mrs. Douglas, with the most sincere affection, and the prospect of any affliction befalling her or any of her family would have caused her the deepest sorrow. Mrs. Fane inquired after Miss Jane Douglas, as she was absent, and the perturbation with which Rose answered that she was well, but not at home, convinced her that all was not right.
Your expressive countenance, my dear Miss Douglas, said Mrs. Fane, addressing her in the benevolent tone of sympathy and pity, is not adapted for disguise, and tells me that some disastrous occurrence has plunged you into anxiety: place confidence in me, and my experience may be of service, while sacred shall be the events you confide.Rose E7v 86
Rose hesitated for a few minutes, as it was not her secret only, but her sister’s; otherwise, from the frankness of her character, she would instantly have disclosed all.
The struggle in her bosom soon, however, terminated, when she reflected how much she at present required a discreet and discerning friend. Without further hesitation, Rose now revealed, with candour and artlessly, her unexpected grief at being deprived so alarmingly of her sister’s society, at a period, too, when the consolation of a companion was most required. Yet this deprivation she could have borne with resignation, had she been assured of her happiness; but she had, alas! reason to fear, that by her want of duty, and desertion of her, she had ascertained her own infelicity.
Mrs. Fane listened to this simple narrative with the softest commiseration, and soothed her wounded feelings by infusing the balm of pleasing expectation, that the whole affair would end better than she had E8r 87 had dared hope. This friendly and discerning lady advised her to defer, till it was inevitable, acquainting the general and Mrs. Douglas with Jane’s elopement. A precipitate avowal of her clandestine marriage, as they were at a distance, would poignantly afflict them, and irritate the general, which would add an additional pang to her mother’s woes. Many alleviating circumstances might intervene before their return to Devonshire; and Mrs. Fane promised, by relating herself to Mrs. Douglas what had passed since her departure, to spare Rose the painful disclosure. This promise made her less miserable, and the agreeable conversation of this amiable woman contributed to compose and enliven her spirits.
Mrs. Fane remained with her three hours, and in that interval, when they ceased speaking on unpleasant subjects, endeavoured successfully to divert her by describing scenes in London, and relating anecdotes of different characters, quite new to E8v 88 to Rose. When that lady left her, she had the satisfaction of perceiving she was cheerful and composed, and pleased with her intention of visiting her in a day or two. The consoling hopes inspired by Mrs. Fane partly restored the native gaiety of Rose Douglas. No trifling cause had power to ruffle the serenity of her temper; naturally cheerful, the even sweetness and vivacity of her disposition diffused delight around, and often animated and infused good-humour and sprightliness into the sullen and morose
The coldness of the night was unfelt, as Rose, seated at work after tea in the library, where a glowing fire brightly blazed, sweetly sung to beguile her thoughts from recurring to any recollection that would disturb the tranquillity enjoyed at this peaceful moment by her innocent mind. Nature seemed to sleep; all was hushed, and not a sound, except the warblings of her own voice, broke on the ear. Transitory, however, was the undisturbed silence of this quiet E9r 89 quiet scene; approaching footsteps dissolved the serene stillness that reigned without interruption.
The door opened, and Robin ushered in a gentleman, whom he announced as the friend of captain Felix Douglas. Though Felix was only an ensign, the servants and country people generally styled him the captain. Miss Douglas rose from her seat, and eagerly advanced to the gentleman, delighted to see any one who was intimate with her brother, and brought intelligence of him so deservedly beloved by her. Robin retired just as she was addressing the stranger with the usual compliments on such an occasion, and requesting him to approach the fire.
The stranger answered not, but stood immovable and irresolute, till the retreating steps of Robin were unheard. Amazement at such unexpected behaviour astonished Rose, but before she had time to recover from the wonder that seized and perplexed her, the stranger hastily threw off E9v 90 off the plaid cloak and fur cap which disguised him, and discovered to her astonished sight the figure of her perfidious lover, Courtenay.
A light wig covered his black hair, and a pair of brown mustachios, painted on his upper lip, disfigured and altered him so effectually, that it was impossible to find out the diguisement immediately. Rose shrieked aloud, but Robin was too far off to hear her, as he was very deaf.
Courtenay clasped her to his bosom, and asked if he had not counterfeited well to deceive her and the old man? adding, that it was a proof how much he loved, to take so much trouble only to see her.
Indignant, Rose struggled to free herself; but he held her fast, notwithstanding all her efforts and remonstrances. Finding that opposition would not move him, Rose now descended to entreaties. Pathetically and with tears, she implored him to release her, and at length gained her point. But Courtenay would not restorestore E10r 91 store her to liberty till he had first insisted on her listening attentively to him. Unmindful of this stipulation, Rose was no sooner released than she flew to the bell, which Courtenay prevented her reaching, being aware of this circumstance.
He instantly uttered the most horrible imprecations, and threatened that the consequence should be seriously fatal if she again made the attempt. Rose submitted, from knowing that the kitchen was at too great a distance for her screams to be audible, and she yielded from necessity.
Courtenay now proceeded, with an eloquence that might have prevailed in a nobler cause, to supplicate her to be his mistress privately. His embarrassed finances, and the debts he had contracted, would not suffer him, he observed, to marry at a period so critical, but that in the course of a twelvemonth his income would be augmented; he could then have the happiness of offering himself and fortune to her, though the ardour of his passion E10v 92 passion would not brook delay till that time, as another might in the interim deprive him of her he only loved. The match that was to have taken place between him and Miss Manson had, he asserted, been broken off, from his superior attachment to her, and he was resolved no consideration should influence him to wed another woman—he was hers and only hers for life, and if she would indulge him by being his, on his own terms, for a short time, he could visit her at her father’s till fortune was his friend, and he could call her his own in the face of the world.
Rose mildly deprecated a proposal she considered as insulting to a female educated in virtuous principles. Finding she persevered in rejecting gently, but with firmness, his vicious propositions, his rage became ungovernable.—Do you think, he cried, with an expression of fury that made her shudder—do you think I will sacrifice all my brilliant prospects for love and you? No! you shall be mine on what terms E11r 93 terms I think proper; and as he thundered out these words, with the countenance of a demon, he struck her several blows so severely, that they appeared as if they would annihilate and crush her slight and fragile form, shaped with unequalled symmetry.
Seeing her shrink from him with horror, he roughly grasped her arms till the coarse pressure bruised them, then seized her hand so tightly, that he grazed the skin, and the blood gushed out. Terrified to agony, and writhing with pain, Rose was quite desperate, as she thought herself in the power of a madman; she now exerted all her strength, and springing suddenly and forcibly from him, reached the bell, which she rang violently, feeling her life endangered.
To hear their young lady ring the bell with such violence was so unusual, that Robin and Kamira were quite frightened, as they remembered a stranger was with her, and had been told stories of robbers introducing E11v 94 introducing themselves into a house with some plausible tale. The faithful Indian would accompany him to the library, to assist in defending her dear Miss Rose, if necessary.
Courtenay gnashed his teeth and grinded them with a ferocious glance when they entered, which gave him a fiend-like look, not resembling any thing human Rose had ever beheld. Inwardly she returned thanks to Heaven, who had rescued her from the power of this barbarian, in whose face, distorted with brutal anger and unmanly vice, she could not trace the soft, smiling, insinuating being who had won her regard.
A moment had scarcely elapsed since the bell loudly sounded, for Robin and Kamira had ran instead of walked from the kitchen, so much did they respect and love Miss Rose, and feel alarmed, from the fear of any harm happening to their excellent young lady. Both servants stood aghast when they perceived captain Courtenaynay, E12r 95 nay, as they knew him notwithstanding his mustachios, and Robin was surprised at finding a gentleman in the library so different from the one he had introduced, and that he had described to Kamira, which filled her with wonder. Miss Douglas desired Kamira to remain in the library, and told Robin to attend captain Courtenay to the hall-door, and then ferry him over the river. With a gloomy, sullen air, Courtenay put the wig in his pocket, placed his fur cap on his head, and throwing on the plaid cloak, walked away without speaking. He was so much disconcerted that he had lost all that artful self-command that generally distinguished him, and made him succeed in his impure wicked designs
When Rose heard Robin return from escorting him to the other side of the river, a weight appeared taken off her mind. She told him to securely fasten every door, and particularly that one at the back of the E12v 96 the house, by which she discovered he had entered. Robin had attributed his coming that way to his being a stranger, and had not entertained the least suspicion; but Miss Douglas cautioned him to be more careful in future, and never suffer any one to enter by that back passage at night. When Robin was dismissed, Rose shewed Kamira the bruises on her arms, which were very painful and frightfully swelled; one hand was very much lacerated and bleeding, to which she made Kamira apply the ointment that had cured the wound Eustace had received in defending himself.
Kamira bathed the bruises with hot vinegar, and as she gently rubbed them, washed the marks of savage violence with the tears of fidelity and real sensibility. The ideas of revenge in which she had been educated mingled with her sorrow for her mistress; anger flashed in her fine black eyes as she ceased to weep.—I should like to dip my hands in his heart’s blood,” F1r 97 blood, she exclaimed; me kill tiger- hearted man if he come here again—me lay him head low, and scalp him.
Ill as Rose felt, she could scarce refrain from smiling, as a word from her made her as gentle as a lamb, though she talked so furiously; for gratitude was the first sentiment that influenced the American Indian’s grateful breast, and to obey her benefactors the chief wish of her ardent soul.—But have I not taught you, Kamira, said Rose, when I instructed you in our religion, that we must forgive our enemies, and do good to those who treat us cruelly? I hope I shall never see captain Courtenay again, but I do not wish to revenge myself on him.
Ah! me remember all about forgive enemies, that very true; but you did not say that Bible told you we was to forgive friends, only enemies. Now captain Courtenay be a friend, he say he love you. No, no, God does not say we forgive friends that’s treacherous, as a serpent in Vol. II. F the F1v 98 the woods—like a rattlesnake. No, no, Miss Rose, Kamira right.
Rose found it impossible to persuade Kamira to think differently, and she ceased to combat her opinions. The appearance of Courtenay, and his unparalleled and unpardonable insults and barbarity, had again disturbed her returning tranquillity: yet amidst all the anguish that oppressed her, she had one gratifying source of consolation, the unshaken rectitude and faithful zeal of her domestics, that no money could bribe—no temptation allure, to betray her to Courtenay by willingly admitting him. Since he had thus artfully intruded himself, she never suffered herself to be alone, as she thought it most prudent to be prepared for the worst events, though she did not anticipate what was alarming.
Again she repeated her caution to Robin, to avoid letting any strangers enter at the back-door after day had closed. She likewise desired him never to introduce any F2r 99 any person he was unacquainted with till he had inquired their name and business, and then, unless Kamira or Dolly was with her, to remain in the apartment till she requested him to go, as Dolly was her companion when Kamira was unavoidably absent.
Kamira was the only person to whom she had resolution to disclose the infamous and brutal conduct of captain Courtenay, and the horror he had inspired her with, as she erroneously thought such treatment degraded her. It was insupportable to her feelings that any one should know she had been so grossly insulted by such unequivocal offers, to make her hateful to herself, and contemptible in the eyes of her friends. She had often heard others censured very illiberally for making disclosures of this description, and unavoidable compulsion only would make her willing to unbosom herself, except to her mother or sister.
Courtenay was indeed a villain, and she F2 wept F2v 100 wept at the reflection that he had ever been valued by her: yet with all his crimes, she wished that his own upbraiding conscience would be his punishment, and that none of her relations might imbrue their hands in his guilty blood. Were she to make his brutality known, she was assured her father or brother would avenge her cause, and the severest sufferings she would rather encounter than be the innocent occasion of risking lives so beloved and precious. Even the laws of her country would protect her, if he presumed to molest her any more, as from the barbarous assault she had personally sustained, she could with justice assert her life was threatened. To add to her horror, he had several times exclaimed, during their last fatal interview—Oh, if I had but an opportunity—if I had but a favourable opportunity of having you completely in my power! The truth was, his vanity flattered itself that so tenderly did she love him that he could never offend beyond forgiveness,giveness, F3r 101 giveness, and that she would pardon the most brutal outrage. But with his understanding, he should have recollected that continual ill usage weakens the strongest attachment, and a constant repetition of offences exhausts the most affectionate disposition, and insensibly produces indifference.
Kamira rubbed Miss Douglas’s bruises till they were better, and her hand soon healed, though the marks of the violent treatment she had suffered remained for a long time, and the deep black, blue, and discoloured bruises looked very disagreeable when her arms were uncovered. The faithful Indian was always inventing something to amuse her: when Miss Rose smiled, she was gay, and if she looked pensive, her dark countenance assumed the same serious expression. Kamira recollected all the dances of her native country, which she often performed now, to the infinite entertainment of Rose, especially when she attempted to teach Dolly to accompanyF3 pany F3v 102 pany her in the same uncouth movements, and which she easily acquired under the tuition of the active Indian. At another time she would sing American songs to divert her, and the following Rose was particularly pleased with:—
Where the tall fir-tree lofty waves,
Where dark green woods abound,
Sweet on its lowly fruitful stalk
Are ripe ground-applesA sweet berry. found.
The dew-berry in verdant shade
Reclines its blushing head,
The partridge, cranberry beside,
The whortle’s purple bed.
Beneath a drooping birch, whose trunk
Wild fragrant flower twine,
The young, the gallant Esquimaux
Did sad in thought recline.
He thinks upon his absent love,
Who dwells yon groves among,
America’s bright dark-ey’d maid,
And thus for her he sung:—
More soft, he cried, than curlew’s down,
Light as its rapid wing,
Like the wood-strawberry thy cheek,
When I thy praises sing.
For thee I’ll climb the mountain rocks,
I’ll pierce the deer so fleet;
His spoils, with rich and sable furs,
I’ll prostrate at thy feet.
The red, the white, the azure bead,
Shall bind thy glossy hair;
Gay plumage on thy brows shall float,
Encircling beauty rare.
How true he lov’d, how nobly fought,
The Indian youths will tell;
With his brave blood he seal’d his faith
For her he lov’d too well.
Soft as the stream which gently glides along,
Bright as the silver sun’s transcendant light,
As artless as the shepherd’s rustic song
Pure as the mountain snow’s unsullied white.
Bless’d is that Pow’r to whose superior care
So fair a pattern for her sex is given;
And doubly bless’d the man ordain’d to share
Her love—the just reward of kind indulgent Heaven.
Though the worthless oppress, and the F4 unfeeling F4v 104 unfeeling wound, the gentle, pure, and guiltless breast, yet will its serenity revive when the soothing recollection occurs, that the injuries and insults they have sustained are unmerited. Miss Douglas reflected with resignation that the past could not be prevented, and it would be unreasonable to grieve for what was now irremediable. Her health was indeed impaired, but her mind was strong and tranquil, as not a shadow of self-reproach disturbed its peace. She was not necessitated to feign illness, when Mrs. Fane called, as she really felt indisposed; otherwise she must have made some excuse for constantly wearing a large shawl to hide her discoloured arms, as long sleeves were not in fashion then. The appearance of the injurious treatment she had suffered would have excited suspicion, and obliged her to explain to that lady the disagreeable occurrence that had shaken her delicate constitution. This she wished to avoid, if possible; she remembered that she had loved F5r 105 loved him, and that tender memorial inclined her generously to be anxious his reputation should not be disgraced.
When Rose was sufficiently recovered to walk in the garden, she requested Kamira would prepare to accompany her, and went up stairs to put on her walking dress. It was severely cold, but she considered that the air and exercise would refresh and strengthen her. They walked briskly till the snow, which had threatened a heavy fall, began to descend very fast, and hurried them towards the house, on account of Rose, who Kamira feared might get cold; had the Indian been alone, she would have preferred remaining in the garden, as she was delighted to walk in the snow. A voice exclaimed, as they were hastening forward—Stop! They turned their heads to look round, at this exclamation, and imagine the consternation of Rose, and indignant fury of Kamira, at beholding Courtenay!F5 At F5v 106
At the sight of her daring persecutor, Miss Douglas was so appalled and thunderstruck that she stood immovable for a minute, the pale statue of woe. But Kamira roused her from her stupor—Fly, Miss Rose! the faithful creature cried— fly! he shall not follow you; I will die first.
Recalled to recollection, Rose fled at these words with all the swiftness her trembling limbs would allow, while Kamira engaged his attention, and prevented his approaching her; but unfortunately, just as she reached her residence, a loose stone came in contact with her foot, and her steps being unsteady, flung her on the ground. The violence of the fall, the exertion of running in her weak state, united with the horror of seeing him, all contributed to deprive her of sense; and when Kamira hastened to raise her up, she discovered Rose had fainted.— My dear mistress, she exclaimed, wringing F6r 107 wringing her hands, you be dead—you be gone where no wicked cruel man torment you more!
Courtenay approached, but the Indian gave him such a violent blow on the stomach that he staggered; the colour fled from his face, and he was obliged to support himself against a tree and take breath. Yet faulty as he was, he had a great deal of courage, and a blow could not intimidate him. When he was recovered, he advanced again, but in a posture of defence, at the moment that Kamira had lifted Rose from the ground.—Curse you! begone! cried the Indian.
Be calm, Kamira, said Courtenay; I am not come now to injure your young lady, but to take leave of her, and beg her forgiveness for my ill conduct, of which I seriously repent, and never will offend, or enter her presence any more after this parting interview. Let me assist you in carrying Miss Douglas into the house.
It was only in defence of those she F6 loved, F6v 108 loved, who demanded her gratitude, and to revenge them, that Kamira’s passions were furious and ungovernable—on every other occasion she was mild and docile: her understanding was naturally good, which made her reflect, that although she possessed great bodily strength, it could not equal Courtenay’s, and she had no offensive weapon to defend Miss Douglas with, which would have put her more on an equality with him. These reflections influenced her to desist from opposing him any more, but she would not permit him to assist her in bearing the insensible Rose into the mansion. As the faithful Kamira bore the inanimate form in her arms to the library, she reflected with deep regret that Robin was absent on a message, and Dolly engaged in a distant part of the house.
Courtenay had followed them to the library, where Kamira placed her lovely burthen on the sofa, and then began weeping and lamenting over her, sometimes in brokenken F7r 109 ken English, and at other moments in the language of her native country. Perceiving that she did not evince any symptoms of returning life, the poor Indian was quite frantic, as she thought her beloved mistress was really dead, and groaned and shrieked in the most dreadful manner. While she thus bemoaned herself, and beat her breast and forehead, instead of endeavouring by any application to restore her senses (from ignorance), Courtenay flew to procure water, and meeting Dolly, who had heard Kamira’s shrieks, obtained some hartshorn also. By the application of the hartshorn and water, Rose gave evident signs of returning animation, and gently sighed. Kamira was now as mad with joy as before wild with sorrow, and they were forced to tell her, her mistress would die, if she was not calm, to make her the least composed. The large shawl which enveloped the beautiful form of Rose Douglas had fallen off, and Courtenay beheld with contrition and shame the discoloured impressionpression F7v 110 pression on her white arms, which was the consequence of his vicious and intemperate passion.
Kamira, now that her dear mistress was nearly recovered, grossly insulted and reviled him, which he supported calmly without resentment, knowing he deserved it. Before she was quite sensible of his being in the room, he retreated into a closet, that the sudden sight of him might not cause her to relapse into insensibility. Previously he entreated Dolly and Kamira to prepare her for speaking to him, as, whatever might be the event, he was resolved to obtain her forgiveness, and would not depart without it. Kamira could not endure to look at him—he was abhorrent to her sight; she thirsted for revenge, and her eyes flashed fire when she gazed at him; yet she had the good sense to submit to what he had proposed, as there was no alternative. When Rose was happily quite restored, and had drank a glass of wine, the Indian mentioned that Courtenay was in F8r 111 in the room, and what he had desired her to say. An involuntary tremor pervaded her whole frame, and before she had power to articulate, Courtenay advanced from his concealment, and threw himself at her feet.
The melancholy expression of his countenance, pale with emotion, and the repentance he evinced, softened her terror. Resentment, therefore, that was never long an inmate of her forgiving bosom, entirely vanished. In a convulsed and faltering voice he implored her pardon for a brutality of behaviour that he could never forgive himself for, which proceeded from excess of fondness and the dread of losing her for ever, that had nearly turned his brain, and in the vehement fury of his passion he had acted like a madman.
Curse your heart! said Kamira, in an angry tone; you say you fond Miss Rose, you use her so ill, and go marry in few days, you perfidy man! Me no tell her, but me know all about you marriage; me F8v 112 me no like make Miss Rose unhappy by tell her.
Do not be in a passion, Kamira, exclaimed Miss Douglas; it afflicts me to hear you pronounce such improper words —it is quite swearing. The greatest affection for me cannot excuse it, and I shall be seriously displeased if you ever repeat them.
Kamira hung down her head abashed, and replied, she would not offend any more
But oh, Courtenay! continued Rose, how can you be so inhuman, so cruel, and insulting, as to intrude on my quiet when you are shortly going to be married? It is unprecedented—it is barbarous.
Courtenay looked affected, insensible and audacious as he generally was. He answered not, but walked to the window, as if looking at the snow, which continued to fall in thick and numerous flakes.— What am I to do? he exclaimed, avertinging F9r 113 ing his face to hide his confusion, what am I to do, Rose, when I am so much in debt? Will you forgive all that has offended you?
I will, on condition that you never enter here again, rejoined Rose: but I need not request that favour, for your own good sense will represent the impropriety of coming to see me after you are married.
You may imagine what I feel, said Courtenay, though I cannot express it. Can I survive the thought of not seeing you? No! I must come, if I am married. I shall remember the happy moments we have enjoyed together: wherever I go, whatever I do, your lovely image will be engraved on my heart.
Those hours are past, replied Rose, never to return; and as she spoke, tears trickled down her blushing cheeks, like the dew-drops on the bosom of the eglantine. You must fly from me—fly for ever.
Oh, Heavens! he exclaimed, it is like separating soul from body.“Linger F9v 114
Linger no longer, Courtenay—let us part now as friends, and for ever. Here is my hand and sincere forgiveness—and take your last farewell.
If I am to bid you, dearest object of my affection, adieu, let me then give you the only evidence that remains of my love and esteem—allow me once more to press those lips I have so frequently had the happiness to touch, and to gaze at those beautiful eyes soon to be hid from me for ever, and that I have often admired for their expressive tenderness.
As he pronounced these words, Courtenay caught her suddenly in his arms, embraced and kissed her; then, without daring to look at her again, hurried away before she had recovered from the emotion his behaviour caused. He was gone with the rapidity of lightning, though the snow fell fast, the wind howled, and showers of hail clattered against the windows.
An involuntary sigh escaped Rose; she had once tenderly loved him with all the enthusiasm F10r 115 enthusiasm of an artless ardent mind, and while she regretted he had proved himself worthless, she yet felt the trial severe that gave him to another. To reconcile herself to her loss, she recalled his endeavours to make her vicious and to corrupt her mind, and that to marry a man with so vile a disposition would be to devote her life to wretchedness. Rose consoled herself with the idea that his union with Miss Manson would protect her from his importunities, as notwithstanding his boasting that he would visit her, she considered that he must value his reputation as a married man too highly to endanger it by shewing her attention, more particularly as his intended wife had great expectations from a wealthy father, who would be displeased if he was attentive to any other woman than his daughter.
These just reflections calmed her perturbed spirits, and enabled her to support with more fortitude than she would otherwise have done the additional tests of virtuetue F10v 116 tue she had yet to encounter. A few days after their last meeting, the Fairfield village-bells rang a loud and merry peal. This cheerful sound was soon accompanied by the addition of a band of music, striking up, at a short distance from Treharne, the most gay and lively tunes. The musicians passed through the valley, and continued to play as they ascended the hills, which had a very pleasing effect.— What can all this merriment and rejoicing be for? said Rose to Kamira. Go, if you please, and ask Dolly, for she generally knows all the news in the neighbourhood, and even as far as Fairfield.
Kamira left the room, and was absent a very long time. At last she returned, but with an altered countenance, as if she had received disagreeable intelligence, and Rose, not observing the alteration, exclaimed— Have you heard, Kamira, the occasion of this unexpected gaiety? It is not usual for us to have music in this retired spot.“Me F11r 117
Me wish me never heard such ugly music, replied Kamira. It cuts Esquimaux’s heart to tell you, but you must know it. It is because of that big monster, that villain Courtenay’s wedding, that they make that noise. You tell me no curse any body, but though I no speak, I curse him in my heart.
Rose turned very pale, and before she could answer, Dolly came into the room quite out of breath, so eager was she to speak.—Only to think, Miss Rose! said she, I have seen one of lord Morrington’s footmen, and he had got such a beauty of a large bridecake, all covered with sugar, as white as the driven snow, which he brought from Exeter; and he says there’s to be two more, still bigger, to be cut up, and sent to all captain Courtenay’s friends. I dares to say as how you will have a large bit sent you. I am sure he ought, as he has been here visiting so much. He was married early this morning, and it was such a grand wedding! F11v 118 wedding! and there’s to be a great company to dinner at lord Morrington’s. It is a fine day for them. Happy is the bride that the sun shines on, as the saying is.
Dolly might have talked for ever without any interruption from Miss Douglas, who was too much overcome with painful emotion to converse. Though she was prepared for this event, she did not meet it with the tranquillity she had hoped. The shock, though softened, was severe. Wicked as he was, she had once truly loved him, as an amiable character, for his vices were veiled from her. Successful in his villany, fortune now smiled on him, and overwhelmed her with its frowns. Even her sister, to whom she could have confided her feelings, and been consoled by her, was absent and unhappy, as every letter she received informed her; and in one of them she appeared so discontented with her present situation, that she advised Rose never to marry. The reflection, that she did not deserve the acrid draught F12r 119 draught Courtenay had made her drink alone sweetened its bitterness. The account of his marriage, though expected, renewed all the cruel sensations she had banished, and, agonized, she knelt down and prayed to Heaven to be enabled to sustain, with more calmness, the anguish that oppressed her.
Her mind became gradually serene after this fervid and pious address to the supreme and beneficent Being, who, if they are deserted by every earthly friend, never forsakes the victims of sorrow that confide in him. The gloom that depressed Rose dispersed: she recollected that her sorrows were unmixed with guilt, and though now dejected and unhappy, they would be transient, because her conscience was clear—while it remained unspotted, she could endure adversity and injustice with courage and resignation. A sigh sometimes heaved her pure bosom, and a tear would fall; yet she exerted herself to support her calamities with patience and humility. F12v 120 humility. The keenest disappointments are soothed and mitigated by patience, which enables us to cheerfully submit to our misfortunes, and by resignation lessens them. To the benevolent Creator of the universe she daily addressed her prayers, who watches over us with parental care, and causes every turbulent emotion to cease. Thus, she regained her natural vivacity and contentment, and supporting with composure this difficult trial, was prepared for every vicissitude she might experience. Constant employment likewise assisted to divert her thoughts from pensive inquietude.
A few days after Courtenay’s nuptials had taken place, Rose had received a letter from, Louise de Rimont, saying she had not been to visit her and her sister, as it would have pained her to impart the news of the approaching marriage. She was undecided how to act, and feared, if she came, and concealed the painful circumstances, they might accuse her of duplicity;plicity; G1r 121 plicity; but now that the event must be known to them, she was anxious to visit Treharne, as they were to quit the Castle in a few days; but her ladyship, who had been very ill-humoured ever since Courtenay’s wedding, would not allow her to come, to her great chagrin.—However, continued Louise, one consoling idea reconciles me to quitting the country without seeing you, which is, that we are to return to Morrington very early in the spring, when I hope to meet you very often. The general and Mrs. Douglas will, I flatter myself, be returned by that time, and Mrs. Douglas is so great a favourite of her ladyship’s, that she can easily persuade her to let us frequently see each other.
Rose directly answered this letter, and regretted in her epistle that she had not seen her friend before her departure. She was concerned that Louise had staid away, that she might not witness her sufferings at the intelligence of the union Vol. II. G that G1v 122 that was to be celebrated at the Castle. The consciousness that she had not merited Courtenay’s deception and perfidiousness had strengthened her to support his base desertion with more fortitude than she imagined she possessed. But, on this heart-wounding subject, she should in future be for ever silent, and requested Louise would never again mention his name to her. Rose added, that she should now look eagerly forward to spring, as it was to restore her to her agreeable society.
As Rose was writing, she reflected on the consolations friendship offered, and how soothing was its balm. Our deepest sorrows seem to lose their sting when communicated to a faithful friend.
Peace was once more an inmate at Treharne, and tranquillity reigned undisturbed. Mrs. Fane continued her kind and friendly visits, which were always pleasing to Miss Douglas, who revered and esteemed her. This lady had made various inquiries respecting colonel Guilford, but G2r 123 but had not yet been able to obtain any satisfactory information relative to him or his connexions.
Jane had lately made her sister one visit, and sympathized in all the vexations that afflicted her, and from which she was at present recovered. To visit her in return, Mrs. Guilford did not solicit her sister, as she confessed she had discovered another trait of an unpleasant nature in her husband’s character, which was extreme parsimony in every thing that related to those who lived with him, though often extravagant in what contributed to his gratification solely. Visitors of any description at his house he did not approve, as he considered them too expensive. Jane looked melancholy, and apparently mournfully, repented the step she had taken in estranging herself from her paternal mansion. To see her sighing for a home she once contemned and ridiculed, assisted to make Rose resigned to her lot, G2 and G2v 124 and never to repine at whatever might be destined for her to endure.
Miss Herbert, who had been at Bath, was now returned. She told Rose that she thought the town magnificently handsome, and the country around beautiful. Altogether she liked the place very much, and if place alone was necessary to happiness, she considered it would be an enchanting residence; but she confessed she did not like any large town but London, nor did she think the air pure. Miss Herbert added, that she was with her father at a boarding-house, which was quite new and pleasant to her, as the boarders only met at dinner, and she was entertained beyond expression. Before she left Bath, their number was reduced to a Scotch doctor, with a cunning face and excellent temper, and his wife, a fat, broad, comic, good-natured woman. Their droll stories almost killed her with laughing, and she thought Rose would be much amused with the novelty of a boarding-house.Rose G3r 125
Rose said she should like it of all things, and Miss Herbert observed, that when she went to Bath again she would ask the general and Mrs. Douglas to allow Rose to accompany her. This proposal was very pleasing and flattering, and she expressed her gratitude to Mary Herbert for her kind intention. Mary likewise brought intelligence of the departure of the Morrington family for the metropolis. She did not express any surprise at Jane’s absence, as there was nothing uncommon in her going on a visit; yet she lamented the dulness her friend Rose must feel at being left alone in that great house.
Rose particularly admired, in such a lovely girl as Mary Herbert, her indifference to her own beauty. She had a tame pigeon, of which she was exceedingly fond, and was caressing it one day, as she stood with Miss Douglas on the mount in the garden at Treharne, from whence they could be seen by any one passing by. Some ladies and gentlemen on horsebackG3 back G3v 126 back rode near at that instant, and, attracted by the striking loveliness of Mary, exclaimed—What a pretty creature! for she looked the emblem of innoncence with the white pigeon.
Instead of thinking it was herself that was the object of admiration, as many vain persons would have done, she supposed it was a compliment to her favourite, and turning with an animated face to Rose, that made her beauty more dazzling, said, in a voice of delight—You see how my pigeon is admired.
This unaffected unconsciousness of her charms quite pleased Miss Douglas, and made her appear, in her opinion, still more beautiful, as, although she knew she was handsome, she was indifferent about it, and placed no value on her personal attractions.
Rose had one unspeakable source of satisfaction, as every letter she received from Scotland informed her of the improved health of both her parents. The air G4r 127 air was so pure, though cold, at the residence of sir James Douglas, that, notwithstanding the anxiety Mrs. Douglas suffered at being separated from her children, her health was much amended.
Sir James continued in the same state, but was grown very fond of his brother, to whom he had already made several handsome presents. He talked, if he recovered, of having his nieces on a visit to Towie Craigs, as well as his brother and wife.
Mrs. Douglas observed, that this dreary habitation would then become most cheerful to her. If enlivened by the presence of the dear objects of her maternal affection, it was of little consequence to her where she lived, while those she loved were with her.
The pleasure of seeing Mary Herbert was, one morning when she called, seriously damped by hearing she was going to London, and came then to take leave of her friend Rose. To console her for the deprivation of her society, she promisedG4 mised G4v 128 mised to write frequently, and Rose, who was very partial to painting likenesses and drawing, took a sketch of her, and drew Mary, in the character of Innocence, with a lamb. The resemblance was striking, and the picture looked so lovely and artless, that they were both pleased with it.—I hope, my loved Mary, said Rose, that you will ever retain that interesting artlessness of disposition I so much admire. I tremble for fear the world should alter it, as you are now going to be introduced, for the first time, into its intoxicating vortex of pleasures. You smile at my apprehension of danger, but it is my mother who has infused this dread into my mind. She has told me, that she has often known characters, who appeared perfectly amiable, quite corrupted by mixing in society, where, amidst a variety of beings, an unamiable one has gained an improper influence over the artless disposition unacquainted with mankind, and caused them to imbibe their sentiments, till G5r 129 till the original character was lost and could not be traced.
They must have little stability who can alter thus, replied Mary: but I shall never change—I shall always love you with the truest affection.
It would make me very miserable if you did forget me, said Rose, as constancy in every thing is my motto. I am not easily captivated, but when once I take a liking to a person, I am attached to them for ever, unless they use me very ill indeed. But I am older than you, and my character is therefore more fixed.
Trust to my regard, Mary rejoined; and with an affectionate embrace they parted.
Spring now returned with all its verdant charms, and the health and spirits of Rose appeared to revive with this delightful season. Though she saw but few people, yet all she did see congratulated her on her improved looks. Mrs. Fane felt infinite satisfaction at beholding her again blooming with the brilliant lustre of beauty that used to distinguish her, before affliction robbed her cheek of its roseate tint. All the early flowers disclosed their gay blossoms, and the fragrant hawthorn perfumed the air with its snowy bloom. Many trees and shrubs were attired in their robes of green; and the Siberian crab, the peach, almond, and apple-tree G6r 131 apple-tree, put forth their red, white, and pink blossoms.
Rose watched the industrious bee, as it sipped the honeyed sweetness from the odoriferous blooming plants, and listened to their drowsy hum as they frolicked from flower to flower with busy wing.
The mild warmth in the middle of the day allowed her to visit her hermitage, and remain there a short time, while she tied up nosegays to diffuse fragrance, and ornament the drawing-room and library.
In the hermitage she likewise kept some greenhouse plants, as the situation was warm and sheltered; and in the grove near it she was entertained by the warbling of various tuneful birds, who sung harmoniously among the trees. The cheerful note of the cuckoo often broke on the ear, and told that summer was approaching.
Since the loss of her sister and companion, Rose had made Kamira sleep constantlyG6 stantly G6v 132 stantly in her apartment, where they had been undisturbed, till one night soon after she received her mother’s last letter. It was midnight, and the gloomy stillness that always reigns then was interrupted by the same loud noises and confused voices that had before banished rest. The heavy trampling of horses as formerly was also heard; but the sound soon died away. Kamira was very much alarmed, but her mistress was perfectly tranquil. Since she had last been disturbed by these nocturnal visitors, Rose had experienced so much real sorrow, that she could not think of making imaginary evils, as nothing seriously dangerous or disagreeable had been the consequence of the noises that molested them. However, she exerted herself to calm the terrors that overwhelmed the Indian, who said, that sometimes when she passed near the cellars in the evening, at the bottom of the tower where Mr. Eustace was concealed, she heard strange and G7r 133 and frightful sounds. It was only from the fear of making her young lady uneasy, that she had not mentioned it till now.
Do not agitate yourself, Kamira, said Miss Douglas; you see how composed I am. To-morrow we will explore and examine the cellars: I am angry with myself for not having thought of it before, and then all this mystery would be explained. In my opinion, it is caused by water-rats, who are very numerous in the lower part of the house; Robin and Dolly have informed me that they walk quite tamely about the kitchen; it is not surprising, when you recollect that we are close to the river, and have a moat on one side.
If there be great many rats, replied Kamira, we hunt them with Ponto, for he kills rats and vermin of all kinds; it will be a good chase—make sport; you like to see it, Miss Rose; me set him on.
Indeed I do not wish to be of your rat- hunting party; but Robin, you, and Dolly, may G7v 134 may amuse yourselves, should we discover a great many, if you like.
Delighted with this permission, Kamira fell fast asleep; Rose soon followed her example, and her slumbers were unruffled as her spotless soul was serene.
From the period of Courtenay’s marriage, her mind had imperceptibly regained its composure. The certainty of one’s fate, however heartrending, is better than being in a state of suspense: when every thing is decided and cannot be revoked, the good and patient disposition will slowly recover its energy. Had he been estimable, the recollection of his worth would have added poignancy to the pang of losing him; but now that she remembered his treachery, his cruelty, the memory of his fascinating manners faded away, and only the recollection of his vices remained. It is true, he had expressed contrition for his savage behaviour, and she had forgiven him; yet it was impossible for her to forget such barbarousbarous G8r 135 barous usage, and she felt grateful that she had escaped the most severe of all misfortunes, a worthless husband. It was happiness to reflect that she was no longer subject to his sudden intrusion and insults, whenever the whim seized him to visit her: protected by his marriage from being the object of his caprice, all her native cheerfulness was restored, and her mind recovered its elasticity.
When night again arrived, which was the time appointed by Rose for visiting the cellars, Kamira eagerly reminded her of her promise. Miss Douglas told the Indian to procure a lanthorn, and place a candle in it, as the damp of the unexplored vaults might extinguish the light. Kamira soon returned with the lanthorn, and they proceeded to that part of the building Eustace had inhabited. They descended some old broken stone steps near the tower, at the bottom of which was a worm-eaten wooden door. This had never been opened since the general’s residence at Treharne Hall, G8v 136 Hall, as they made use of some large convenient cellars, situated on the opposite side of the mansion, near the kitchens. Rose lifted a rusty latch, and pushing it with her utmost strength, the door gave way, and they entered a cellar, filled with ancient implements and weapons of war; two suits of armour, corroded with rust, lay on the ground, near ensigns-armorial of the Treharne family; and in one corner, in a heap, were deposited broken swords, old guns, and pikes.
They appeared formerly to think more of fighting than drinking, by the contents of this cellar, observed Rose, as here are neither casks, barrels, or bottles, to hold liquor.
Me suppose we shall see them further on, replied Kamira, for there is a low door opposite.
They went forward, and attempted to unclose it; but it resisted their efforts. Kamira now exerted every nerve to succeed, and pushing forcibly against it, assisted by Rose, G9r 137 Rose, it fell off its hinges to the floor with a tremendous crash. They were quite startled, and breathless with the exertion for some minutes. On examining the door, they discovered that it had been propped behind with some heavy lumber, being quite worn off its hinges, and without a fastening. This vault was small, and empty of every thing except a sailor’s jacket, quite new, and a straw hat, such as seamen wear.
I am quite surprised, exclaimed Rose, at finding the door secured withinside, and a modern jacket and hat lying on the ground; it is very mysterious: but let us go on, if we can discover any method of proceeding, though I perceive no outlet in this place.
Kamira looked cautiously round, and being very quicksighted, advanced to some rubbish piled up, and removing it hastily, a trapdoor met their view. They raised it with ease, and discovered half-a-dozen stairs, which they stepped down, and found they G9v 138 they conducted to a long narrow passage, which bore evident traces of people having passed lately through, from several trifles dropped by the way. It was so low in several places, that they were obliged to creep on their hands and knees. They conjectured that it extended very far, as they were quite fatigued when they reached the end, and would not have continued to advanced, had not a glimmering light at the extremity tempted them to go on.
The passage likewise grew gradually wider as they approached the latter part, allowed them to walk upright, till they gained a door half open. They peeped through, as it was ajar, and to their inexpressible astonishment beheld a solid marble table, on which a lamp was placed, that disclosed to their amazed sight a large cavern, the extent of which the faint light of the lamp did not permit them to see. All was still and silent as the deep recesses of a tomb; and as they neither saw or heard the footstep or voice of a living creature, G10r 139 creature, curiosity enticed them to go forward, and trembling they entered the cavern. The sides and top of this cave appeared composed of rock and grey slate; part of it was covered with short fine moss, and seemed very dry; yet that side where the table stood, and was evidently inhabited, was lined with matting of a very thick texture. In one corner was a screen, which they removed, and found it concealed a small bedchamber, scooped out of the rock, and furnished with every comfort, as if a person of a superior description slept in it.
In a distant part of the cave they observed three doors, which they were preparing to unclose one after the other, when a loud whistle, followed by the discharge of a gun very near, terrified them so much, that they instantly desisted, and retreated to the passage. They gently shut the door they had found open after them, and returned back much quicker than they advanced towards the cave. Overcome with G10v 140 with terror, they darted through the two cellars, rather than walked, and after fastening the door at the bottom of the stairs as well as they could, they eagerly ascended the broken staircase, and felt relieved from the fear that agonized them. Their terrors were softened, yet they could not feel in perfect security, as they were convinced that the cavern which communicated with Treharne Hall was inhabited. It was consequently a very alarming consideration, that whoever lived in it had it in their power to enter the mansion whenever they judged proper.
The noises we have heard frequently, said Rose to the Indian, are now explained. As the persons who have caused these sounds do not commit any robbery, or injure us in the most trifling degree, I am convinced it is intended to inspire us with the idea of the house being haunted, that every suspicion may be lulled, though it is impossible to guess what may be the motives for such behaviour.“You G11r 141
You should have the cellar-door, Miss Rose, well barricaded up by a carpenter directly, and then the people in the cavern cannot come in when it pleases them.
You shall tell Robin to go for one early to-morrow morning, which will place us more in security from intrusion. I wish my father and mother were returned, that I might consult with them in what manner to act for the best. Perhaps there may be some secret relating to the cavern, connected with our family, of which I am ignorant. At all events, I think it will be most prudent to conceal from Robin and Dolly the discovery we have made, as should they be frightened at hearing that the subterraneous vaults have inhabitants, they may not like to remain with us, and it will be difficult to obtain two servants equally good, and on whose fidelity I could rely; nor should I have courage to remain with only you in this lonely building.
Kamira acquiesced, as she was generally of G11v 142 of the same opinion as Miss Douglas. Robin was dispatched by the first dawn of morning for a carpenter, and by the following night the cellar-door was strongly secured, in such a manner as must take many hours to force an entrance by that inlet. Rose and Kamira felt quite happy at having shut out their nightly intruders, as whoever it was that molested them could not now easily come into the house. They invented a plausible excuse to Robin and Dolly, for having the cellar-door mended and fastened up, and it was not difficult to impose on them, as they were simplicity itself.
A few days after they had discovered the cavern, Rose walked with Kamira to the wood, where she had once met Jane since her marriage. A profusion of wild flowers scented the vernal gale, and the embowering trees sheltered them from the ardent beams of the sun. Many birds were busily engaged constructing their nests, while others, who had completed theirs G12r 143 theirs a long time, and deposited their eggs, were seated on them, to hatch their little progeny. Rose hoped that the boys would not disturb those harmless birds, who did a great deal of good, by feeding on the insects. However, Kamira was quite childish, for she would have pillaged all the nests they met with for the sake of the eggs, having been accustomed in America to go out a bird-nesting; and it was with great difficulty Rose could make her desist.
Followed by Kamira, she had just reached the most distant and retired part of the wood, where the underwood was very thick on each side the path, when they found themselves surrounded by a party of ill-looking men, who roughly seized hold of them. They both shrieked, till a pistol was presented by one of the ruffians, who said, if they screamed again, or spoke, he would shoot them instantly dead. Rose immediately desired Kamira to be silent, and not attempt resistance, as it would answer no purpose. Two men were stationeded G12v 144 ed on each side of them, and rather dragged than led them to the border of Treharne wood. Here the wicket-gate that conducted to the road was ready opened, and a shabby old coach with two horses waiting outside the wood, with the blinds all drawn up.
The men lifted them into the carriage, and then got in after, and thus were they completely secured, with two ruffians to guard them on either side. Kamira gazed anxiously at her mistress, who was opposite, and, unable any longer to resist speaking, turned to the most gentle-looking of the men, and exclaimed—Why you take us away? women do no harm; we no hurt you; we give you great deal money you let us go: wontwon’t you, Miss Rose? you give them money they no make us prisoner?
Hold your jaw, said one of the most ferocious of the ruffians, whose thick, black, bushy eyebrows hung over his eyes, as the other did not answer—D―n you! none of your outlandish palaver! neither you H1r 145 you nor your mistress will come over us with your gibberish.
Poor Kamira, accustomed now for many years to the voice of kindness only, was petrified, and spoke no more. The horses went very fast, and, from the time they were travelling, Rose supposed, as the coach stopped, they had journeyed three or four miles. When the door of the carriage was opened, her surprise was great at finding they were on the sea-beach. Seaweeds were scattered over the sand, thrown up by the foaming billows, and it was apparently a lonely desolate spot. The men did not allow her time to look about; but taking her from the coach, hurried her along between them as before, till they arrived at an old ruinous-looking house, built under a rock, at a short distance from the dreary shore.
As they hastened forward with her, Miss Douglas looked back to see if Kamira was following with the other ruffians, but perceived no appearance of her or the men, Vol. II. H and H1v 146 and concluded she was detained in the coach. On entering the ruinous house, they dragged her hastily up stairs to the first floor, pushed her into a back-room, and then locked her in. This room was lighted by a sky-light, and as she could not discern any thing, she was left to ruminate uninterruptedly on what could be the cause of her being carried off with her servant in this extraordinary manner.
Had Kamira been suffered to accompany her, she would have felt less unhappy; but deprived of her company, she was almost distracted, fearful of any severe calamity happening to her faithful and affectionate attendant, who she knew would be as miserable on her account.
In this melancholy place, Rose remained an hour, unable to refrain from weeping, more from the apprehension of losing her dear Indian, than from her own misfortunes, when a gentle footstep coming up the stairs attracted her attention. The door soon after was unlocked, and a decent- looking H2r 147 looking woman, though very dirty, entered, and dropped a respectful curtsey. Nervous and intimidated, from the terror she had encountered, Rose started, and uttered an exclamation of fear, when the woman came in.
Don’t be scared, Miss, said she, though I can’t wonder at your being so timbersome in this dull room. But I’ve come to put you where you will na be so dismal; and with these words she conducted her into a front room with a bed in it, that faced the sea.
As the woman seemed very talkative, Rose ventured to ask if she had seen any thing of a young woman, her servant?
The woman answered very sharply, that she knew nothing of such a young woman, and going directly out of the room, shut the door violently, and locked it.
Rose perceived she had committed an error in questioning her, who was certainly an accomplice with whoever confined her. The woman’s countenance was H2 the H2v 148 the most expressive of deceit she had ever noticed. Though not an old woman, it was covered with wrinkles, and quite puckered up about the eyes when she smiled, which gave her a very deceitful look. Rose conjectured, that since she was good-natured and respectful on other subjects, this cross-grained behaviour was assumed, to inform her it would be useless to ask questions, and to desist in future.
The sun glittered on the blue-green waves, and she descried a vessel in the offing, from which a boat was sent, and was advancing to the shore. Fishermen’s nets were spread out to dry on the grass near the house, which made her suspect that her present habitation was the residence of fishermen. The beach seemed a very good one for walking, and the sea, opening into the land, formed a commodious sheltered bay. At each extremity of the beach, lofty cliffs and rocks upreared their craggy heads. The white seagullgull H3r 149 gull hovered over the jutting cliffs and crags, and flew backwards and forwards with airy wing across the swelling billows.
When the boat she had seen quitting the vessel approached the shore, the men in it soon after landed, and Rose watched them till they drew near the ruinous house and entered it. Among them she observed the four ruffians who had carried her and Kamira off. The quietness that prevailed throughout this lonesome abode was now vanished. An hour elapsed, and she concluded they had been feasting and drinking, as their voices were raised to the highest point. The brandy and juniper-berry now circulated through their veins, and seemed very operative, as they laughed aloud, and sung, or rather roared out, the most noisy songs.
About six o’clock the woman again visited her, and appeared as if her good- humour had also been heightened by a H3 cheerful H3v 150 cheerful glass. With a low curtsey she said—If it is agreeable, Miss, I will come and drink a cup of tea with you, as you must want some refreshment all these hours. I seldom drinks tea so late, but I have been very busy to-day, as our men have been fishing all this blessed day at t’other part of the coast, and as they wanted their dinner, I’ve been forced to cook it. I keeps no sarvant now. I have had a great many, but they all turned out so bad that I had rather do the work myself. When my husband, master Naylor, is at home, then he will tend and help me a bit, when he is in the humour for it. I always calls him master Naylor, because we’ve two prentice-boys to larn to be fishermen, and if I called him by his Christian name, John, they would be calling him so too, and that would not be respectful; so he always calls me Mrs. Naylor, and I always calls him master Naylor. There’s nothing like pretty behaviour.“You H4r 151
You behave very properly, replied Miss Douglas, who perceived she was one of those kind of women who would talk for ever of herself, and encouraged her therefore to go on, as she was too much out of spirits to converse with any one, even if they were very agreeable.
I wish I had never been married, continued Mrs. Naylor, as she poured out the tea. I had my fortune told when I was single, and the fortuneteller said I was to marry a rich gentleman, but, instead of that, I met with this one. I was happier in sarvice, when I lived with a good lady, a clargyman’s wife, who was so fond of me. She always told me to take care of my teeth, for I had very good teeth then.
You have a fine set now, replied Rose, who could not help thinking what a burlesque it was on vanity to hear this dirty fishwoman talking of herself with egregious conceit. She could not imagine H4 how H4v 152 how any sensible person was ever so weak as to be vain, when this ridiculous woman, without any pretension, and not even clean, entertained such a favourable opinion of herself.
Then you do say I have good teeth now, Miss? rejoined Mrs. Naylor, with a delighted voice (for she wished them all the time to be praised); but I am so hurt, being afraid I shall lose one soon. I had a nice rosy colour too once, and my mistress used to tell me to be careful of the men. My master, though she was such a good lady, went astray with others, and would with me, but I said to him—No, no, sir, my mistress is too good a lady for me to listen to you; I love her too well for that.
I admire your principles, observed Miss Douglas, and you were very right not to betray a good mistress.
Ah, Miss, I was so clean and neat then! I did not carry about fish, as I often do H5r 153 do now and work hard. I was so particular then, I had even my Sunday garters and Sunday pins.
At this speech, Rose mentally said— You are much altered since that time.
Again Mrs. Naylor began the subject of her teeth.—I take great pains with them, Miss; I clean my teeth with soot and all kinds of things, and wash myself thoroughly two or three times in the course of the summer with scented soap, such as ladies use, and rose-water I distil myself.
Rose was astonished to hear a woman, most uncommonly dirty, and in a station exceedingly inferior, boast of using perfumed soap, when she seemed even niggardly of the commonest and cheapest. She was convinced, from this circumstance, she did not speak a word of truth, and detected her very shortly in many other falsehoods, which gave her a vile opinion of her.
When tea was over, Mrs. Naylor appearedH5 peared H5v 154 peared to quit her guest with reluctance, never having before met with any one who listened so patiently to the ebullition of her vanity. When she was gone down stairs, Rose tried to open the window, thinking, when it was quite dark, to escape, when all was hushed at midnight, that way; but, to her disappointment, it was strongly nailed down. She remarked that the house became as quiet after dark as before, and conjectured that the men were gone out.
The wind now began to howl loudly, the night was obscure, and the melancholy roaring of the waves, dashing against the shore, diffused the deepest gloom, while the mournful scream of the sea-birds inspired pensive ideas, and seemed to presage horrible events. Rain poured down in torrents, and the blast blew so strong and loud, that Rose lamented the fate of the poor seamen who were doomed to encounter the pitiless storm. About eleven o’clock, when the tempest raged with redoubleddoubled H6r 155 doubled fury, she heard signal guns fired, as if some ship was in distress, and likely to be wrecked, as from the sound of the fire-arms the vessel was apparently at a short distance from the bay.
Two hours passed away, and at near one o’clock a great bustle and confusion appeared to take place in the house, and she heard many people running up and down stairs. Soon after, Mrs. Naylor came in with clean sheets to put on the bed, saying—Bless your dear soul, Miss! I have been so busy that I quite forgot you till now, begging your pardon.
Rose perceived instantly that she was very much intoxicated, and begged her not to trouble herself to make the bed, as she should only lie down outside, without undressing. In fact, she had an invincible repugnance to repose in such a dirty uncomfortable place, and did not, till quite exhausted, recline on it.
Worn out with anxiety, she fell fast asleep, and slept soundly till it was very H6 late H6v 156 late in the morning, and Mrs. Naylor entered with breakfast. She made many apologies for not coming before, being occupied with getting master Naylor’s and the men’s breakfasts, who were gone out to fish with their nets and fishing-tackle.
It has been a stormy night, said Rose; I am afraid, Mrs. Naylor, some ships have been wrecked, and many poor creatures have suffered—either lost their lives or their property.
We call shipwrecks our harvest, replied Mrs. Naylor: it is an ill wind that blows nobody good. We get many good things by them, and she winked her eye as she spoke, adding—the sea throws up many valuable articles.
Rose was horror-struck, but she said no more, from directly suspecting that Mrs. Naylor and her husband were those description of people that plunder wrecks, and steal the property of the unfortunate beings the waves have spared. Even the lives of those who were shipwrecked, if they H7r 157 they had riches, were often sacrificed by these miscreants for the sake of their money or jewels, and buried in the sand, as she had frequently heard related.
The fury of the tempest was abated, but the weather continued stormy. Sometimes the waves swelled mountains high, and roughly beat against the shore, and dashing to a prodigious height among the rocks, spread their white foam around in snowy showers. Rose enjoyed this dismal scene; it was more in unison with her wounded mind than a glaring sunshine, that, while it cheered the face of nature, would have appeared to mock her woes. Several vessels she perceived at a distance seemed to be struggling with the agitated green billows, and suggested to her feeling heart how many dangers the intrepid sailor has to encounter, consigned frequently, after all his sufferings, to a premature and watery grave.
Mrs. Naylor returned for the tea-things, and began talking immediately of her shape, H7v 158 shape, saying she wished she was as good a figure as Miss Douglas, on purpose that she might praise the symmetry of her form. She was actually very well shaped, had not the slovenliness of her appearance disguised her; and Rose pretended to admire her figure as the best she had ever seen, complimenting her at the same time so highly, that with all her cunning she was quite thrown off her guard. Rose would not have flattered her vanity, had she not been in her power, for she abhorred the shadow of deceit; but on such occasion, when she expected, by praising her, to find means of escaping, she hoped it was excusable.
Intoxicated with the incense of flattery, Mrs. Naylor was reluctant to quit her; she was never tired of hearing herself complimented, nor of being the subject of her own conversation. Inadvertently, as they were conversing, she disclosed that they were alone together in the house, and soon after quitted the room with the tea-tray. Giddy H8r 159 Giddy with the adulation she had received, that flattered her voracious self-love, Mrs. Naylor neglected to lock the door after her. Rose observed this, but waited a quarter of an hour to see if she recollected the circumstance. Finding she did not remember the omission, she considered that this would be an excellent opportunity to try to escape. Rose put on her bonnet and shawl, and gently opening the door, crept down the stairs as softly as possible. She moved with so much gentleness, that Mrs. Naylor did not hear her, though she was standing at the front-door that led to the beach, with her back towards her.
There was no escape that way, but perceiving another door open on the side, Rose stole out, and found herself in a long narrow passage between two rocks, and a large stone rolled at the end. Here she perceived no chance of getting out of danger, and stood ruminated what she should do, H8v 160 do, when suddenly she saw the great stone move, and the men who had waylaid and taken her from the wood advanced from behind it.—Ho! ho! one of these men directly called out—so you want to run away, I suppose? We will make you rest quiet, so come with us; and with these words they dragged her through a door that was behind the stone, which was raised by a mechanical power, though a great weight, yet not so heavy as it appeared.
Rose made no opposition, and they ceased to force her along, while three of them walked first, whom she followed, and one walked behind her. They proceeded onwards among dismal hollow places and dreary dens, only lighted by fissures in the rocks, till they reached an opening which conducted to a cavern, resembling the subterraneous cave near Treharne.
Here she beheld a lady and gentleman seated, in earnest discourse. The lady turned round at the noise of their entrance, frowned, H9r 161 frowned, and looking ferociously at the men, exclaimed—Why did you bring her to this place?
The ruffians replied, in a grumbling tone of voice, that she was going to escape, and knowing no other secret habitation where she would be in security till she was fetched, had conducted her to the cavern—But by good luck, they continued, she will be off for good to-night, and we shall have no more to do with her skittish ladyship.
T’other’s safe enough, cried one of them, grinning.
Rose shuddered at this last speech, as she thought her poor Kamira had resisted and been killed. Nearly fainting at the idea, she glanced at that moment at the lady, as she leaned against the side of the cavern, and discovered, to her extreme astonishment, that this lady was her old acquaintance, Mrs. Pryce. This discovery at first delighted her, as seeing any one she knew, however worthless and disagreeable, revived hope, and might lead, she flattered H9v 162 flattered herself, ultimately to her release from the hands of these terrific ruffians. But these pleasing expectations vanished, when she reflected on her familiarity with such low wicked men. However, though she looked more forbidding and morose than she used to do, Rose summoned courage to address this woman, and asked her to have the goodness to explain why she had been carried off and confined.
You will know to-night, replied Mrs. Price, with a diabolical smile, and you must bridle your curiosity till then. I do not wish to have any thing to say to you: your sister has often told me, added this woman, with a demoniac expression of countenance, that I was not a favourite of yours; you cannot hope, therefore, assistance from a person you disliked, and I assure you there is no love lost between us.
Rose made no answer, as she perceived she was inflexible; and turning to the gentleman, attempted to soften him. She entreated H10r 163 entreated in the most moving accents that he would restore her to liberty, and while she was addressing him, the ruffians retired. A cold shivering apparently shook his frame while she was speaking, his arms were folded, and he then pulled his large hat over his face, to shade it more effectually, that she might not clearly discern his features.
After a silence of a moment, he waved his hand for her to be gone, in a manner expressive of disapprobation. Rose could only distinguish, from the lamp burning in the cavern, that he was fair, and something in the lower part of his face seemed familiar to her. He now rose from his seat, and motioning to his companion, they both left her. Rose remarked that he was very tall, and limped as he walked; a loose cloak enwrapped his majestic figure, and though he did not listen to her with commiseration, there was something in his appearance that interested her against her better judgment. She gazed after him, and H10v 164 and noticed that before he quitted the cavern, he turned round to look at her again.
Rose remained till evening without refreshment in this dismal cavern; she had tried the doors at each outlet, and found them strongly fastened, and could with difficulty avoid giving way to despair. Another tempest, she imagined, had arisen, as the wind whistled through the clefts and chasms in the rocks, and she heard peals of thunder loud and awfully resounding with appalling crash. Nearly sinking into despondency, she trembled for fear the lightning should split the rocks that the cavern was hewn out of, and, buried in the ruins, her fate become for ever unknown to her beloved relations—no parent’s tear bedew her humble grave, or affectionate brother mourn a sister that tenderly loved him. She might even, she reflected, innocent as she was, be condemned, and her flight considered as voluntary. While these reflections occupied her mind, anxiety and want of food for so many H11r 165 many hours made her extremely ill. She felt sick and was nearly fainting, when one of the doors unexpectedly opened. The fresh air admitted by the door revived her, and she beheld the most good-natured looking of the men who had carried her off enter.
He placed his finger on his lip, as a sign for her to be silent, and approaching near, whispered to her—If you will solemnly swear never to divulge what has passed to any person whatsoever, nor disclose the secret of the cavern near Treharne Hall, you have discovered, I will restore you safe to your home. But mind, first religiously swear you will not betray me—swear, and you shall be rescued from further horrors now awaiting if you remain, and I will release you directly.
Glad to escape on any terms, Rose took the oath he required, and then requested him to give her, if he could, some slight refreshment, as she was quite exhausted. The man took some bread, cheese, and a bottle H11v 166 bottle of beer, out of a cupboard in the cavern, and having eat and drank a little, she was quite refreshed. The man now desired her to follow him; they went down the passage by which she had entered the cavern a little distance, then turning up on the left side, it conducted them into an extensive hollow recess, scooped, like the cavern, out of the solid rock.
But language is weak to portray the harrowed sensations of horror and terror that overwhelmed the ill-fated Rose, when shuddering she beheld the stiffened murdered corse of some unfortunate foreigner, extended on the ground! By his dress he appeared to be a Moor or Turk; his turban had fallen off, and revealed to her horrorstruck sight many deep and bloody gashes on his head, which, contrasted with the pale hue of death his face displayed, looked so ghastly and dreadful, that all her fortitude now utterly forsook her at this grim sanguinary spectacle. Supposing, with probability, that she was conducted here to fall H12r 167 fall another victim by the murderous arm of her companion, she gave one piercing shriek, and fell insensible beside the bloodstained body of the breathless stranger.
When Rose recovered from her swoon, she found herself on the ground, and her head supported by the man whom she had unjustly suspected of intending her destruction. The pale horrible form of the murdered foreigner had disappeared, and she was almost tempted to fancy that the shocking sight she had witnessed was a delusive dream. Her companion said nothing respecting the mangled corse, but told her there H12v 168 there was no time to be lost, if she wished to leave this dreary abode. She must instantly, he added, exert herself, if she desired to quit her prison, and pointed, as he hastily spoke, to some steps cut in the stony sides of this recess, by which they could ascend to the top. All her courage now returned, from eagerness to get out of this den of murder and desolation. Supported by the man, she quickly mounted the steps, and on reaching the roof of this hollow recess, her companion lifted a trapdoor, and led her from it into a small woody copse. He threw some brambles over the opening through which they had passed, and conducted her a few yards to where a horse was tied to a tree. The man untied the horse, and mounting her, in silence, behind him, rode off with great speed till they arrived at Treharne Wood.
He now dismounted, assisted her to alight, and fastening his horse to the paling, attended her on foot through the wood, where she easily traced vestiges of the violentlent I1r 169 lent storm. Some of the trees were torn up by the roots, and broken branches strewed the ground, which was so soft and wet, that her shoes were quite soaked with the damp; and it was so slippery that she would have several times fallen down, had she not held by the strong arm of her companion. When they had got clear of the wood, the man proceeded with her to the river side, and loudly sounded the bugle for her.—I leave you now in safety, young lady, said he; but remember the oath you have taken as sacred. If you are false to what you have sworn, the consequence will be fatal, not only to yourself but all your family.
Rose offered him money, which he refused, and promised to be faithful and secret to what he had made her swear. When she had repeated this, the man was gone in an instant, with such rapidity, that when she looked round directly after, she could not perceive him.Vol. II. I No I1v 170
No lights appeared in any part of the house; all was dark and gloomy, and she began to be very impatient, as she was weary and wet, at not perceiving any person make their appearance, it being some time since she announced her arrival by the usual signal. Again she sounded the bugle with her utmost force, which might have been heard at a great distance, and soon after one of the first floor windows cautiously opened, and three heads looked out together. Imagine her joy when she distinguished the voice of her faithful Kamira speaking to Robin, who directly after asked Miss Douglas what she wanted. Eagerly she informed them who she was, though the tone of her voice would have been sufficient to declare that it was their dear young lady. Immediately after she could hear Kamira, in delighted accents expressing her pleasure, and sooner than she could have expected, Robin and the Indian had brought the boat to the bankside,side, I2r 171 side, and quickly conducted her to her beloved home, which she valued the more from having been rudely torn from it.
But the gladness that exhilarated the heart of Kamira, and was felt by the other servants at the restoration of their mistress, was abated as they observed how alarmingly ill she looked. When they expressed their sorrow, she requested them not to be uneasy, as she should, she hoped, very shortly recover her health, now that she was inexpressibly happy at reaching Treharne in safety, and having so unexpectedly restored to her her valuable attendant. Rose now desired them to prepare tea, and while she was waiting for it, could not avoid reflecting that it is only by the privation of our comforts that we are sensible of their real value. Never would she have enjoyed so much, she was convinced, the cleanliness of every thing that surrounded her, had she not been confined in the dirty residence of Mrs. Naylor.
When Rose was left alone with KamiraI2 ra, I2v 172 ra, she requested to be acquainted with the circumstances of her escape from the power of the ruffians. Kamira replied, that directly after they had conveyed her mistress to the ruinous house, they took her from the carriage, and leading her to the sea-side, placed her in a boat, which rowed to a vessel at anchor, where they carried her on board. As evening advanced, the vessel approached the shore, and when it was quite night, anchored very near the land. All day they detained Kamira below deck, and during the storm which raged so furiously; but when the tempest was in some degree lulled, she entreated them to let her go on deck for a little fresh air, as she felt very ill, from being confined so many hours in a small cabin. Elevated with the liquor they had been plentifully drinking, they were in tolerable good-humour, and granted her request. A thought had suggested itself to her mind when she asked this favour, that made her hope to effectually escape. She I3r 173 She could swim exceedingly well, having been accustomed from her earliest youth to practise swimming, which made her resolve, if she had an opportunity, to throw herself overboard, and by this means gain the shore.
Soon after Kamira got on deck, the crew went again below to supper, leaving only a lad on deck, who was seated on the floor, and was dozing as he sat. A strong rope was fastened to the side of the ship, which she noticed with satisfaction. The boy in a short interval fell fast asleep, and the men were merrily carousing, when Kamira gently pulled off her upper garments, that they might not incumber her in the design she meditated. Throwing them into the water, she now let herself down into the sea by the rope, and in a few minutes swam safely to land. that a woman could swim was unsuspected by these wretches, which had thrown them completely off their guard. Kamira now walked with the greatest expedition up the I3 road I3v 174 road that led from the desolate beach, drenched with rain, and almost beat down with the wind, as the storm commenced again with redoubled fury. She was nearly undressed, and the few clothes she had on were wet with the salt-water; but she heeded not the raging tempest, nor her uncomfortable state, from the rapture she felt at being freed from the clutches of the monsters who had made her a prisoner.
About a mile from the coast she was overtaken by a countryman, who pitied her, when she told him she had been robbed and stripped by thieves. He was going near Treharne, and humanely offered her shelter in his covered cart. Having conveyed her within a few yards of the house, he drove off, and Kamira reached the Hall in security. Old Robin and Dolly were enraptured at the sight of her, being unable to guess the cause of their having disappeared; he was afraid to quit the mansion with only Dolly in it, or to inform Miss Douglas’s friends of what had happened, I4r 175 happened, as he was ignorant, till Kamira’s return, whether their absence was voluntary or otherwise. Mrs. Fane had called on the day of their unwilling departure to the sea-side, and being told that Miss Douglas was gone to take a walk, would not come in, but left a kind message for her; and no other visitors had been since.
Rose now entreated that Robin, Kamira, and Dolly, would preserve an inviolable secrecy respecting all that had occurred these three last days; urgent reasons, she told them, obliged her to solicit them to be silent on the subject, as it was not only her own life that would be endangered, if the events that had lately taken place were known publicly. They all promised to faithfully retain the secret, in consideration of their own safety, as well as hers, though they were so faithfully attached to her, that they would have saved her life at the expence of theirs, had it been required.
It was a long time before Rose recovered from the effect of the disagreeable impressionI4 pression I4v 176 pression caused by the horrid spectacle she had beheld, and from the excessive perturbation she had suffered. Every sudden noise made her start and tremble violently; it was, however, a soothing consolation, that she could converse with Kamira on the mysterious incidents that had happened. When the conversation turned on the circumstance of their being borne away to the dreary beach, they were both of opinion that the ruffians subsisted by robberies of every description, and plundering the vessels wrecked on the coast; that they did not scruple murder, when any considerable booty was in view, she was convinced, from the mangled dead body she had seen in the rocky recess, and she was grateful to Providence that had benignly rescued them from the hands of these sanguinary unprincipled assassins. Rose likewise suspected that there was some inlet from the cavern near the sea, to the one she had discovered communicated with Treharne Hall. Various conjecturesjectures I5r 177 jectures perplexed her; and, quite bewildered with endeavouring to explain the mystery, she found she must trust to time to develop it. She concluded, on reasonable grounds, that the ruffians were instigated and employed by another person to force her away, for some motive she could not penetrate. The appearance of Mrs. Pryce with the unknown gentleman, who looked superior and elegant, notwithstanding his disguise, heightened her suspicion.
Mrs. Fane, when she visited Rose, was surprised and concerned at seeing her again looking exceedingly ill, which she attributed to a violent cold she had really caught in walking through the damp wood. She was glad to make this excuse, as she could not, consistent with her promise or secrecy, confide what had passed—at least she was undecided how to act till she had consulted her father and mother, and was resolved to remain passive till she could have the advantage of their judgment and advice.I5 Apprehensive I5v 178
Apprehensive of any additional attempts to ensnare and carry her off, she never walked out, if only in the garden, without Robin accompanying her, as well as Kamira. Instead of walking as frequently as formerly, she went an airing in Mrs. Fane’s carriage, and visited that lady often, accepting her kind invitations more than she had hitherto done, as she felt secure when rambling in her garden and grounds. Mrs. Fane was much gratified with her constant visits, and she had the satisfaction of pleasing her worthy old friend, and feeling herself protected and amused.
But an event that now happened was a source of the truest gratification; it renewed her vivacity, and was the sweetest balm to heal her wounded breast. This was a letter from her brother, to whom she was so ardently attached, in which he informed her he had just landed from Ireland, and would be at Treharne in a few days. The expectation of seeing him was a consolation I6r 179 a consolation for all her sufferings. Felix even mentioned the evening and hour he intended to arrive, and have the happiness of embracing his sisters; adding, that he had heard from his mother all the particulars of hers and his father’s residence, for so long a period, at Towie Craigs. The delight of Rose at the prospect of meeting her dear brother, who had been absent for such a length of time, is almost indescribable. Unaccustomed for some months to the emotions of joy, the pleasing estranged sensations quite agitated her.
Every hour appeared an age till the day arrived, at whose close that loved brother was to appear. As the evening and time approached, each moment seemed to move on leaden wings. It was a fine calm night, when Rose stood at the hall-door in anxious expectation. The moon gently rose over the hills, and irradiated with its beams the ancient turrets of Treharne Hall, and silver waters of the river that washed its walls. Undisturbed, the stream smoothly I6 glided I6v 180 glided, reflecting the bright orb of the brilliant luminary; the sky was spangled with innumerable stars; and Rose admired, though her mind was occupied, the luminous sparkling bodies that shone in the nocturnal scene: by their soft light she listened to the tuneful sweet modulation of the nightingale, whose harmonious warblings were distinctly heard. In the solitary grove near the hermitage, she had frequently been entertained in summer with this enchanting evening songstress, who frequented sequestered coppices and shady spots.
The pleasing anxiety that agitated her was soon removed, by the sound of carriage-wheels rattling at a little distance, which announced the approach of Felix. Robin was waiting on the other side of the river in readiness to attend him, and soon did the postchaise appear in sight. It stopped near the banks of the river, and with unutterable joy she saw her brother, dressed in regimentals, spring from the carriage. I7r 181 carriage. He then waited a moment, till a gentleman got out with his assistance, who leaned upon his arm for support, as if he was ill. Felix now appeared to desire Robin to bear him up on the other side, and between them he was placed in the boat, leaving the postillion with the luggage, till Robin could return to help him to bring it over. When they entered, where Rose stood eager to receive them, she flew to embrace her brother, who affectionately returned her testimonies of regard with fraternal affection. The stranger kept back, leaning on Robin, till the first emotion of joy at meeting after so long an interval had subsided; and Felix, turning to him, said—Forgive me, if in the delight of seeing my sister, I have neglected you for an instant.—Rose, he continued, I must now entreat your immediate care and attention for this gentleman, whom I have had the good fortune to rescue from a gang of wretches, who have wounded him, but I hope not dangerously.Rose I7v 182
Rose now looked at the stranger, who bowed to her, and apologized for her inattention to him, from being so much engaged with the pleasure of seeing her brother. He looked very pale and exhausted, and she requested he would accompany her to the drawing-room, where he could recline on a sofa, till an apartment was prepared, and have any assistance or relief he required or wished. Leaning on Robin and Felix, he attended her, and placing the cushions of the sofa in such a manner as would allow him to repose with ease and comfort, he gladly rested his weakened frame, feeling very faint, from having lost a great deal of the vital stream of life.
Felix left the room, and Rose being disengaged, was now at leisure to contemplate the stranger. Never had she viewed any one with equal admiration and interest. He was tall, and finely proportioned, with a face of manly beauty, and about five or six-and-twenty years of age. Rose was so much interested with his appearance, that she I8r 183 she could not avoid stealing a look at him whenever she could do it unperceived, and though, if his mind equalled his person, he must be perfection itself. He was dressed in the regimentals of an officer of the Guards, and his two epaulets proved he was of no inferior rank. The wounds he had received were in his shoulder and breast, and the stains on his white waistcoat and pantaloons were evident traces of the injuries he had received. Rose asked if he would not wish to retire to rest, as he should occupy her brother’s apartment, which was ready, and another could be arranged for him? but he thanked her in a faint voice, and declined her kind and polite offer, saying, he would rather wait where he was, till he had seen the surgeon Mr. Douglas had been so good as to dispatch his servant for before their arrival, and wished him to examine his wounds.
Felix now returned, and related to his sister the particulars of his rencontre with this gentleman, whom he styled sir Eglamourmour I8v 184 mour Delavalle. Within a mile of Treharne, as he was driving on rapidly, with his servant (a soldier of his regiment) in the postchaise with him, they perceived, by the light of the moon, a very unequal combat. Sir Eglamour, with two privates, and three or four other men, were bravely defending themselves against a party of at least twenty sailors, and ill-looking fellows. Felix was well armed with a sword and loaded pistols, and his man had likewise another pair charged. With more courage than prudence, as the affray was so disproportionate, he ordered the postboy to stop, and jumping out, ranged himself with his man on the side of his brother- officer, whose military dress prejudiced him in his favour. When the rascals, who had the advantage in numbers, perceived that their opponents had additional support, though small, they cowardly fled, after Felix and his servant had discharged their pistols.
When the villains had taken their flight very I9r 185 very expeditiously, Felix addressed the officer, and finding he was wounded, begged to be allowed to accommodate him with a place in the postchaise, and that he would also partake of the hospitality the home he was going to afforded. The officer, who was delighted with the intrepidity of Felix, whose courageous interference had most probably saved his life, wished to be acquainted with him, and was also happy to receive so speedy an accommodation, as there was neither house or cottage near the spot where they had been engaged; he therefore accepted his proposal with gratitude, and Felix dispatched his own servant directly, on sir Eglamour’s horse, for a surgeon.
As they travelled slowly, Felix was informed by his companion that the men who had retreated on his appearance to assist him and his party, were smugglers, and considered as very daring characters. They were proceeding to one of their places of rendezvous, with a considerable quantitytity I9v 186 tity of contraband goods, when they unexpectedly encountered three customhouse-officers, who had the imprudence to order the smugglers to surrender themselves and property. It was an indiscretion nearly allied to madness, as their opponents were much more than double their number, and not inclined to give themselves up to the punishment of the law, as they belonged to the same gang who had some time before murdered two excise and one customhouse-officer. Hitherto they had eluded the vigilance of justice, and had nearly overpowered these indiscreet men, when sir Eglamour, who was stationed with part of the Coldstream Guards at Exeter, happened to pass by, with two of his soldiers, and knowing one of the men who were engaged against the smugglers, came forward, attended by his soldiers, in defence of the weakest party: but valour and skill in all likelihood would have availed them little, had not Felix and his servant appeared and saved them from becoming I10r 187 becoming victims to the power of these atrocious, lawless wretches. The smugglers were apprehensive, as their enemies’ numbers were increased, though in a trifling degree, that one of them might alarm the country, and bring down a large body of people against them, which would have fatal consequences: this consideration occasioned their giving up the contest, and flying from the scene of action. Felix added, that Robin had been telling him that a band of these desperate fellows had infested the neighbourhood for some years, nor could the magistrates ever discover where they concealed themselves, or been able to secure one of them, notwithstanding the most diligent search had been made; he was therefore of opinion, that sir Eglamour and himself had fortunately escaped from such successful ruffians.
Mr. Addison the surgeon now arrived. He was a skilful man, and resided at a large village about two miles and-a-half from Treharne, which being nearer than Exeter, Brown, I10v 188 Brown, Mr. Douglas’s servant, had very properly requested his attendance, as the delay would be greater if he proceeded to the city for another professional gentleman. Felix and his sister, who were both more interested in favour of their guest than they had ever been for any other stranger, now heard, with the highest satisfaction, that his wounds were not dangerous. Mr. Addison, however, recommended that, sir Eglamour should not be removed from Treharne for a week at least, as he was inclined to be feverish, though slightly wounded, and very much enfeebled from the loss of blood.
When sir Eglamour had retired, Felix eagerly asked why he had not see Jane, what was the reason, and if she was up stairs ill? Rose felt great pain at being reduced to the cruel necessity of acquainting her brother with the distressing circumstances, relative to her sister, that had occurred, yet softened, as much as possible, her imprudence: but all her amiable precautioncaution I11r 189 caution did not prevent him from thinking she had acted incorrectly, and he discerned much to blame in her conduct.
Indiscreet girl! he exclaimed; I always predicted your fate, from the extreme levity and perverseness of your disposition: yet do I not the less lament the misery that I am assured you have entailed on yourself, and the uneasiness you will cause my father and mother. But I hope with you, Rose, that her afflictions may have a good effect, by amending her temper. When she finds most characters in the world very different from her fond indulgent parents, it will probably induce her to correct her errors.
I am convinced, replied Rose, that the indifference of colonel Guilford, which is in my opinion even worse than jealousy or severity, will cause a surprising revolution in her character. Jane possesses natural good sense, which will influence her to reform and improve. Had she married happily and prosperously, instead of correctingrecting I11v 190 recting her errors, she would perhaps have indulged them, till they became too deeply rooted for amendment; I trust, therefore, my dear brother, that when you see her, you will be affectionate, and not make any unkind remarks: but I need not say this, as your good heart has dictated the propriety of being lenient to the failings of so near and dear a relation.
Felix assured her he was not the least inclined to be harsh, and only regretted that Jane had sought such an unhappy destiny. He proposed going to see her very shortly, and desired Rose would write to acquaint her with his arrival. Colonel Guilford’s dislike to visitors he did not think worthy of attention, observing, that it would give Jane consequence in his eyes, when he found that her relations did not desert her, though she had not consulted them respecting her marriage, and that she had a spirited brother to defend her, if ill used. Rose admired her brother’s animation while he was speaking, and I12r 191 and the manly energy he displayed, and felt herself transformed to a different being, now that she enjoyed the consolation of his society and protection. It seemed as if no danger could approach, while he resided with her.
During the period that sir Eglamour was a resident of Treharne, Rose imparted to her brother the various events that had happened since their parents were in Scotland. The only incident she concealed from him was Courtenay’s perfidy and attachment. Previous, however, to this confidence, she made him promise that whatever she entrusted to him should remain a secret. He sympathized in her terror and anxiety, when she described her dreadful adventure in the subterraneous abode. For what purpose they had borne her to the cavern, and by whom employed, he could not imagine. The only part of the mystery he thought he could penetrate was, that there existed a connexion between the smugglers who had wounded sir I12v 192 sir Eglamour, and the ruffians who conveyed her to the ruinous house. He likewise suspected that there was some subterraneous passage that connected the cavern at Treharne with the one nearer the sea.
Felix and Rose, while they lamented the accident that had caused sir Eglamour’s wounds and sufferings, could not avoid at the same time rejoicing that this unfortunate circumstance had introduced him to their acquaintance. United to a manly beauty that is rarely seen, he possessed the finest understanding, with the most exquisite refinement of manners, and pleasing address. Though so uncommonly handsome, he did not appear to place the least value on his personal attractions. He was lively, humane, and the bravest among those distinguished for courage. His disposition and that of Felix were very similar, and they directly formed one of those ardent friendships, produced in feeling and kind hearts in early life, with all the unsophisticated warmth of noble minds. No cold K1r 193 cold suspicion, the growth of advanced years, prevented them from enjoying the glow of partiality and esteem with all its pleasing ardour.
On the third day after his reception at the Hall, sir Eglamour left his apartment, and passed the succeeding hours in the society of Felix and his sister. They tasted together those delightful moments, which sometimes occur in existence, though not frequently, and are like gleams of brightest sunshine. They are remembered as instants of happiness, that have glided without alloy, like a blissful dream. Rose was captivated with sir Eglamour, from the first evening she beheld him, and the object of her admiration received the same impression in her favour. Though writhing with acute pain, he thought, as he gazed on her perfect form, that she was the most lovely woman he had ever seen. Every additional hour that he passed in her company heightened the prepossession. He discovered that her manners were Vol. II. K charming K1v 194 charming and fascinating, and her disposition as estimable as her person was beautiful. Each day they admired and mutually esteemed the character and perfections that distinguished the other, and in one little week became truly and ardently attached.
But perfect felicity is too transient in general, and by its loss we feel severely the deprivation we have sustained. Endeared to each other with the fondest affection, they viewed the expiration of this eventful week with real regret. Their new-born attachment made them keenly feel the bitterness of separation. They were conscious of the ardent regard that glowed in either faithful bosom, though neither of them had pronounced the word I love. Sir Eglamour had not acquired resolution to make a declaration of his sincere affection, and offer himself for her acceptance; but he resolved, when he returned to Exeter, to disclose his sentiments in a letter. When he was on the point of leaving K2r 195 leaving Treharne, Felix said he should accompany him to his lodgings, and visit him afterwards in a few days, as he should be anxious to know how his health was; and if it continued to improve, Rose added that she hoped they should soon have the pleasure of seeing him again.
Sir Eglamour looked expressively at her, and replied—I must lose all recollection of what is most pleasing and interesting in existence, if you do not see me very shortly at your door.
Rose blushed, and attended him and her brother to the hall, as they were going off, when he uttered those last words. She stood on the steps gazing after them, till they entered the postchaise; and while she admired the graceful figure of her lover, could not help thinking that two such elegant handsome young men were seldom seen together. Sir Eglamour kissed his hand to her from the window of the carriage, and Rose returned into the house K2 quite K2v 196 quite dejected. The hopes and fears that agitate the mind of those who really love assailed her by turns. He was gone to a place where there was a great number of pretty women, who might banish the remembrance of her. That he was much interested and pleased with her, she had, without vanity, important reasons to believe, from several little incidents that had taken place, and unequivocally discovered his passion.
But all these anxious doubts and fears that tormented Rose were quickly removed by a letter from sir Eglamour the following day. How soothing were his professions of unerring regard, and that his love was not a transitory flame, but as steady as it was passionate, being enkindled not only by the beauty, but worth of its object! After this frank avowal of his attachment, he concluded by candidly offering himself as her future protector, observing, that he should rely on the gentlenessness K3r 197 ness and sensibility of her nature, to spare him the misery of being long in a state of uncertainty with respect to her sentiments.
Rose loved him too well (whose excellence she considered as unrivalled) to keep him a moment in suspense, and answered his letter immediately. With a frankness like his own, she confessed her predilection, and that she should be perfectly happy to unite her destiny with his, with the approbation of her father and mother. If their consent was obtained, and their union should be effected, Rose ingenuously avowed that she should feel the utmost solicitude to promote his happiness, and it would be her study, by complying with his wishes, to make him never regret that he had chosen her for his wife. When she had finished this letter, she dispatched it by Brown to sir Eglamour, and then prepared to accompany Felix on a visit to Jane, who was apprized the day before of their intention. With that habitual consideration for the feelings of others that K3 distinguished K3v 198 distinguished Rose, she had thought it right to inform her sister they were coming, to avoid her being surprised, as she feared it might agitate her in her interesting critical situation.
Felix and Rose set off on horseback, and the road which conducted to the residence of Jane was quite new to them. They had to ascend very steep hills in the beginning of their ride, which commanded delightful picturesque views, when they gained their summits. The ground afterwards became more level, and they rode through shady lanes, where the wild rose blushed in the hedges, and scented the air. In the meadows the haymakers were actively employed, and the fragrant perfume of the new-mown hay was wafted to them by the gentle breeze that played among the foliage of the embowering trees. They had some difficulty in finding the way that led to Hemeridge Cottage, where Mrs. Guilford resided, when they were within two miles of it, as the villagers who K4r 199 who lived in the nearest hamlet were ignorant of such a place being in the neighbourhood. As they were making further inquiries, a labourer luckily overheard them, who had worked in the colonel’s garden, and directed them to enter a wood half-a-mile further, which conducted to the spot.
Having reached the place he had pointed out, they entered a path cut through the trees, which winding continually, brought them, after riding a mile and a half, to a low building in the cottage style. It had no upper apartments, all the rooms being on the ground-floor. Impenetrable thickets and tall trees enclosed the garden, in the middle of which it stood, on all sides, excepting the entrance to it, which made the cottage appear as if to be shut out from every living creature. From being built so exceedingly low, it had the appearance as if it was sunk beneath the branching oaks, lofty elms, and thick-leaved ash and sycamores, that flourished luxuriantly near. K4 They K4v 200 They rang the bell, which was answered by a young woman whose countenance was expressive of anxiety. Having asked for Mrs. Guilford, they were informed she was extremely ill. This made them the more eager to see her, and, instantly alighting, Felix fastened the horses to the gate, and as they hastily entered the garden, told the servant they were Mrs. Guilford’s relations.
Felix remained in a small parlour while Rose was conducted to her sister’s apartment.
Jane was seated in an arm-chair, with an old woman near her, who looked like a nurse. The moment Rose entered, she got up, curtsied respectfully, and left the chamber, saying, as she went out—You will ring when you want me, ma’am.
Hardly could Rose command her agonized feelings at the sight of her altered sister, and it required the strongest mental efforts to conceal her anguish. She trembled for her life when she saw her look K5r 201 look so pale and wan. Her round rosy cheeks, colourless now, were fallen in, and her lips were blue, instead of being like coral, as they used to be before she was married. The redness of her eyes shewed she had been weeping, and her whole countenance was haggard and mournful.
When the old woman was out of hearing, Jane said–I have scarcely strength to speak, I feel so very ill; but it is a great comfort to me to see you, for I do not think we shall meet again―I feel as if I had not long to live.―That good woman who has left us is my nurse― From what she says, I expect hourly to be confined.―That I can outlive the event, I fear, is not possible.―If my child survives its guilty mother―I bequeath it to your care――Supply my place when I am gone―lost for ever.
Here loud sobs interrupted her; her head fell back, and nearly fainting, she could not then articulate another word. Rose gave her a glass of water, which K5 revived K5v 202 revived her, and though inexpressibly wretched at witnessing this affecting scene, she conquered her feelings, and assumed a look of cheerfulness.—Do not yield to low spirits, my dear Jane, she exclaimed; it is quite common, I have heard, to be dejected and nervous, situated as you are. I do not feel the least uneasiness on your account.
Oh, Rose, you do not know the cause. I was very well and cheerful till yesterday―then I received my death-blow. ―I have hardly courage or strength to mention it―but it is necessary you should know it―however painful the disclosure.
Here Jane’s breath grew very short; she sighed deeply, while her sister implored her not to speak any more at present on the subject, as it agitated her too much.
After a silence of some minutes, Jane would proceed, notwithstanding her sister’s entreaties that she would not awaken any K6r 203 any painful recollections. Jane informed Rose, that Mrs. Pryce had lately been very frequent in her visits, though she discouraged them as much as she possibly could without being uncivil. Yesterday, when she came, she conversed without restraint, in an unchaste and improper manner, and betrayed so gross a neglect of elegant decency, to which Mrs. Guilford had always been accustomed, that it was quite offensive to her feelings, and she gently expressed her disapprobation of this kind of conversation. Mrs. Pryce was quite enraged that one so much younger should dare to disapprove any thing she said, and with the countenance of a fury marched up to her with her fist doubled, which she shook at her, and with an eye of such malignity, that the impression could never be forgotten; though a light blue, her eyes were inflamed to that degree with rage, that they glared like a vivid fire. She made use of language the most opprobrious and vulgar K6 (which K6v 204 (which it would be impossible for her to repeat), and then said, with a sneering laugh, she need not pique herself on her virtue and propriety, as she was only colonel Guilford’s mistress, making use of a very coarse expression at the same time. —He has a wife, added Mrs. Pryce, that he is honourably married to.
This heart-rending discovery, united to the horror she experienced at being stigmatized by the disgraceful epithet Mrs. Pryce had bestowed on her, had so severe an effect, that she was instantly seized with violent hysteric fits. These produced symptoms very alarming, and the maid, who was a good sort of girl, being uneasy at seeing her suffer, sent directly for the nurse, who had this morning ordered the doctor to be summoned.
Confirmed in effrontery and wickedness, Mrs. Pryce evinced not the least concern at the consequence of her merciless and unfeminine attack upon this poor young creature, in her critical state of health, K7r 205 health, but hurried away, fearful of being blamed.
Had colonel Guilford been at home, she would not have presumed to insult her, for though churlish and violent in his conduct to her himself, he would not have allowed this depraved abandoned woman to triumph over and treat her with insolence. Unfortunately, the colonel had been absent several days on particular business, which he expected would detain him some weeks longer, and of this circumstance, with which she was acquainted, she had taken advantage, like a worthless being as she was, to trample upon the depressed unoffending Jane. Her intention was to completely corrupt the victim of her arts, and by detaching her from colonel Guilford, gain some pecuniary profit by persuading her to elope with another gentleman who had seen and admired her, when she was recovered from her confinement. Foiled in her attempts, from the good and correct educationcation K7v 206 cation she had received, and superior society she had associated with, Mrs. Pryce’s indignation knew no bounds, and she was exasperated to distraction to find that Jane had an aversion to low and improper conversation. She resolved, in revenge, to mortify her, and too effectually succeeded.
The internal sufferings of Rose, as her sister related these cruel events, were agonizing and deeply wounded; her mental exertions were great to conceal the anguish that overwhelmed her.
Jane’s mind seemed relieved by the communication she had made, which was a feeble alleviation of her sorrow, and summoning all her resolution, she addressed her in an assumed voice of cheerfulness, saying—I congratulate you on not being married to a worthless character; you would have been always miserable, since such a disgrace to her sex as Mrs. Pryce is on the list of his intimate friends. As soon as your health is restored, as you are now free, you can return home, and I shall have K8r 207 have my companion again; the infant can be put out to nurse, and as this unhappy affair is only known to a few persons, it need not be mentioned that you have been married. You are not to be censured for having been deceived; colonel Guilford and Mrs. Pryce are the guilty beings: they imposed on your innocence and inexperience by fraudulently mocking you with a false marriage. The undeserved treachery you have encountered, and the insults you have sustained, only make me love you the more. This artful imposition is a disgrace to them and none to you: no longer shall you be subjected to the tyranny of Guilford, or the insolence of his depraved companions. But I must go and dismiss my brother, and tell him I shall remain here all night—But will you not see him before he goes?
Jane declined an interview with Felix, not having courage at present to behold a brother, who, she was conscious, must inwardly disapprove her imprudence, which had led to unhappiness, not only to herself, but to her relations. She appeared already K8v 208 already revived by her sister’s kindness, who went and imparted to Felix, in a concise manner, every thing that had occurred. He shared in the affliction which Jane’s recital had mentally caused Rose, but approved of all his favourite sister had done and intended. In compliance with her wish, he returned home immediately, without seeing Jane, and escaped the painful sensations such a meeting would have occasioned.
As the experienced nurse had predicted, Jane, about twelve o’clock at night, introduced a fine little girl into the world, without her life being endangered. Rose felt indescribable joy at this fortunate termination of an event that she had dreaded, from her being previously so ill and dejected. As she gazed with affection at the pretty chubby little babe, she could not help wishing, from the melancholy circumstance of its birth, that it had been a boy, as it would be shielded from many dangers that await a female, and more easily provided K9r 209 provided for. But her sister was well, and that consideration consoled her mind, and would not suffer her to feel a regret on any other subject. On the following evening she returned to Treharne, to communicate the good news to her brother, and consult with him, as it was necessary to procure a confidential person to take the charge immediately of her sister’s infant. Felix was much pleased to hear that all their anxiety respecting Jane’s health was removed; and when Rose suggested to him that dame Brownson would be an excellent person, she thought, to have the care of the child, as she was a good woman, he was quite delighted with the idea, and proposed a walk to her cottage the next morning.
When they arrived, according to their engagement, at the dame’s cottage the following day, they found her quite hearty, blowing the fire to make the pot boil against her husband came home to dinner. After expressing her joy at seeing them both, K9v 210 both, but particularly Mr. Douglas, who had been absent so long, she hung up the bellows carefully, saying—It will bring ill-luck if I leave them on a chair or the table, and there’s no occasion for that, for there’s bad luck enough to be met with without seeking it.
They smiled at her superstition, and she continued—The days are nice and long now, young folks; I always goes, and so does my master now, to bed by daylight. You know the saying is, Lady-day, at night, Put the candle out of sight.
I never heard that saying before, replied Rose.
Why, Miss, no doubt there’s many a queer old woman’s saying as you have never heard. But I be sorry to see you look so peaking and poorly; you don’t look like yourself. Howsomever, I be glad to see Mr. Douglas look so handsome, stout, and tall; why be sure, he’s as fresh as K10r 211 as the flowers in May. But how comes it Miss Jane is not with you? She’s always healthy and merry as a grig; the black cow has not trod on her heel yet.
She is not very well, replied Rose, but she will come and see you when she is recovered; and Miss Douglas then proceeded to inform the dame she was come to visit her on very particular business. A friend of hers, whom she was very fond of, had died in childbirth, and consigned the new-born infant to her care; from respect to her deceased friend, she wished to place it with some person of whom she had a high opinion, who would be careful it should not be neglected, and treat it with tenderness. When she came to reflect, she considered that Mrs. Brownson was exactly the worthy kind of woman in whose hands she should like to place the child, and she resolved to apply to her. Rose continued, that it was not to occasion her any additional fatigue, as she would pay for the dame’s keeping another maid, K10v 212 maid, besides the girl who now managed the dairy, and did the household work; it would be therefore an amusement for her to superintend the management of the infant.
Dame Brownson said she should have been happy to oblige her, even if what she proposed had not been agreeable; but she assured her she was delighted at the thought of having the little babe; it would be an entertainment, and pass away many a dull hour. Her master (meaning her husband) was very fond of those young things: when they had children of their own, he was always playing with them; but now they were all dead and gone long ago, or she might have had a grandchild to dandle on her knee; and she wiped a tear from her aged eyes as she spoke.
Felix and Rose respected her sorrows, as they reflected it must be heart-breaking, after the trouble, expence, and anxiety of rearing children, to be deprived of them, and childless, when the ravages of time K11r 213 time have made them require their affection and support to soften their declining years. Rose agreed to bring or send the infant to her in a few days, and felt her mind quite relieved at having arranged the reception of the infant to her satisfaction, where she knew the greatest attention would be paid to its infantine wants.
Felix rode every other day to inquire after Jane, who continued exceedingly well; it was the balm of sisterly kindness, and unbosoming herself to her, that soothed the acute miseries that had oppressed her heart, and threatened her existence. All this period Rose enjoyed not only the sweet reflection of having by humanity and tenderness saved her sister’s life, and acted with the strictest principle towards her, but the pure and blissful happiness of receiving daily the most pleasing and affectionate letters from sir Eglamour. She relied with implicit faith on his attachment; and the felicity of being beloved by the most estimable, the most perfect of men, K11v 214 men, would have fully compensated, she thought, for years of anguish.
By this frequent and interesting interchange of their sentiments, which was flattering to their love and wishes, they softened the tediousness of absence, as they were not to meet till Rose had placed her sister’s child in the hands of dame Brownson. On the morning appointed, Rose drove to Hemeridge Cottage in a postchaise, to fetch the infant, and was much affected at perceiving that Jane poignantly suffered the severest pain at parting from her child. Though it wounded Rose to witness her affliction, she was gratified at discovering she possessed so much affection and feeling. Rose endeavoured to console and reconcile her to this separation, by observing what a pleasant walk it would be for them to dame Brownson’s cottage, and how gratifying it would be to watch the little infant’s improvement. Sometimes she should request the dame to bring it to them, and it would be so pleasant to have it K12r 215 it for a whole day! Rose perceived the tear of maternal regard glisten in her sister’s eye as she spoke, and warmly entreated Jane to set off for Treharne as soon as she was well enough to undertake the journey, as she was fearful it would not be in her power to visit her again.
The innocent babe was now placed in the arms of Rose, who kissed it with affectionate regard; more attached to the child from the misfortune of its birth, she resolved that the tenderest care should be taken of it. It slept soundly during the journey from Hemeridge to the dame’s residence, and when she reached her clean and pleasant abode, she resigned the infant with confidence to her care.
The only abatement to the happiness Rose experienced at this period, was the lengthened absence of her valued parents; had they been restored to her, she would have tasted the most exquisite felicity. Her brother, that she tenderly loved, was with her; she expected soon to enjoy the society of K12v 216 of her sister, much improved by adversity; and the man she would have chosen from a thousand others, superior in fortune, she was shortly to have the delight of seeing. That he was deserving her attachment, who loved her with the truest tenderness, was a sweet, a delightful reflection. In goodness and every excellence that ennobles the human heart, his character shone conspicuously; securely could she confide in him, who preferred her prosperity and tranquillity to his own, so truly did he love her.
To her friend Mrs. Fane she had disclosed in confidence every thing that had lately passed relative to her sister, as she was acquainted with the commencement of this unfortunate affair. Mrs. Fane quite approved her conduct and management respecting the infant, and said she should herself sometimes go and see it. To receive her approbation was infinitely flattering, as she esteemed and admired her mother’s worthy old friend. But emotions of L1r 217 of a different description now agitated the affectionate bosom of Rose Douglas. The moment appointed by sir Eglamour in his last letter for their interview approached; her heart palpitated with mingled sensations of pleasure and confusion, at the prospect of her expected happiness.
The fine bloom that usually glowed in the cheeks of Rose, when sorrow had not stolen it away, was not a little heightened when sir Eglamour’s curricle appeared in sight, driven by his footman. It stopped opposite the mansion, and from the drawing-room window, where she was standing, she observed with satisfaction, that he did not get out with that languor and feeble manner which she had remarked with concern when he left Treharne. He caught her gazing at him, and nodded and smiled with a happy animated expression.
Sir Eglamour was much improved in his looks since they last met: he was always handsome and engaging, even when Vol. II. L indisposed, L1v 218 indisposed, but returning health added to his personal attractions, and made him more impressively captivating. Their mutual felicity seemed to irradiate their countenances, and made them appear more lovely than ever. Seldom did a form so graceful and handsome as sir Eglamour’s meet the sight, or such a beautiful elegant girl as Rose charm the admiring eye.
Sir Eglamour assured her that he had impatiently anticipated this blissful moment: had he been pre-engaged when he first knew her, and not allowed to love, the kind attentions he had received, her politeness and pleasing manners, would have spoilt him for enduring to live alone. To call it living, was wrong— breathing only, he would allow it was—a mere respiration, and nothing more. The day after he had parted from her he knew not how to describe—in a word, it was ennui from morning till night.
Sir Eglamour then alluded to their future union, and mentioned his fervent wishes L2r 219 wishes to be soon allowed, by the dearest and nearest of all ties, to be enabled to constantly watch over her happiness.
Rose replied, that she should be very reluctant for that event to take place, unless it was sanctioned by the presence of either her father or mother. It was sufficient for her merely to hint at the disposition of her mind and inclinations, for him to assent to whatever she chose to dictate, who he judged could never err; no one, he affirmed, in the language of sincerity, was more desirous to promote her views of happiness and prosperity, and the certainty of effecting her felicity would give him heartfelt delight. It was true, he added, that his friendship and love appeared to be yet in embryo, but he hoped, that with lengthened days his wishes would put forth white blossoms, and yield delicious fruit. You smile at my flowery description just now, and that is what I am solicitous always to create in your sweet L2 countenance: L2v 220 countenance: may I never be the cause of a frown clouding that open brow!
Thus, in expressions of tender and sincere attachment on the part of sir Eglamour, and in confiding truth and real affectionate sentiments, breathed by the ingenuous artless Rose, did their hours glide in pure and unalterable bliss; they separated with regret, and met again with ineffable pleasure, continually discovering in the other some new virtue or captivating quality, that rendered their regard inextinguishable. On those days when sir Eglamour’s duty as an officer prevented him from visiting the object of his every thought, the most impassioned and tender letters passed between them, and relieved the tediousness of absence; they looked forward with impatience and anxiety for the time that was to unite them, never more, they hoped, to separate. The high opinion they entertained of each other convinced them that when the first delirium L3r 221 delirium of love had subsided, the most unshaken friendship would continue to unite their hearts in indissoluble bonds.
When Jane was sufficiently recovered to quit Hemeridge Cottage, she wrote a letter to colonel Guilford previous to her departure. In this letter she informed him of the discovery Mrs. Pryce had grossly made of the cruel deception that had been practised to ruin her peace for ever. To see him any more, was not consistent, she said, with her ideas of rectitude; he L3 would L3v 222 would be surprised to hear her say this, who had acted giddily and with imprudence, but the moral precepts inculcated from her earliest youth had not been forgotten. She might be thoughtless, but never willingly would she be criminal, and the most distant thought of continuing to reside with a married man thrilled her mind with unspeakable horror. She had been heedless, unsteady, and violent, but her severe misfortunes, she hoped, would correct her errors. Though she would not reproach him, she wished that the intelligence of his having another wife had been imparted to her in a manner less insolent and disgusting than the indelicate method Mrs. Pryce took to undeceive her. The only favour she now requested was, that he would allow her an annual sum for the support of her child. If he conducted himself with liberality in this respect, she should never evince any resentment, but let all that had passed between them be buried in oblivion; she would try to forgetget L4r 223 get that she had considered herself as a married woman, and hoped that very few persons would be acquainted with that unfortunate circumstance.
Having sent off this letter, and arranged every thing for her little journey, she entered the postchaise, and in two hours and a half arrived at the paternal mansion, from which she had voluntarily banished herself, and been ever since a stranger to tranquillity. Rose received her with a cheerful and animated face, expressive of pleasure, and Kamira jumped and danced about her with unaffected joy.—Poor Miss Jane look very ill, exclaimed the faithful Indian; but me make her some good stuff, some nice jelly, make her plump, and laugh and sing, and get good sweetheart, like Miss Rose. Oh! such a handsome beauty gentleman! his eyes shine like sunbeams on the water; he tall as the fir-tree in the woods of my country. You like him, Miss Jane; he’s got heart like L4 your L4v 224 your sister, very good, very sweet indeed —you must see him soon.
Jane smiled at this rhapsody of Kamira’s; she looked at Rose, not having heard her mention this new lover, and her blushes confirmed the truth of what Kamira had said. Rose now conducted her to a small room, which she had fitted up for her when she wrote word she was coming, and wished to be quite retired and not see any company. It commanded a delightful view, and was more comfortable, from being comparatively small to the other large, lofty, old-fashioned apartments. Jane was much pleased with her sister’s attention, and rallied her on the new admirer Kamira had talked of, observing that she was rejoiced another lover had succeeded in making her forget the unworthy Courtenay.
Rose now related to her without disguise the disagreeable event that had introduced sir Eglamour to her, which had fortunately L5r 225 fortunately terminated well, and his subsequent attachment to her, which she had encouraged, from knowing him to be the most estimable of men. She likewise solicited Jane to allow him to see her, and consider her as a friend; his society would amuse, as she intended, under the plea of ill-health, to excuse herself from receiving any visitors but Mrs. Fane.
Though Jane persisted in being secluded from society, Rose at length persuaded her to suffer sir Eglamour to be admitted to her retirement, as she wished him to entertain a friendship for her sister. As Jane viewed him with interest, she could not do otherwise than own, that in this instance Rose had displayed exquisite taste and discernment. The striking attraction of his fine person, his mental endowments, and winning manners, quite enchanted her.
Felix informed them that he had seen very severe service as an officer. The character he had lately heard of sir EglamourL5 mour, L5v 226 mour, from several distinguished military men, was, that he possessed boldness and intrepidity in the greatest dangers; to this he joined an invincible patience and firmness in supporting excessive fatigue, and a settled resolution to die sword in hand, rather than be vanquished, as his constancy and bravery in battle surpassed the courage of most men. To hear the praise of the man she loved, and which he justly merited, was music to the ear of Rose, who could listen for hours to her brother, when he spoke of him.
Sir Eglamour traced, in the emaciated form and faded face of Jane Douglas, the evident remains of beauty. He thought she must have been very lovely before illness had impaired her charms, and dimmed their lustre. Yet handsome, as he imagined she formerly was, she did not appear to him to have ever been so beautiful and engaging as his gentle Rose. He felt convinced, that if indisposition was to reduce her to a shadow of her former self, the L6r 227 the goodness that beamed in her expressive countenance, and the knowledge of her excellent disposition, would always endear her to him.
Jane did not envy her sister’s happiness, but reproached herself for having lost all hope of being truly valued by a worthy character, when she witnessed the sincere looks, and ardent expressions of pure and real love that passed between sir Eglamour and Rose. These lovers seemed only to breathe for each other; every object and scene was pleasing to them, because viewed through the perspective glass of genuine love, which embellishes the dullest prospect, the most insipid company.
When Jane was alone in her retreat, she would exclaim with bitter agony—Had I not imprudently sacrificed myself, I might have been happy, like my sister, with some amiable man who truly loved me, and not the deserted wretched dupe of a dissolute libertine, and, what is still more afflicting, a married man. Alas! how shall I have L6r courage L6v 228 courage to meet my father and mother? Though they are strangers to my folly, yet the consciousness of my weakness will make me tremble before them.
Thus constantly blaming herself, and nourishing her grief in solitude, which made her dejected and unhappy, her health became gradually undermined. She never walked out, except to dame Brownson’s cottage, to visit her child, which only made her more miserable, as she dared not indulge her wish to caress it, with all the ardour she secretly felt. The good dame was thunderstruck at perceiving such an alteration in the lively Miss Jane, who was grown quite serious, and shaking her head, observed that she did not like to see such a change in a young person; it seemed as if they had been crossed in love, and she hoped no false-hearted gentleman had been deceiving her.
Rose evaded the subject, by saying it was a dangerous illness that had caused her sister to be so different from what she used L7r 229 used to be, and that her spirits would revive when her health was restored.
This explanation appeared very natural, as she was grown exceedingly thin, and a hollow cough shook her wasted frame. The dame sometimes brought the infant to Treharne, and remained with it the whole day; then did Jane enjoy all the luxury of woe: shut up with it in her solitary apartment, she desired her sister not to interrupt her, that she might enjoy the pleasure of caressing and playing with her infant undisturbedly. Rose indulged her, and respecting her maternal affection, was careful she should not be molested; but had she known that while she fondled the innocent creature, she wept bitterly, and bathed its cherub face with her tears, she would not have suffered her to be uninterrupted. When the baby slept, she continued to lament over it, almost in a state of distraction, though she concealed her perturbation directly her sister appeared, fearful she would deprive her of this painfulful L7v 230 ful consolation, if she knew the emotion it created.
Mrs. Fane had left the country soon after Jane’s return, on a visit to one of her children in London. Had she seen her thus gradually wasting, she would have pointed out to her brother and sister the alarming alteration, who from being with her constantly, did not perceive the melancholy change. The return of Felix to Treharne had restored it to part of its usual gaiety, though not quite so cheerful as when the general and his lady were there, and Jane formed one of the party. To all inquiries respecting her, the answer was, that she had been for some time indisposed, and continued quite an invalid.
The Morrington family were returned, and brought down with them, on another visit, the count de Fontenai. Felix called on lord Morrington, and was introduced to the count, who visited Treharne a few days afterwards. He was apparently much disappointed at not seeing Miss Jane, and anxiously L8r 231 anxiously inquired of Miss Douglas after her health. When he was informed she was ill, he evinced a sensibility that pleased and interested her, which made Rose suspect that he actually felt a real attachment to her sister. From this observation, she was determined to do all in her power, when Jane was a little recovered, to persuade her to have an interview with De Fontenai, and give him encouragement, as he was a man of superior rank and fortune; and from the feeling he displayed, it was evident his heart was not defective.
The count was not deficient in understanding, though guilty of many follies, and foppish, as most young Frenchmen are, from their extreme vivacity, and are rarely the least rational till more than thirty. Rose expressed to Jane the good opinion she entertained of him, and her suspicion of his ardent regard for her. From the favourable manner in which she listened to the encomiums bestowed on the count, Rose hoped that in time she might be L8v 232 be persuaded to see him; if he truly loved her, she imagined that he would not be the less attached, when informed of her having been deceived by a false marriage, as her ideas were too noble and correct to think of practising any deception, should he make Jane a regular offer of his hand.
Jane now informed her sister, that she had observed, ever since lady Morrington’s return, the figure of a gentleman, whose form resembled the count’s, walking every day near the Hall, and looking all over it, as if he wished to catch a glance of some person; and from what Rose had just mentioned, she thought it was indeed De Fontenai, who walked by with the hope of seeing her by chance at the window.
Miss Wizzle and her worthy brother Jerry, accompanied by doctor Owen, came to pay their respects almost directly after they were informed of Mr. Felix Douglas being arrived at Treharne. To add to the group assembled that morning in the drawing-room, were sir Henry Arundel, Miss Herbert L9r 233 Herbert, who had lately returned into the country, and sir Eglamour.
Most accomplished and charming girl! said doctor Owen, walking up immediately to Rose, when he entered, daughter of most delightful parents, sister of the Graces, and now of Mars also (meaning Felix, because he was an officer), how I regret that I am not a nabob, a rich sultan, or the grand seignior himself—and young too, that I might lay my turban, beset with valuable jewels, at your feet, and pour all my store into your lap!
I would do more, observed sir Eglamour, who discovered instantly all the eccentricity and absurdity of his character, which amused him highly—I should like to travel with her brother Mars to Peru, and ransack the mines there, for this lovely creature, her sister Grace, and amiable parents. Mars and myself would, I will venture to suppose, be satisfied with a small portion of riches ourselves, if so highly blessed as to contribute all we could L9v 234 could to the happiness of those we love and honour.
I am sorry, Miss said the good but formal Jerry, that I am confined, or rather chained by the leg to the apothecary’s shop; therefore, though I wish, I cannot pretend to do all these gentlemen talk of; I must leave it wholly to your brother Mars to accomplish with sir Eglamour our ardent desires. They have full liberty to traverse this rich, great globe, and to demand their portion of the spoils fortune may kindly throw in their way. You and yours, my dear Miss, will no doubt share with Mars and sir Eglamour not a small part of their good fortune, which, with two other blessings, health and contentment, may you ever be happy!
Really, brother, exclaimed Polly Wizzle, I think you are not very polite, no more than doctor Owen, to make Miss Douglas the principal subject of conversation (if she is your favourite), and neglecting another lady that is present.“I admire L10r 235
I admire him for it, said Miss Herbert; it proves he is the most constant of the constant. Do not be uneasy, for I am not in the least jealous.
How much like a true woman, my sister likes to turn the tables on me! replied Jerry. When she is engrossed with any one who is the object of her admiration, she is deaf, blind, and insensible to all that passes. I believe you are enamoured of that gentleman opposite (meaning sir Henry Arundel), and that is the reason you do not know what you are talking about. But I must reprimand you, and tell you, you are deficient in politeness yourself, having never once asked after poor Miss Jane.
Time and patience are sovereign remedies, rejoined Polly, for such a young girl, and to them I consign her without uneasiness. This fine weather will, I have hopes, do some miracle for her.—Pray, Miss Herbert, may I ask how you liked London this season?“For L10v 236
For some time after I arrived, very few people were in town, which made it rather triste. Afterwards, when they all assembled, it became almost too hot for crowded rooms; and I assure you, I rejoice to get into the country after the fatigue of a London spring.
I should like to have a peep at some of your fashionable dresses, exclaimed Polly, with animation: quite stylish they certainly must be.
You would be disappointed, I fear, said Mary Herbert, smiling; I have brought very few offerings for the shrine of vanity. If the sight of them is not unacceptable, I shall be happy to shew them to you at any time.
Thank you, Miss Herbert: if I lived near, I should be much obliged by your kind offer; I am sorry you live so far off.
Miss Herbert is too much favoured by nature to require a great deal of ornament, observed Felix. I always think a very fine dress disguises a pretty woman.“The L11r 237
The mantuamakers and milliners would not approve your sentiments, said Mary, and the balls would look very dull if the ladies were plainly attired. Lady Morrington gave a magnificent ball when she was in town; I liked it much, and though I hardly knew a man in the room, had partners innumerable, and very good ones.
And lovers too, no doubt?
No adorers, I assure you, they are in great scarcity; indeed, I am almost persuaded I shall be an old maid, and wear the willow, in spite of the number of husbands the world has given me.
Then you will break some tender lovesick swain’s vulnerable heart, I am convinced.
Hearts are tough things, not easily broke. I was at an assembly likewise, of a relation’s of Mrs. Fane, whose house is elegantly furnished; lady Morrington I met there, who looked very handsome.
Rose smiled, and Mary Herbert continued—tinued L11v 238 tinued—You are amused, because you recollect that your sister Jane and I could never agree on the formidable subject of beauty; it has often been the subject of those little disagreements, which a tear from one side, and a smile from the other, constantly made up.
May we never meet with worse in our pilgrimage here, Miss! exclaimed Jerry. You must allow me to be of my little merry Miss Jane’s opinion: I do not think lady Morrington has much pretension to personal attraction.
I’ll mention some ladies to you, replied Miss Herbert, that will please your taste, however fastidious. If they were in town, nobody could be compared to them, or so much admired—I mean Miss Douglas and her sister.
Rose blushed, when sir Henry and Mr. Jerry said she had undoubtedly been assured they would both agree with her on that point, and endeavoured to change the conversation, which soon turned on a rural L12r 239 rural entertainment lord Morrington intended to give the following week. Felix and his sisters were invited, but Rose declined going, as her sister was ill; yet Jane and herself persuaded their brother to be of the party, as his pleasures and enjoyments were a source of gratification to them.
Sir Henry Arundel was now a frequent visitor. He always admired Miss Douglas, and thinking she was disengaged, allowed his passion and admiration for her to imperceptibly increase: it was nourished by continual interviews, which he obtained under the pretext of visiting her brother, to whom he was very attentive. Rose was delighted to perceive his growing friendship for Felix, knowing that he might be of service in procuring promotion in the army for her brother, as his connexions were high in rank, and had great interest with persons who could serve him.
The increasing indisposition of Jane daily grew more evident, and became at length perceptible to her brother and sister.ter. L12v 240 ter. It poisoned the happiness Rose would otherwise have enjoyed, as a letter received from her mother for the first time created a hope of her and her father’s speedy return. At the period of her writing, sir James was taken more alarmingly and dangerously ill. Jane had never received any answer to the letter which she had written to colonel Guilford, and this circumstance both surprised and afflicted her. Her sister had proposed devoting half of the sum allowed them yearly by the general for their clothes and pocket-money, to the support of the child, which joined together, would be sufficient for its maintenance while an infant; yet she could not endure the reflection of depriving Rose of the money she required to appear as a lady, though she had assured her, that with strict economy she could manage extremely well. From Guilford’s continued silence, Jane concluded that, tired of her, he was glad to get rid of an expensive encumbrance, and this cruel thought, by increasinging M1r 241 ing her indisposition, slowly injured her constitution.
The little babe had been christened and named Caroline, after their mother. Rose had it more frequently brought to Treharne, with the hope of gratifying and amusing her sister, not suspecting that the sight of it added to her anguish. It daily improved in health and beauty, being carefully nursed, under the watchful eye of dame Brownson, who doted on it, as well as the honest miller, her husband. Rose grew every day more attached to the infant, and parted from it with reluctance. It was a perfect model of infantine loveliness, and so good-tempered, that it scarcely ever cried. Rose sketched a little drawing of it, which she gave to Jane, who said, as she received it—I wish I had died at her age; then I should have been innocent and happy.
Rose shuddered.—I cannot regret, she replied, that you did not die at Caroline’s age, for then I should have missed Vol. II. M much M1v 242 much happiness, which your society affords, and I trust, dear Jane, we may both live to enjoy more pleasure together.
Sir Eglamour, who was very fond of children, tossed and danced it about continually, being particularly interested for the pretty Caroline, as he understood it was the orphan child of a friend that Rose valued. He was quite enlivened, when the intelligence of the general and his lady’s expectation of soon returning was communicated to him; it inspired the sweet hope that he would soon have it in his power to call his lovely friend his own. With the anxiety of a mind truly attached, he was apprehensive that if their marriage did not speedily take place, some unforeseen event might deprive him of the dear object of his faithful regard. If the battalion of his regiment to which he belonged should unexpectedly be ordered abroad, he trembled to leave her, unless their fates were united. He beheld her admired and loved, even by those of the highest M2r 243 highest rank and fortune, which made him miserable, till she was irrevocably his. Devoid of vanity, he was not conscious that all those who caused him an uneasy moment were considerably inferior to him in every respect, and that he had no cause to doubt her fidelity, who considered him superior to the whole world, and whose faith the greatest temptations could not shake or alter.
Sir Eglamour had lately been deprived of the felicity of seeing her as often as he wished, from being engaged on a troublesome and disagreeable duty. Very great depredations had been committed in the neighbourhood, and by the sea-side; houses and cottages had been plundered, and several travellers robbed and wounded. Suspicion was directed to a gang of smugglers, that had infested the sea-shore and adjacent places for many years. Sir Eglamour and his soldiers were employed in watching and scouring the country for some miles round, in search of them. Not one M2 of M2v 244 of them had ever been apprehended, and the party which sir Eglamour commanded was ordered to be augmented by government, and to be active in their exertions to discover the haunts and retreat of these desperate marauders.
These smugglers were reckoned the most vigilant and daring band that had ever been known. It was reported that they were so ferocious and sanguinary, that not one of them would be taken without a furious resistance, which made Rose very unhappy, fearful any accident might happen to her lover, as the wretches lay in ambush, and fired, without being found out, very frequently at the soldiers.
One day, when Felix was absent at Morrington Castle, and sir Eglamour engaged in this perilous duty, which had detained him from her for some time, Rose was conversing with Jane, in her retired apartment, in nearly as melancholy a mood as herself. It is true, she heard every day from her lover by his servant; but only a few M3r 245 few hurried lines, that poorly compensated for the loss of his beloved and captivating society, and did not reconcile her to the dangers he was likely to encounter.
Their gloomy conversation was interrupted by Kamira, who gave Miss Douglas a note, saying, the gentleman who delivered it waited in the library for an answer. Imagine her astonishment, when she perused the note, to find it was from colonel Guilford, who said he wished to have the honour of speaking to her, as he was afraid, if he had asked incautiously for her sister first, it would have alarmed her, as he understood, with sorrow, that she was not in good health. As Rose perused this, she felt indescribable horror at the idea of beholding the man who had been the cause of Jane’s severe sufferings, and perhaps eventually her destroyer. Very reluctantly she arose to go and meet him. Absorbed in her own melancholy reflections, Jane did not notice her sister’s trepidation,M3 dation, M3v 246 dation, who, with slow and reluctant steps, reached the library.
Here she found a person, apparently in the meridian of life, neither handsome or ugly, who had a gentlemanly air. He apologized politely for intruding, after the deception he had been guilty of, which he knew was exceedingly reprehensible; but he hoped she would allow (after an explanation) that he was not so much to blame as she had probably hitherto thought. Rose begged him to be seated, saying, she should be happy to hear any justifiable extenuation of a conduct that she feared would prove fatal to her sister; and as she pronounced these words, she could not refrain from shedding involuntary tears, overcome with excessive depression at seeing the man who had irreparably injured poor Jane, and entailed affliction on herself and family.
He changed countenance, and betrayed deep emotion at perceiving how much she was M4r 247 was affected, and faltered out, that it would agonize him to hear that her sister’s life was endangered. Rose sighed, and said she hoped not, though she could not repress the acuteness of her feelings when she beheld a striking alteration for the worse every day.
For Heaven’s sake let me go to her! he exclaimed. Perhaps, when she learns I repent that I have ruined her peace, she may forgive me, and it may sooth her to think I am not so black a villain as I have appeared.
Rose secretly flattered herself, that an interview with him might be advantageous to Jane, recollecting that she had pined and mourned, not only for having been ungenerously deceived, but at his cruel and unfeeling neglect of her and his child. Though she detested the sight of this perfidious man, Rose desired colonel Guilford to remain in the library till she sent for him, as she was going to prepare her sister for the interview he requested.M4 Rose M4v 248
Rose flew hastily to Jane’s apartment, and by gentle degrees communicated who was in the house, and wished to see her. In the weakened state of her health, this information had at first an alarming effect, and hysteric fits shook her fragile form; but when she recovered, and her agitation was a little subsided, she consented to see the author of her ruin.
Rose now dispatched Kamira for colonel Guilford, and he was introduced in a few minutes into the presence of the young unfortunate creature he had barbarously injured. Her complexion was transparent with illness; the blue veins were distinctly seen in her white temples, and the most beautiful hectic bloom tinted her cheek—it was too brilliant for health; and her large dark-blue eyes, where the tear of sensibility still glistened, were like violets glittering with the early dew of morning.
His frame shook with unutterable sensations of remorse, at viewing the dreadfulful M5r 249 ful change, that had occasioned an alteration in her personal appearance that must touch every feeling mind; and neither of them could articulate for some minutes. When he had recovered fortitude and recollection, he thus addressed her—I acknowledge my behaviour to you has been very criminal; but I hope you will consider it as some excuse, that when I was very young, and quite a soldier of fortune, I became thoughtlessly entangled with some worthless brother-officers, who led me into great dissipation and extravagance. I was so deeply involved in debt, that I married a woman of large fortune, much older than myself, to extricate me from these severe difficulties. We never lived happily together, and have been separated many years. Considering myself, for so long a period, as a single man, I yielded imprudently to the impression you made on me; but I should never have imposed a pretended marriage on you, had it not been from the persuasions of Mrs. Pryce, M5 whom M5v 250 whom I liberally paid for her advice and assistance in this guilty affair. It may be truly observed, that when a woman is vicious and unworthy, she conducts herself with more depravity than the most abandoned man. I have known her a long time as the mistress of a particular friend of mine; and though she committed that error, I really did not judge her with severity, nor imagine she was so wicked. It irritates me to madness, to reflect that she had dared to so grossly insult you.
Jane now related to him every particular of Mrs. Pryce’s insolence and vulgarity, which she could not clearly and minutely explain in a letter. This diffuse and shocking detail of her brutality, which might have been attended with more fatal consequences in her then interesting situation, apparently overwhelmed him with horror and grief. He assured Jane, while he expressed his deep concern for what had passed, that if he became a widower, and she would deign to accept him, it would M6r 251 would be the whole study of his future life to make her happy. He likewise, as an excuse for his ill-temper and violence when they resided together, confessed that it proceeded from the gnawings of his conscience, that constantly reproached him for the base part he was acting, which made him churlish and passionate, though he was severely to be condemned for venting his discontent and irascible humour on his innocent victim.
To this penitent confession Jane made no reply, but began talking of their infant. Colonel Guilford said he should very much like to see it, and Jane then shewed him the picture Rose had painted of Caroline. He was enraptured with the infant beauty, and repeatedly kissed it, entreating, as the greatest favour, that she would make a copy of it for him. Miss Douglas promised she would, and informed him where Caroline was at nurse, that he might go and visit his child, as a relation of its deceased parents. He mentionedM6 ed M6v 252 ed also, that he should pay the dame for the expence of the infant being under her care, which relieved Jane from a great deal of anxiety.
After more interesting conversation, he proposed, in the most pleasing and insinuating manner, that Jane should return to Hemeridge Cottage, as he thought the change of air and scene would be of service, in her critical state of health. She could there, without any restraint, walk about the garden and wood, nor fear being observed by any of her acquaintance, and he would visit her daily, merely as a friend, nothing more, as he should not feel an hour’s peace of mind till her health was re-established. At Hemeridge he could frequently take her out an airing in a carriage, and fetch little Caroline to entertain her, which would contribute effectually, he considered, to her complete recovery.
Jane was evidently inclined to comply with this proposal of colonel Guilford’s, had not her sister looked expressively at her, M7r 253 her, with a glance that evinced her disapprobation. Then turning to Guilford, Rose thus addressed him—I shall undoubtedly incur your displeasure for interfering; but that I must risk, and entreat, if you have the least attachment and regard for my sister’s happiness, to refrain from persuading her to again place herself under your protection. Your proposition would ultimately lead to it; be friends, therefore, at a distance, and do not entangle yourselves in a situation that will only end in misery. Should any change occur, and you find yourself free, you will then be at liberty to make amends for past misconduct, and I shall feel delighted to acknowledge you as a relation. I have a right to disclose my sentiments, from having been a severe sufferer in this unfortunate affair, and from loving Jane sincerely. This affection makes me solicitous to shield her from additional misfortune, by not allowing her, if possible, to commit a second fault. The first error, caused by inexperiencerience M7v 254 rience and giddiness, is to be forgiven; but if she errs again, wilfully and willingly, I must disclaim her as a sister, and, however painful, renounce her for ever.
Colonel Guilford calmly endured her remonstrances, which she did not expect. He knew that her observations were just, and that it would be of little avail to oppose them at that moment, as Jane was evidently inclined then to be governed by her sister’s opinion. He soon after took an affectionate farewell of Jane, to the great relief of Rose, who, though she had summoned courage to address him, was frightened mentally at what she had said. She dreaded Guilford’s anger; but her sister’s virtue and peace were at stake—the tranquillity and honour of the whole family, and this gave her resolution, though trembling, to brace the fury her spirited behaviour might excite; but, fortunately, his composure agreeably disappointed her.
Jane thanked her sister for having saved her, by her sensible interposition, from greater M8r 255 greater evil than she had yet known, adding, that if she had been persuaded by Guilford to act erroneously again, she would have been guilty without an excuse, and erred with her eyes open. It was mere want of thought, she observed, that made her at first not object to his proposal, which, on reflection, she considered as exceedingly artful, and was intended, she suspected, to plunge her into the abyss of guilt, from which she had happily been rescued. Jane concluded with saying, that she wished always in future to be guided by Rose, and was determined on every occasion to consult her, as she should ever distrust her own judgment. From the period of her interview with Guilford, her spirits daily grew better, though her health continued very precarious, from the shock her constitution had encountered. It was a consolation to Jane, to discover that she was not despised or neglected by the man in whom she had placed unlimiteded M8v 256 ed confidence, and that he resented and abhorred the low brutality of Mrs. Pryce.
The native gaiety that distinguished the disposition of Rose was now restored and exhilarated by the renewed cheerfulness of her sister. She had persuaded Jane to accompany her to the drawing-room, where the windows commanded a view of whoever approached the house. No visitors could enter without being ferried over, and she would have time to retreat, if any person called that she did not wish to see. Rose was conversing, with her usual sprightliness, as she sat working at one of the windows, till all at once she ceased speaking. Jane asked her a question, to which she did not reply, but starting up, suddenly exclaimed—He is come! and ran directly out of the room.
Jane approached the window to discover the cause of this agitation, and smiled at perceiving sir Eglamour alight from his horse, which was an explanation of her precipitate M9r 257 precipitate departure and unexpected perturbation. That she might not interrupt their felicity, Jane hastily retired, conscious that the presence of a third person is gladly dispensed with, when two lovers have been separated a long time—at least what appears to them a tedious interval, when they are sincerely attached. Two hours she remained alone, without seeing or hearing any thing of her sister. Tired of reading and playing on her lute, she began to wish for her company, as she was seldom, when at home, so long absent, even if engaged with the object of her most tender affection.
While these reflections occupied her mind, she heard her sister’s well-known footsteps on the stairs. Rose entered— but how changed! Vanished was the enlivened countenance, expressive of purest happiness and vivacity; her blooming face was white as the Parian marble, and her eyes swoln with weeping.—Few and transient, thought Jane, are the moments of M9v 258 of enjoyment! My sister is destined to feel they are indeed fleeting. Instead of articulating a single word, she threw herself on the sofa, and wept anew; then sobbed as if her heart would break.
What is the cause of this sorrow? asked, Jane, who had never seen her so suddenly and violently affected before.
Oh, Jane! he’s gone! he’s torn from me!—the best, the handsomest, the most noble and affectionate of men!
Whom do you mean? replied Jane. I am astonished to hear you, who have talked so much about fortitude and resignation, behave in this vehement incoherent manner. You betray more weakness than I could have imagined. This is but a poor example for me: it is easy, I perceive, to preach and give advice, when our feelings are not concerned.
Jane spoke thus harshly, on purpose to rouse her from her excessive grief. It appeared to have an effect, for Rose immediately dried her tears, and exclaimed, “Whom M10r 259 Whom could I mean but sir Eglamour? Do I love another?
Once you did—you wept bitterly for Courtenay’s loss.
Was he good, like him I am now attached to?—would he have sacrificed any thing for me?—No! but sir Eglamour would devote his existence—would disgrace himself—would sacrifice his honour, brave and virtuous as he is, to please me, though his character, his integrity, are dearer to him than life.
Jane was delighted to think that, by an appearance of ill-nature and severity, she had dispelled the agonizing sensations of anguish that overwhelmed her sister. When she was restored to composure, she confessed that the intelligence of sir Eglamour’s being ordered to embark with his battalion for Holland in a few days was the occasion of her frantic sorrow, as she pictured to herself the dangers he might have to encounter, which would perhaps deprive her of him for ever. That agonizing M10v 260 agonizing reflection made her nearly distracted. Rose added, that in the midst of her grief Felix entered. Though he scolded her very much for yielding to sadness, and having so little resolution, which made her unworthy to be a soldier’s wife, he kindly insisted that sir Eglamour should reside at Treharne during the short time he was to remain at Exeter, before he set off on his intended expedition.
In consequence of this invitation from Felix, sir Eglamour was gone to the city to make the proper arrangements, and order what was requisite. In the evening he was to return to Treharne, where he would continue till the morning he commenced his march to the place of embarkation.
Rose concluded with observing, that the kindness of Felix in inviting her lover to their house was a balsam to her wounded bosom.
It was now that Jane assumed the painful office of comforter to Rose, and administered that soothing consolation she M11r 261 she had received from her in the moment of distress. She mingled the tears of sympathy with her when she wept the approaching loss of her beloved and excellent sir Eglamour. Jane represented to her that this expedition to the coast of Holland, in which sir Eglamour was engaged, and ordered to embark with the rest of the troops, would probably remain there only two or three months. This consoling suggestion, which inspired the hope that he would soon be restored to her, was the greatest relief to her affectionate and ardent mind.
Three days did sir Eglamour pass entirely at Treharne. Too soon did those delicious hours glide away like an enchanting dream, though shaded with sad regret, when occasionally the recollection obtruded in their moments of exquisite happiness, that they were shortly to part. While the lovers were together, it seemed as if misfortune dared not approach them; but on the morning of the fourth day, when M11v 262 when sir Eglamour was to quit her as early as five o’clock, all their felicity vanished, while the remembrance of the blissful days they had enjoyed heightened the pangs of separation; yet each concealed their sufferings, to avoid increasing the misery the other felt.
Rose was dressed at four o’clock, and had breakfast prepared for her lover to refresh him before he began his march; but neither of them could eat.
Felix conversed cheerfully on a variety of indifferent subjects, to divert them from thinking of their situation. His sister knew his kind nature, and courageously checked the convulsive grief that inwardly rent her agitated bosom; but she would not trust herself to speak, fearful that her faltering voice would shake sir Eglamour’s fortitude. When he was to set out, she would walk with him and Felix to the spot where he was to join his men; it was about a mile from Treharne, by the side of a road that was on their march, where M12r 263 where his servant waited for him with his horse.
Before they reached this place of destination, Miss Douglas heard at a distance the sound of the drums and other instruments of martial music. She turned very pale at these signals, which gave notice of their approaching separation, and unable, if she remained longer with her lover, to suppress the keenness of her feelings, she told him she should not proceed any farther. They snatched a hasty embrace, and not daring to venture a second look at each other, sir Eglamour pursued his route with Felix, and Rose returned to Treharne with Kamira, who had followed them when they left home, according to her young lady’s desire.
When they arrived at their ancient abode, Jane was waiting to receive them, being anxious to learn how her sister had supported this trying scene. Rose reclined her head on her shoulder, and for the first time indulged her sorrow, weepinging M12v 264 ing and lamenting the deprivation of her amiable lover with all the luxury of unfeigned woe and sincerity of a truly-attached heart.
Kamira now related to Miss Jane Douglas with what fortitude and calmness Rose had behaved, that she might not unman and afflict sir Eglamour with the sight of her distress.
Jane praised her for this exemplary behaviour in the most energetic terms. She admired a conduct so devoid of selfishness, that from regard for him conquered the anguish that oppressed her.
Felix came back in an hour, and likewise applauded the command over her feelings, which had spared sir Eglamour a severe conflict and many torturing sensations. Her brother also commended the spirit and sentiments of an Irishwoman, one of the soldiers’ wives, who, as she took leave of her husband, exhorted him to behave bravely for the credit of his king and country, saying, she would ratherther N1r 265 ther hear he was dead, than learn that he had behaved cowardly. Sir Eglamour and his brother-officers praised her as she merited, and the soldiers cheered her as she went off.
Several days had elapsed since the departure of sir Eglamour, when about twelve o’clock one night, the moon shone bright and clear, and all the family at Treharne Hall having retired early to rest, were buried in the arms of sleep. At this period, when silence and tranquillity reigned undisturbed, the wheels of a postchaise, at some distance, were distinctly heard, from the stillness of the night, rattling rapidly along. The chaise was driven with swiftness till it reached the banks of the little river that meandered till it flowed near and washed the walls of the old mansion where Felix and his sisters at present calmly reposed.
Mrs. Douglas was in this postchaise, with Mr. Moncrief, a Scotch gentleman, Vol. II. N a particular N1v 266 a particular friend of the general’s, who being obliged to remain at Edinburgh, had confided his lady to the care of this friend. They both arrived, much fatigued, opposite the habitation of Mrs. Douglas, from which she had been so long banished.
Eagerly she desired the postillion to stop, as her heart beat high with rapture to think she should soon behold her loved children, and enfold them in her maternal embrace: but too transitory was this sweet emotion; consternation, horror, and affliction, overwhelmed her, when she viewed aghast, by the light of the moon, which caused every surrounding object to be plainly seen, a volume of smoke arising from that wing of Treharne Hall that was generally uninhabited. Mrs. Douglas uttered an affecting cry of anguish and terror, and while Mr. Moncrief looked at her with mingled pity and concern, that side of the building became enveloped in flames, N2r 267 flames, which burst out from the windows.
The conflagration appeared to be spreading rapidly, and threatened destruction to the whole edifice, while the red reflection in the horizon announced that the mansion was on fire.
Mr. Moncrief implored Mrs. Douglas to remain in the postchaise. He told the postillion to alarm the neighbourhood and procure assistance, for which he should be well rewarded, and then loudly himself sounded the bugle. This done, he got into the boat, and rowing to the Hall steps, rang the door-bell with violence. Ponto barked furiously, and these combined sounds quickly succeeded in rousing and alarming the family.
Mrs. Douglas heard the piercing shrieks of her daughters. It was a relief they were awakened, and would not perish in the flames, as their apartments were considerably distant from the wing of the structure N2v 268 structure where the fire commenced, which appeared to be making greater devastation than it really had.
End of Vol. II.
J. Darling Leadenhall-Street.