Part 3 out of 9
"But Lady Juliana, sir, has never been accustomed--"
"Let her serve an apprenticeship to your aunts; she couldna be in a
"But her education, sir, has been so different from what would be
required in that station," resumed her husband, choking with vexation,
at the idea of his beauteous high-born bride being doomed to the
drudgery of household cares.
"Edication! what has her edication been, to mak' her different frae
other women? If a woman can nurse her bairns, mak' their claes, and
manage her hoose, what mair need she do? If she can playa tune on the
spinnet, and dance a reel, and play a rubber at whist--nae doot these
are accomplishments, but they're soon learnt. Edication! pooh!--I'll be
bound Leddy Jully Anie wull mak' as gude a figure by-and-by as the best
edicated woman in the country."
"But she dislikes the country, and--"
"She'll soon come to like it. Wait a wee till she has a wheen bairns,
an' a hoose o' her ain, an' I'll be bound she'll be happy as the day's
"But the climate does not agree with her," continued the tender husband,
almost driven to extremities by the persevering simplicity of his
"Stay a wee till she gets to Clackandow! There's no a finer, freer-aired
situation in a' Scotland. The air's sharpish, to be sure, but fine and
bracing; and you have a braw peat-moss at your back to keep you warm."
Finding it in vain to attempt _insinuating_ his objections to a pastoral
life, poor Henry was at length reduced to the necessity of coming to the
point with the old gentleman, and telling him plainly that it was not at
all suited to his inclinations, or Lady Juliana's rank and beauty.
Vain would be the attempt to paint the fiery wrath and indignation of
the ancient Highlander as the naked truth stood revealed before
him:--that his son despised the occupation of his fathers, even the
feeding of sheep and the breeding of black cattle; and that his
high-born spouse was above fulfilling those duties which he had ever
considered the chief end for which woman was created. He swore, stamped,
screamed, and even skipped with rage, and, in short, went through all
the evolutions as usually performed by testy old gentlemen on first
discovering that they have disobedient sons and undutiful daughters.
Henry, who, though uncommonly good-tempered, inherited a portion of his
father's warmth, became at length irritated at the invectives that were
so liberally bestowed on him, and replied in language less respectful
than the old Laird was accustomed to hear; and the altercation became so
violent that they parted in mutual anger; Henry returning to his wife's
apartment in a state of the greatest disquietude he had ever known. To
her childish complaints, and tiresome complaints, he no longer
vouchsafed to reply, but paced the chamber with a disordered mien, in
sullen silence; till at length, distracted by her reproaches, and
disgusted with her selfishness, he rushed from the apartment and quitted
"Never talk to me; I will weep."
_As You Like It._
TWICE had the dinner bell been loudly sounded by old Donald, and the
family of Glenfern were all assembled, yet their fashionable guests had
not appeared. Impatient of delay, Miss Jacky hastened to ascertain the
cause. Presently she returned in the utmost perturbation, and announced
that Lady Juliana was in bed in a high fever, and Henry nowhere to be
found. The whole eight rushed upstairs to ascertain the fact, leaving
the old gentleman much discomposed at this unseasonable delay.
Some time elapsed ere they again returned, which they did with
lengthened faces, and in extreme perturbation. They had found their
noble niece, according to Miss Jacky's report, in bed-according to Miss
Grizzy's opinion, in a brain fever; as she no sooner perceived them
enter, than she covered her head with the bedclothes, and continued
screaming for them to be gone, till they had actually quitted the
"And what proves beyond a doubt that our sweet niece is not herself,"
continued poor Miss Grizzy, in a lamentable tone, "is that we appeared
to her in every form but our own! She sometimes took us for cats; then
thought we were ghosts haunting her; and, in short, it is impossible to
tell all the things she called us; and she screams so for Harry to come
and take her away that I am sure--I declare--I don't know what's come
Mrs. Douglas could scarce suppress a smile at the simplicity of the good
spinsters. Her husband and she had gone out immediately after breakfast
to pay a visit a few miles off, and did not return till near the dinner
hour. They were therefore ignorant of all that had been acted during
their absence; but as she suspected something was amiss, she requested
the rest of the company would proceed to dinner, and leave her to
ascertain the nature of Lady Juliana's disorder.
"Don't come near me!" shrieked her Ladyship, on hearing the door open.
"Send Harry to take me away; I don't want anybody but Harry!"--and a
torrent of tears, sobs, and exclamations followed.
"My dear Lady Juliana," said Mrs. Douglas, softly approaching the bed,
"compose yourself; and if my presence is disagreeable to you I shall
"Oh, is it you?" cried her sister-in-law, uncovering her face at the
sound of her voice. "I thought it had been these frightful old women
come to torment me; and I shall die--I know I shall--if ever I look at
them again. But I don't dislike _you;_ so you may stay if you choose,
though I don't want anybody but Harry to come and take me away."
A fresh fit of sobbing here impeded her utterance; and Mrs. Douglas,
compassionating her distress, while she despised her folly, seated
herself by the bedside, and taking her hand, in the sweetest tone of
complacency attempted to soothe her into composure.
"The only way in which you can be less miserable," said Mrs. Douglas in
a soothing tone, "is to support your present situation with patience,
which you may do by looking forward to brighter prospects. It is
_possible_ that your stay here may be short; and it is _certain_ that it
is in your own power to render your life more agreeable by endeavouring
to accommodate yourself to the peculiarities of your husband's family.
No doubt they are often tiresome and ridiculous; but they are always
kind and well-meaning."
"You may say what you please, but I think them all odious creatures;
and I won't live here with patience; and I shan't be agreeable to them;
and all the talking in the world won't make me less miserable. If you
were me, you would be just the same; but you have never been in
London--that's the reason."
"Pardon me," replied her sister-in-law, "I spent many years of my life
"You lived in London!" repeated Lady Juliana in astonishment. "And how,
then, can you contrive to exist here?"
"I not only contrive to exist, but to be extremely contented with
existence," said Mrs. Douglas, with a smile. Then assuming a more
serious air, "I possess health, peace of mind, and the affections of a
worthy husband; and I should be very undeserving of these blessings were
I to give way to useless regrets or indulge in impious repinings because
my happiness might once have been more perfect, and still admits of
"I don't understand you," said Lady Juliana, with a peevish yawn. "Who
did you live with in London?"
"With my aunt, Lady Audley."
"With Lady Audley!" repeated her sister-in-law in accents of
astonishment. "Why, I have heard of her; she lived quite in the world;
and gave balls and assemblies; so that's the reason you are not so
disagreeable as the rest of them. Why did you not remain with her, or
marry an Englishman? But I suppose, like me, you didn't know what
Happy to have excited an interest, even through the medium of childish
curiosity, in the bosom of her fashionable relative, Mrs. Douglas
briefly related such circumstances of her past life as she judged proper
to communicate; but as she sought rather to amuse than instruct by her
simple narrative, we shall allow her to pursue her charitable
intentions, while we do more justice to her character by introducing her
regularly to the acquaintance of our readers.
History of Mrs. Douglas.
"The selfish heart deserves the pang it feels;
More generous sorrow, while it sinks, exalts, And
conscious virtue mitigates the pang."
MRS. DOUGLAS was, on the maternal side, related to an English family.
Her mother had died in giving birth to her; and her father, shortly
after, falling in the service of his country, she had been consigned in
infancy to the care of her aunt. Lady Audley had taken charge of her, on
condition that she should never be claimed by her Scottish relations,
for whom that lady entertained as much aversion as contempt. A latent
feeling of affection for her departed sister, and a large portion of
family pride, had prompted her wish of becoming the protectress of her
orphan niece; and, possessed of a high sense of rectitude and honour,
she fulfilled the duty thus voluntarily imposed in a manner that secured
the unshaken gratitude of the virtuous Alicia.
Lady Audley was a character more esteemed and feared than loved, even by
those with whom she was most intimate. Firm, upright, and rigid, she
exacted from others those inflexible virtues which in herself she found
no obstacle to performing. Neglecting these softer attractions which
shed their benign influence over the commerce of social life, she was
content to enjoy the extorted esteem of her associates; for friends she
had none. She sought in the world for objects to fill up the void which
her heart could not supply. She loved _eclat,_ and had succeeded
in creating herself an existence of importance in the circles of high
life, which she considered more as due to her consequence than essential
to her enjoyment. She had early in life been left a widow, with the sole
tutelage and management of an only son, whose large estate she regulated
with the most admirable prudence and judgment.
Alicia Malcolm was put under the care of her aunt at two years of age. A
governess had been procured for her, whose character was such as not to
impair the promising dispositions of her pupil. Alicia was gifted by
nature with a warm affectionate heart, and a calm imagination attempered
its influence. Her governess, a woman of a strong understanding and
enlarged mind, early instilled into her a deep and strong sense of
religion; and to it she owed the support which had safely guided her
through the most trying vicissitudes.
When at the age of seventeen Alicia Malcolm was produced in the world.
She was a rational, cheerful, and sweet-tempered girl, with a finely
formed person, and a countenance in which was so clearly painted the
sunshine of her breast, that it attracted the _bienveillance_ even of
those who had not taste or judgment to define the charm. Her open
natural manner, blending the frankness of the Scotch with the polished
reserve of the English woman, her total exemption from vanity,
calculated alike to please others and maintain her own cheerfulness
undimmed by a single cloud.
Lady Audley felt for her niece a sentiment which she mistook for
affection; her self-approbation was gratified at the contemplation of a
being who owed every advantage to her, and whom she had rescued from the
coarseness and vulgarity which she deemed inseparable from the manners
of every Scotchwoman. If Lady Audley really loved any human being it was
her son. In him were centred her dearest interests; on his
aggrandisement and future importance hung her most sanguine hopes. She
had acted contrary to the advice of her male relations, and followed her
own judgment, by giving her son a private education. He was brought up
under her own eye by a tutor of deep erudition, but who was totally
unfitted for forming the mind, and compensating for those advantages
which may be derived from a public education. The circumstances of his
education, however, combined rather to stifle the exposure than to
destroy the existence of some very dangerous qualities that seemed
inherent in Sir Edmund's nature. He was ardent, impetuous, and
passionate, though these propensities were cloaked by a reserve, partly
natural, and partly arising from of his mother and tutor.
His was not the effervescence of character which bursts forth on every
trivial occasion; but when any powerful cause awakened the slumbering
inmates, of his breast, they blazed with an uncontrolled fury that
defied all opposition, and overleaped all bounds of reason and decorum.
Experience often shows us that minds formed of the most opposite
attributes more forcibly attract each other than those which appear cast
in the same mould. The source of this fascination is difficult to trace;
it possesses not reason for its basis, yet it is perhaps the more
tyrannical in its influence from that very cause. The weakness of our
natures occasionally makes us feel a potent charm in "errors of a noble
Sir Edmund Audley and Alicia Malcolm proved examples of this
observation. The affection of childhood had so gradually ripened into a
warmer sentiment, that neither was conscious of the nature of that
sentiment till after it had attained strength to cast a material
influence on their after lives. The familiarity of near relatives
associating constantly together produced a warm sentiment of affection,
cemented by similarity of pursuits, and enlivened by diversity of
character; while the perfect tranquillity of their lives afforded no
event that could withdraw the veil of ignorance from their eyes.
Could a woman of Lady Audley's discernment, it may be asked, place
two young persons in such a situation, and doubt the consequences? Those
who are no longer young are liable to forget that love is a plant of
early growth, and that the individuals that they have but a short time
before beheld placing their supreme felicity on a rattle and a go-cart
can so soon be actuated by the strongest passions of the human
Sir Edmund completed his nineteenth year, and Alicia entered her
eighteenth, when this happy state of unconscious security was destroyed
by a circumstance which rent the veil from her eyes, and disclosed his
sentiments in all their energy and warmth. This circumstance was no
other than a proposal of marriage to Alicia from a gentleman of large
fortune and brilliant connexions who resided in their neighbourhood. His
character was as little calculated as his appearance to engage the
affections of a young woman of delicacy and good sense. But he was a man
of consequence; heir to an earldom; member for the county; and Lady
Audley, rejoicing at what she termed Alicia's good fortune, determined
that she should become his wife.
With mild firmness she rejected the honour intended her; but it was
with difficulty that Lady Audley's mind could adopt or understand the
idea of an opposition to her wishes. She could not seriously embrace the
conviction that Alicia was determined to disobey her; and in order to
bring her to a right understanding she underwent a system of persecution
that tended naturally to increase the antipathy her suitor had inspired.
Lady Audley, with the indiscriminating zeal of prejudiced and
overbearing persons, strove to recommend him to her niece br all those
attributes which were of value in her own eyes; making allowance for a
certain degree of in decision in her niece, but never admitting a doubt
that in due time her will should be obeyed, as it had always hitherto been.
At this juncture Sir Edmund came down to the country, and was struck by
the altered looks and pensive manners of his once cheerful cousin. About
a week after his arrival he found Alicia one morning in tears, after a
long conversation with Lady Audley. Sir Edmund tenderly soothed her, and
entreated to be made acquainted with the cause of her distress. She was
so habituated to impart every thought to her cousin, the intimacy and
sympathy of their souls were so entire, that she would not have
concealed the late occurrence from him had she not been withheld by the
natural timidity and delicacy a young woman feels in making her own
conquests the subject of conversation. But now so pathetically and
irresistibly persuaded by Sir Edmund, and sensible that every distress
of hers wounded his heart, Alicia candidly related to him the pursuit of
her disagreeable suitor, and the importunities of Lady Audley in his
favour. Every word she had spoken had more and, more dispelled the mist
that had so long hung over Sir Edmund's inclinations. At the first
mention of a suitor, he had felt that to be hers was a happiness that
comprised all others; and that the idea of losing her made the whole of
existence appear a frightful blank. These feelings were no sooner known
to himself than spontaneously poured into her delighted ears; while she
felt that every sentiment met a kindred one in her breast. Alicia sought
not a moment to disguise those feelings, which she now, for the first
time, became aware of; they were known to the object of her innocent
affection as soon as to herself, and both were convinced that, though
not conscious before of the nature of their sentiments, love had long
been mistaken for friendship in their hearts.
But this state of blissful serenity did not last long. On the evening of
the following day Lady Audley sent for her to her dressing-room. On
entering, Alicia was panic-struck at her aunt's pale countenance, fiery
eyes, and frame convulsed with passion. With difficulty Lady Audley,
struggling for calmness, demanded an instant and decided reply to the
proposals of Mr. Compton, the gentleman who had solicited her hand.
Alicia entreated her aunt to waive the subject, as she found it
impossible ever to consent to such a union.
Scarcely was her answer uttered when Lady Audley's anger burst forth
uncontrollably. She accused her niece of the vilest ingratitude in
having seduced her son from the obedience he owed his mother; of having
plotted to ally her base Scotch blood to the noble blood of the Audleys;
and, having exhausted every opprobrious epithet, she was forced to stop
from want of breath to proceed. As Alicia listened to the cruel,
unfounded reproaches of her aunt, her spirit rose under the unmerited
ill-usage, but her conscience absolved her from all intention of
injuring or deceiving a human being; and she calmly waited till Lady
Audley's anger should have exhausted itself, and then entreated to know
what part of her conduct had excited her aunt's displeasure.
Lady Audley's reply was diffuse and intemperate. Alicia gathered from
it that her rage had its source in a declaration her son had made to her
of his affection for his cousin, and his resolution of marrying her as
soon as he was of age; which open avowal of his sentiments had followed
Lady Audley's injunctions to him to forward the suit of Mr. Compton.
That her son, for whom she had in view one of the first matches in the
kingdom, should dare to choose for himself; and, above all, to choose
one whom she considered as much his inferior in birth as she was in
fortune, was a circumstance quite insupportable to her feelings.
Of the existence of love Lady Audley had little conception; and she
attributed her son's conduct to wilful disobedience and obstinacy. In
proportion as she had hitherto found him complying and gentle, her wrath
had kindled at his present firmness and inflexibility. So bitter were
her reflections on his conduct, so severe her animadversions on the
being he loved, that Sir Edmund, fired with resentment, expressed his
resolution of acting according to the dictates of his own will; and
expressed his contempt for her authority in terms the most unequivocal.
Lady Audley, ignorant of the arts of persuasion, by every word she
uttered more and more widened the breach her imperiousness had
occasioned, until Sir Edmund, feeling himself no longer master of his
temper, announced his intention of leaving the house, to allow his
mother time to reconcile herself to the inevitable misfortune of
beholding him the husband of Alicia Malcolm.
He instantly ordered his horses and departed, leaving the following
letter for his cousin:--
"I have been compelled by motives of prudence, of which you are the sole
object, to depart without seeing you. My absence became necessary from
the unexpected conduct of Lady Audley, which has led me so near to
forgetting that she was my mother, that I dare not remain, and subject
myself to excesses of temper which I might afterwards repent. Two years
must elapse before I can become legally my own master, and should Lady
Audley so far depart from the dictates of cool judgment as still to
oppose what she knows to be inevitable, I fear that we cannot meet till
then. My heart is well known to you; therefore I need not enlarge on the
pain I feel at this unlooked-for separation. At the same time, I am
cheered with the prospect of the unspeakable happiness that awaits
me-the possession of your hand; and the confidence I feel in your
constancy is in proportion to the certainty I experience in my own; I
cannot, therefore, fear that any of the means which may be put in
practice to disunite us will have more effect on you than on me.
"Looking forward to the moment that shall make you mine for ever, I
remain with steady confidence: and unspeakable affection, your
With a trembling frame Alicia handed the note to Lady Audley, and begged
leave to retire for a short time; expressing her willingness to reply at
another moment to any question her aunt might choose to put to her with
regard to her engagement with Sir Edmund.
In the solitude of her own chamber Alicia gave way to those feelings of
wretchedness which she had with difficulty stifled in the presence of
Lady Audley, and bitterly wept over the extinction of her bright and
newly-formed visions of felicity. To yield to unmerited ill-usage, or to
crouch beneath imperious and self-arrogated power, was not in the nature
of Alicia; and had Lady Audley been a stranger to her, the path of duty
would have been less intricate. However much her own pride might have
been wounded by entering into a family which considered her as an
intruding beggar, never would she have consented to sacrifice the
virtuous inclinations of the man she loved to the will of an arrogant
and imperious mother. But alas! the case was far different. The recent
ill-treatment she had experienced from Lady Audley could not efface from
her noble mind the recollection of benefits conferred from the earliest
period of her life, and of unvarying attention to her welfare. To her
aunt she owed all but existence; she had wholly supported her; bestowed
on her the most liberal education; and from Lady Audley sprang every
pleasure she had hitherto enjoyed.
Had she been brought up by her paternal relations, she would in all
probability never have beheld her cousin; and the mother and son might
have lived in uninterrupted concord. Could she be the person to inflict
on Lady Audley the severest disappointment she could experience? The
thought was too dreadful to bear; and, knowing that procrastination
could but increase her misery, no sooner had she felt convinced of the
true nature of her duty than she made a steady resolution to perform and
to adhere to it. Lady Audley had _vowed that while she had life she
could never give her consent and approbation to her son's marriage;_ and
Alicia was too well acquainted with her disposition to have the faintest
expectation that she would relent. But to remain any longer under her
protection was impossible; and she resolved to anticipate any proposal
of that sort from her protectress.
When Lady Audley's passion had somewhat cooled, she again sent for
Alicia. She began by repeating her _eternal enmity_ to the marriage in a
manner impressive to the greatest degree, and still more decisive in its
form by the cool collectedness of her manner. She then desired to hear
what Alicia had to say in exculpation of her conduct.
The profound sorrow which filled the heart of Alicia left no room for
timidity or indecision. She answered her without hesitation and
embarrassment, and asserted her innocence of all deceit in such a manner
as to leave no doubt at least of honourable proceeding. In a few
impressive words she proved herself sensible of the benefits her aunt
had through life conferred upon her; and, while she openly professed to
think herself, in the present instance, deeply wronged, she declared her
determination of never uniting herself to her cousin without Lady
Audley's permission, which she felt convinced was unattainable.
She then proceeded to ask where she should deem it most advisable for
her to reside in future.
Happy to find her wishes thus prevented, the unfeeling aunt expressed
her satisfaction at Alicia's good sense and discretion; represented, in
what she thought glowing colours, the unheard-of presumption it would
have been in her to take advantage of Sir Edmund's momentary
infatuation; and then launched out into details of her ambitious views
for him in a matrimonial alliance--views which she affected now to
consider without obstacle.
Alicia interrupted the painful and unfeeling harangue. It was neither,
she said, for Sir Edmund's advantage nor to gratify his mother's pride,
but to perform the dictates of her own conscience, that she had resigned
him; she even ventured to declare that the sharpest pang which that
resignation had cost her was the firm conviction that it would inflict
upon him a deep and lasting sorrow.
Lady Audley, convinced that moderate measures would be most likely to
ensure a continuation of Alicia's obedience, expressed herself grieved
at the necessity of parting with her, and pleased that she should have
the good sense to perceive the propriety of such a separation.
Sir Duncan Malcolm, the grandfather of Alicia, had, in the few
communications that had passed between Lady Audley and him, always
expressed a wish to see his granddaughter before he died. Her ladyship's
antipathy to Scotland was such that she would have deemed it absolute
contamination for her niece to have entered the country; and she had
therefore always eluded the request.
It was now, of all plans, the most eligible; and she graciously offered
to convey her niece as far as Edinburgh. The journey was immediately
settled; and before Alicia left her aunt's presence a promise was
exacted with unfeeling tenacity, and given with melancholy firmness,
never to unite herself to Sir Edmund unsanctioned by his mother.
Alas! how imperfect is human wisdom! Even in seeking to do right how
many are the errors we commit! Alicia judged wrong in thus sacrificing
the happiness of Sir Edmund to the pride and injustice of his mother;
but her error was that of a noble, self-denying spirit, entitled to
respect, even though it cannot claim approbation. The honourable open
conduct of her niece had so far gained upon Lady Audley that she did not
object to her writing to Sir Edmund,
"DEAR SIR EDMUND--A painful line of conduct is pointed out to me by
duty; yet of all the regrets I feel not one is so poignant as the
consciousness of that which you will feel at learning that I have
forever resigned the claims you so lately gave me to your heart and
hand. It was not weakness--it could not be inconstancy--that produced
the painful sacrifice of a distinction still more gratifying to my heart
than flattering to my pride.
"Need I remind you that to your mother I owe every benefit in life?
Nothing can release me from the tribute of gratitude which would be ill
repaid by braving her authority and despising her will. Should I give
her reason to regret the hour she received me under her roof, to repent
of every benefit she has hitherto bestowed on me; should I draw down a
mother's displeasure, what reasonable hopes could we entertain of solid
peace through life? I am not in a situation which entitles me to
question the justice of Lady Audley's will; and that will has pronounced
that I shall never be Sir Edmund's wife.
"Your first impulse may perhaps be to accuse me of coldness and
ingratitude in quitting the place and country you inhabit, and resigning
you back to yourself, without personally taking leave of you; but I
trust that you will, on reflection, absolve me from the charge.
have had any grounds to suppose that a personal interview would be
productive of comfort to you, I would have joyfully supported the
sufferings it would have inflicted on myself. But question your own
heart as to the use you would have made of such a meeting; bear in mind
that Lady Audley has my solemn promise never to be yours--a promise not
lightly given; then imagine what must have been an interview between us
under such circumstances.
"In proof of an affection which I can have no reason to doubt, I conjure
you to listen to the last request I shall ever make to my dear cousin.
Give me the heartfelt satisfaction to know that my departure has put an
end to those disagreements between mother and son of which I have been
the innocent cause.
"You have no reason to blame Lady Audley for this last step of
mine. I have not been intimidated--threats, believe me, never would have
extorted from me a promise to renounce you, had not Virtue herself
dictated the sacrifice; and my reward will spring from the conviction
that, as far as my judgment could discern, I have acted right.
"Forget, I entreat you, this inauspicious passion. Resolve, like me, to
resign yourself, without murmuring, to what is now past recall; and,
instead of indulging melancholy, regain, by a timely exertion of mind
and body, that serenity which is the portion of those who have obeyed
the dictates of rectitude.
"Farewell, Sir Edmund. May every happiness attend your future life!
While I strive to forget my ill-fated affection, the still stronger
feelings of gratitude and esteem for you can never fade from the heart
To say that no tears were shed during the composition of this letter
would be to overstrain fortitude beyond natural bounds. With difficulty
Alicia checked the effusions of her pen. She wished to have said much
more, and to have soothed the agony of renunciation by painting with
warmth her tenderness and her regret; but reason urged that, in exciting
his feelings and displaying her own, she would defeat the chief purpose
of her letter. She hastily closed and directed it, with a feeling almost
akin to despair.
The necessary arrangements for the journey having been hastily made, the
ladies set out two days after Sir Edmund had so hastily quitted them.
The uncomplaining Alicia buried her woes in her own bosom; and neither
murmurs on the one hand, nor reproaches on the other, were heard.
At the end of four days the travellers entered Scotland; and when they
stopped for the night, Alicia, fatigued and dispirited, retired
immediately to her apartment.
She had been there but a few minutes when the chambermaid knocked at the
door, and informed her that she was wanted below.
Supposing that Lady Audley had sent for her, she followed the girl
without observing that she was conducted in an opposite direction; when,
upon entering an apartment, what was her astonishment at finding
herself, not in the presence of Lady Audley, but in the arms of Sir
Edmund! In the utmost agitation, she sought to disengage herself from
his almost frantic embrace; while he poured forth a torrent of rapturous
exclamations, and swore that no human power should ever divide them
"I have followed your steps, dearest Alicia, from the moment I received
your letter. We are now in Scotland-in this blessed land of liberty.
Everything is arranged; the clergyman is now in waiting; and in five
minutes you shall be my own beyond the power of fate to sever us."
Too much agitated to reply, Alicia wept in silence; and in the delight
of once more beholding him she had thought never more to behold, forgot,
for a moment, the duty she had imposed upon herself. But the native
energy of her character returned. She raised her head, and attempted to
withdraw from the encircling arms of her cousin.
"Never until you have vowed to be mine! The clergyman--the
carriage--everything is in readiness. Speak but the word, dearest." And
he knelt at her feet.
At this juncture the door opened, and, pale with rage, her eyes flashing
fire, Lady Audley stood before them. A dreadful scene now ensued. Sir
Edmund disdained to enter into any justification of his conduct, or even
to reply to the invectives of his mother, but lavished the most tender
assiduities on Alicia; who, overcome more by the conflicts of her own
heart than with alarm at Lady Audley's violence, sat the pale and silent
image of consternation.
Baffled by her son's indignant disregard, Lady Audley turned all her
fury on her niece; and, in the most opprobrious terms that rage could
invent, upbraided her with deceit and treachery--accusing her of making
her pretended submission instrumental to the more speedy accomplishment
of her marriage. Too much incensed to reply, Sir Edmund seized his
cousin's hand, and was leading her from the room.
"Go, then--go, marry her; but first hear me swear, solemnly swear"--
and she raised her hand and eyes to heaven--"that my malediction shall
be your portion! Speak but the word, and no power shall make me withhold
"Dear Edmund!" exclaimed Alicia, distractedly, "never ought I to have
allowed time for the terrifying words that have fallen from Lady
Audley's lips; never for me shall your mother's malediction fall on you.
Farewell for ever!" and, with the strength of desperation, she rushed
past him, and quitted the room. Sir Edmund madly followed, but in vain.
Alicia's feelings were too highly wrought at that moment to be touched
even by the man she loved; and, without an additional pang, she saw him
throw himself into the carriage which he had destined for so different a
purpose, and quit for ever the woman he adored.
It may easily be conceived of how painful a nature must have been the
future intercourse betwixt Lady Audley and her niece. The former seemed
to regard her victim with that haughty distance which the unrelenting
oppressor never fails to entertain towards the object of his tyranny;
while even the gentle Alicia, on her part, shrank, with ill-concealed
abhorrence, from the presence of that being whose stern decree had
blasted all the fairest blossoms of her happiness.
Alicia was received with affection by her grandfather; and she laboured
to drive away the heavy despondency which pressed on her spirits by
studying his taste and humours, and striving to contribute to his
comfort and amusement.
Sir Duncan had chosen the time of Alicia's arrival to transact some
business; and instead of returning immediately to the Highlands, he
determined to remain some weeks in Edinburgh for her amusement.
But, little attractive as dissipation had been, it was now absolutely
repugnant to Alicia. She loathed the idea of mixing in scenes of
amusement with a heart incapable of joy, a spirit indifferent to every
object that surrounded her; and in solitude alone she expected gradually
to regain her peace of mind.
In the amusements of the gay season of Edinburgh, Alicia expected to
find all the vanity, emptiness, and frivolity of London dissipation,
without its varied brilliancy and elegant luxury; yet, so much was it
the habit of her mind to look to the fairest side of things, and to
extract some advantage from every situation in which she was placed,
that pensive and thoughtful as was her disposition, the discriminating
only perceived her deep dejection, while all admired her benevolence of
manner and unaffected desire to please.
By degrees Alicia found that in some points she had been inaccurate in
her idea of the style of living of those who form the best society of
Edinburgh. The circle is so confined that its members are almost
universally known to each other; and those various gradations of
gentility, from the city's snug party to the duchess's most crowded
assembly, all totally distinct and separate, which are to be met with in
London, have no prototype in Edinburgh. There the ranks and fortunes
being more on an equality, no one is able greatly to exceed his
neighbour in luxury and extravagance. Great magnificence, and the
consequent gratification produced by the envy of others being out of the
question, the object for which a reunion of individuals was originally
invented becomes less of a secondary consideration. Private parties for
the actual purpose of society and conversation are frequent, and answer
the destined end; and in the societies of professed amusement are to be
met the learned, the studious, and the rational; not presented as shows
to the company by the host and hostess, but professedly seeking their
Still the lack of beauty, fashion, and elegance disappoint the stranger
accustomed to their brilliant combination in a London world. But Alicia
had long since sickened in the metropolis at the frivolity of beauty,
the heartlessness of fashion, and the insipidity of elegance; and it was
a relief to her to turn to the variety of character she found beneath
the cloak of simple, eccentric, and sometimes coarse manners.
We are never long so totally abstracted by our own feelings as to be
unconscious of the attempts of others to please us. In Alicia, to be
conscious of it and to be grateful was the same movement. Yet she was
sensible that so many persons could not in that short period have become
seriously interested in her. The observation did not escape her how much
an English stranger is looked up to for fashion and taste in Edinburgh,
though possessing little merit save that of being English; yet she felt
gratified and thankful for the kindness and attention that greeted her
appearance on all sides.
Amongst the many who expressed goodwill towards Alicia there were a few
whose kindness and real affection failed not to meet with a return from
her; and others whose rich and varied powers of mind for the first time
afforded her a true specimen of the exalting enjoyment produced by a
communion of intellect. She felt the powers of her understanding enlarge
in proportion; and, with this mental activity, she sought to solace the
languor of her heart and save it from the listlessness of despair.
Alicia had been about six weeks in Edinburgh when she received a
letter from Lady Audley. No allusions were made to the past; she wrote
upon general topics, in the cold manner that might be used to a common
acquaintance; and slightly named her son as having set out upon a tour
to the Continent.
Alicia's heart was heavy as she read the heartless letter of the woman
whose cruelty ad not been able to eradicate wholly from her breast he
strong durable affection of early habit.
Sir Duncan and Alicia spent two months in Edinburgh, at the end of which
time they went to his country seat in---shire. The adjacent country was
picturesque; and Sir Duncan's residence, though bearing marks of the
absence of taste and comfort in its arrangements, possessed much natural
Two years of tranquil seclusion had passed over her head when her
dormant feeling were all aroused by a letter from Sir Edmund. It
informed her that he was now of age; that his affection remained
unalterable; that he was newly arrived from abroad; and that,
notwithstanding the death-blow she had given to his hopes, he could not
refrain, on returning to his native land, from assuring her that he was
resolved never to pay his addresses to any other woman. He concluded by
declaring his intent on of presenting himself at once to Sir Duncan, and
soliciting his permission to claim her hand: when all scruples relating
to Lady Audley must, from her change of abode, be at an end.
Alicia read the letter with grateful affection and poignant regret.
Again she shed he bitter tears of disappointment, at the hard task of
refusing for a second time so noble and affectionate a heart. But
conscience whispered that to hold a passive line of conduct would be, in
some measure, to deceive Lady Audley's expectations; and she felt, with
exquisite anguish, that she had no means to put a final stop to Sir
Edmund's pursuits, and to her own trials, but by bestowing her hand on
another. The first dawning of this idea was accompanied by the most
violent burst of anguish; but, far from driving away the painful
subject, she strove to render it less appalling by dwelling upon it, and
labouring to reconcile herself to what seemed her only plan of conduct.
She acknowledged to herself that, to remain still single, a prey to Sir
Edmund's importunities and the continual temptations of her own heart,
was, for the sake of present indulgence, submitting to a fiery ordeal,
from which she could not escape unblamable without the most repeated and
Three months still remained for her of peace and liberty, after which
Sir Duncan would go to Edinburgh. There she would be sure of meeting
with the loved companion of her youthful days; and the lurking weakness
of her own breast would then be seconded by the passionate eloquence of
the being she most loved and admired upon earth.
She wrote to him, repeating her former arguments; declaring that she
could never feel herself absolved from the promise she had given Lady
Audley but by that lady herself, and imploring him to abandon a pursuit
which would be productive only of lasting pain to both.
Her arguments, her representations, all failed in their effect on Sir
Edmund's impetuous character. His answer was short and decided; the
purport of it, that he should see her in Edinburgh the moment she
"My fate then is fixed," thought Alicia, as she read this letter; "I
must finish the sacrifice."
The more severe had been the struggle between love and victorious duty,
the more firmly was she determined to maintain this dear-bought
Alicia's resolution of marrying was now decided, and the opportunity was
not wanting. She had become acquainted, during the preceding winter in
Edinburgh, with Major Douglas, eldest son of Mr. Douglas of Glenfern. He
had then paid her the most marked attention; and, since her return to
the country, had been a frequent visitor at Sir Duncan's. At length he
avowed his partiality, which was heard by Sir Duncan with pleasure, by
Alicia with dread and submission. Yet she felt less repugnance towards
him than to any other of her suitors. He was pleasing in his person;
quiet and simple in his manners; and his character stood high for
integrity, good temper, and plain sense. The sequel requires little
further detail. Alicia Malcolm became the wife of Archibald Douglas.
An eternal constancy is a thing so rare to be met with, that persons who
desire that sort of reputation strive to obtain it by nourishing the
ideas that recall the passion, even though guilt and sorrow should go
hand in hand with it. But Alicia, far from piquing herself in the
lovelorn pensiveness she might have assumed, had she yielded to the
impulse of her feelings, diligently strove not only to make up her mind
to the lot which had devolved to her, but to bring it to such a frame of
cheerfulness as should enable her to contribute to her husband's
When the soul is no longer buffeted by the storms of hope or fear, when
all is fixed unchangeably for life, sorrow for the past will never long
prey on a pious and well-regulated mind. If Alicia lost the buoyant
spirit of youth, the bright and quick play of fancy, yet a placid
contentment crowned her days; and at the end of two years she would have
been astonished had anyone marked her as an object of compassion.
She scarcely ever heard from Lady Audley; and in the few letters her
aunt had favoured her with, she gave favourable, though vague accounts
of her son. Alicia did not court a more unreserved communication, and
had long since taught herself to hope that he was now happy. Soon after
their marriage Major Douglas quitted the army, upon succeeding to a small
estate on the banks of Lochmarlie by the death of an uncle; and there,
in the calm seclusion of domestic life, Mrs. Douglas found that peace
which might have been denied her amid gayer scenes.
And joyous was the scene in early summer."
ON Henry's return from his solitary ramble Mrs. Douglas learnt from him
the cause of the misunderstanding that had taken place; and judging
that, in the present state of affairs, a temporary separation might be
of use to both parties, as they were now about to return home she
proposed to her husband to invite his brother and Lady Juliana to follow
and spend a few weeks with them at Lochmarlie Cottage.
The invitation was eagerly accepted; for though Lady Juliana did not
anticipate any positive pleasure from the change, still she thought that
every place must be more agreeable than her present abode, especially as
she stipulated for the utter exclusion of the aunts from the party. To
atone for this mortification Miss Becky was invited to fill the vacant
seat in the carriage; and, accordingly, with a cargo of strong shoes,
greatcoats, and a large work-bag well stuffed with white-seam, she took
her place at the appointed hour.
The day they had chosen for their expedition was one that "sent a summer
feeling to the heart."
The air was soft and genial; not a cloud stained the bright azure of the
heavens; and the sun shone out in all his splendour, shedding life and
beauty even over all the desolate heath-clad hills of Glenfern. But,
after they had journeyed a few miles, suddenly emerging from the valley,
a scene of matchless beauty burst at once upon the eye. Before them lay
the dark-blue waters of Lochmarlie, reflecting, as in a mirror, every
surrounding object, and bearing on its placid transparent bosom a fleet
of herring-boats, the drapery of whose black suspended nets contrasted
with picturesque effect the white sails of the larger vessels, which
were vainly spread to catch a breeze. All around, rocks, meadows, woods,
and hills, mingled in wild and lovely irregularity.
On a projecting point of land stood a little fishing village, its white
cottages reflected in the glassy waters that almost surrounded it. On
the opposite side of the lake, or rather estuary, embosomed in wood, rose
the lofty turrets of Lochmarlie Castle; while here and there, perched on
some mountain's brow, were to be seen the shepherd's lonely hut, and the
heath-covered summer shealing.
Not a breath was stirring, not a sound was heard save the rushing of a
waterfall, the tinkling of some silver rivulet, or the calm rippling of
the tranquil lake; now and then, at intervals, the fisherman's Gaelic
ditty chanted, as he lay stretched on the sand in some sunny nook; or
the shrill distant sound of childish glee. How delicious to the feeling
heart to behold so fair a scene of unsophisticated Nature, and to
listen to her voice alone, breathing the accents of innocence and joy!
But none of the party who now gazed on it had minds capable of being
touched with the emotions it was calculated to inspire.
Henry, indeed, was rapturous in his expressions of admiration; but he
concluded his panegyrics by wondering his brother did not keep a cutter,
and resolving to pass a night on board one of the herring boats, that he
might eat the fish in perfection.
Lady Juliana thought it might be very pretty, if, instead of those
frightful rocks and shabby cottages, there could be villas, and gardens,
and lawns, and conservatories, and summer-houses, and statues.
Miss Becky observed, if it was hers, she would cut down the woods, and
level the hills, and have races.
The road wound along the sides of the lake, sometimes overhung with
banks of natural wood, which, though scarcely budding, grew so thick as
to exclude the prospect; in other places surmounted by large masses of
rock, festooned with ivy, and embroidered by mosses of a thousand hues
that glittered under the little mountain streamlets. Two miles farther
on stood the simple mansion of Mr. Douglas. It was situated in a wild
sequestered nook, formed by a little bay at the farther end of the
lake. On three sides it was surrounded by wooded hills that offered a
complete shelter from every nipping blast. To the south the lawn,
sprinkled with trees and shrubs, sloped gradually down to the water.
At the door they were met by Mrs. Douglas, who welcomed them with
the most affectionate cordiality, and conducted them into the house
through a little circular hall, filled with flowering shrubs and foreign
"How delightful!" exclaimed Lady Juliana, as she stopped to inhale
the rich fragrance. "Moss roses! I do delight in them," twisting off a
rich cluster of flowers and buds in token of her affection; "and I quite
doat upon heliotrope," gathering a handful of flowers as she spoke. Then
extending her hand towards a most luxuriant Cape jessamine--
"I must really petition you to spare this, my favourite child," said her
sister-in-law, as she gently withheld her arm; "and, to tell you the
truth, dear Lady Juliana, you have already infringed the rules of my
little conservatory, which admit only of the gratification of two
senses--seeing and smelling."
"What! don't you like your flowers to be gathered?" exclaimed Lady
Juliana in a tone of surprise and disappointment; "I don't know any
other use they're of. What quantities I used to have from Papa's
Mrs. Douglas made no reply; but conducted her to the drawing-room, where
her chagrin was dispelled by the appearance of comfort and even elegance
that it bore. "Now, this is really what I like," cried she, throwing
herself on one of the couches; "a large fire, open windows, quantities
of roses, comfortable Ottomans, and pictures; only what a pity you
haven't a larger mirror."
Mrs. Douglas now rang for refreshments, and apologised for the absence
of her husband, who, she said, was so much interested in his ploughing
that he seldom made his appearance till sent for.
Henry then proposed that they should all go out and surprise his
brother; and though walking in the country formed no part of Lady
Juliana's amusements, yet, as Mrs. Douglas assured her the walks were
perfectly dry, and her husband was so pressing, she consented. The way
lay through a shrubbery, by the side of a brawling brook, whose banks
retained all the wildness of unadorned nature. Moss and ivy and fern
clothed the ground; and under the banks the young primroses and violets
began to raise their heads; while the red wintry berry still hung thick
on the hollies.
"This is really very pleasant," said Henry, stopping to contemplate a
view of the lake through the branches of a weeping birch; "the sound of
the stream, and the singing of the birds, and all those wild flowers
make it appear as if it was summer in this spot; and only look, Julia,
how pretty that wherry looks lying at anchor." Then whispering to her,
"What would you think of such a desert as this, with the man of your
Lady Juliana made no reply but by complaining of the heat of the sun,
the hardness of the gravel, and the damp from the water.
Henry, who now began to look upon the condition of a Highland farmer
with more complacency than formerly, was confirmed in his favourable
sentiments at sight of his brother, following the primitive occupation
of the plough, his fine face glowing with health, and lighted up with
good humour and happiness. He hastily advanced towards the party, and
shaking his brother and sister-in-law most warmly by the hand,
expressed, with all the warmth of a good heart, the pleasure he had in
receiving them at his house. Then observing Lady Juliana's languid air,
and imputing to fatigue of body what, in fact, was the consequence of
mental vacuity, he proposed returning home by a shorter road than that
by which they had come. Henry was again in raptures at the new beauties
this walk presented, and at the high order and neatness in which the
grounds were kept.
"This must be a very expensive place of yours, though," said he,
addressing his sister-in-law; "there is so much garden and shrubbery,
and such a number of rustic bridges, bowers, and so forth: it must
require half a dozen men to keep it in any order."
"Such an establishment would very ill accord with our moderate means,"
replied she; "we do not pretend to one regular gardener; and had our
little embellishments been productive of much expense, or tending solely
to my gratification, I should never have suggested them. When we first
took possession of this spot it was a perfect wilderness, with a dirty
farm-house on it; nothing but mud about the doors; nothing but wood and
briers and brambles beyond it; and the village presented a still more
melancholy scene of rank luxuriance, in its swarms of dirty idle girls
and mischievous boys. I have generally found that wherever an evil
exists the remedy is not far off; and in this case it was strikingly
obvious. It was only engaging these ill-directed children by trifling
rewards to apply their lively energies in improving instead of
destroying the works of nature, as had formerly been their zealous
practice. In a short time the change on the moral as well as the
vegetable part of creation became very perceptible: the children grew
industrious and peaceable; and instead of destroying trees, robbing
nests, and worrying cats, the bigger boys, under Douglas's direction,
constructed these wooden bridges and seats, or cut out and gravelled the
little winding paths that we had previously marked out. The task of
keeping everything n order is now easy, as you may believe, when I tell
you the whole of our pleasure-grounds, as you are pleased to term them,
receive no other attention than what is bestowed by children under
twelve years of age. And now, having, I hope, acquitted myself of the
charge of extravagance, I ought to beg Lady Juliana's pardon for this
long, and, I fear, tiresome detail."
Having now reached the house, Mrs. Douglas conducted her guest to the
apartment prepared for her, while the brothers pursued their walk.
As long as novelty retained its power, and the comparison between
Glenfern and Lochmarlie was fresh in remembrance, Lady Juliana, charmed
with everything, was in high good-humour.
But as the horrors of the one were forgotten, and the comforts of the
other became familiar, the demon of ennui again took possession of her
vacant mind, and she relapsed into all her capricious humours and
childish impertinences. The harpsichord, which, on her first arrival,
she had pronounced to be excellent, was now declared quite shocking; so
much out of tune that there was no possibility of playing upon it. The
small collection of well-chosen novels she soon exhausted, and then they
became the "stupidest books she had ever read;" the smell of the
heliotrope now gave her the headache; the sight of the lake made her
Mrs. Douglas heard all these civilities in silence, and much more "in
sorrow than in anger." In the wayward inclinations, variable temper, and
wretched inanity of this poor victim of indulgence, she beheld the sad
fruits of a fashionable education; and thought with humility that, under
similar circumstances, such might have been her own character.
"Oh, what an awful responsibility do those parents incur," she would
mentally exclaim, "who thus neglect or corrupt the noble deposit of an
immortal soul! And who, alas! can tell where the mischief may end? This
unfortunate will herself become a mother; yet wholly ignorant of the
duties, incapable of the self-denial of that sacred office, she will
bring into the world creatures to whom she can only transmit her errors
and her weaknesses!"
These reflections at times deeply affected the generous heart and truly
Christian spirit of Mrs. Douglas; and she sought, by every means in her
power, to restrain those faults which she knew it would be vain to
To diversify the routine of days which grew more and more tedious to
Lady Juliana, the weather being remarkably fine, many little excursions
were made to the nearest country seats; which, though they did not
afford her any actual pleasure, answered the purpose of consuming a
considerable portion of her time.
Several weeks passed away, during which little inclination was shown on
the part of the guests to quit their present residence, when Mr. and
Mrs. Douglas were summoned to attend the sick-bed of Sir Duncan Malcolm;
and though they pressed their guests to remain during their absence, yet
Henry felt it would be highly offensive to his father were they to do
so, and therefore resolved immediately to return to Glenfern.
"They steeked doors,' they steeked yetts,
Close to the cheek and chin;
They steeked them a' but a little wicket,
And Lammikin crap in.
"Now quhere's the lady of this castle?"
THE party were received with the loudest acclamations of joy by the good
old ladies; and even the Laird seemed to have forgotten that his son had
refused to breed black cattle, and that his daughter-in-law was above
the management of her household.
The usual salutations were scarcely over when Miss Grizzy, flying to
her little writing-box, pulled out a letter, and, with an air of
importance, having enjoined silence, she read as follows:--
"LOCMARLIE CASTLE, _March_ 27,17--.
"DEAR CHILD-Sir Sampson's stomach has been as bad as it could well be,
but not so bad as your roads. He was shook to a jelly. My petticoat will
never do. Mrs. M'Hall has had a girl. I wonder what makes people have
girls; they never come to good. Boys may go to the mischief, and be good
for something--if girls go, they're good for nothing I know of. I never
saw such roads. I suppose Glenfern means to bury you all in the highway;
there are holes enough to make you graves, and stones big enough for
coffins. You must all come and spend Tuesday here--not all, but some of
you--you, dear child, and your brother, and a sister, and your pretty
niece, and handsome nephew--I love handsome people. Miss M'Kraken has
bounced away with her father's footman--I hope he will clean his knives
on her. Come early, and come dressed, to your loving friend,
The letter ended, a volley of applause ensued, which at length gave
place to consultation. "Of course we all go--at least as many as the
carriage will hold: we have no engagements, and there can be no
Lady Juliana had already frowned a contemptuous refusal, but in due
time it was changed to a sullen assent, at the pressing entreaties of
her husband, to whom any place was now preferable to home. In truth, the
mention of a party had more weight with her than either her husband's
wishes or her aunts' remonstrances; and they had assured her that she
should meet with a large assemblage of the very first company at
The day appointed for the important visit arrived; and it was arranged
that two of the elder ladies and one of the young ones should accompany
Lady Juliana in her barouche, which Henry was to drive.
At peep of dawn the ladies were astir, and at eight o'clock breakfast
was hurried over that they might begin the preparations necessary for
appearing with dignity at the shrine of this their patron saint. At
eleven they reappeared in all the majesty of sweeping silk trains and
well-powdered toupees. In outward show Miss Becky was not less
elaborate; the united strength and skill of her three aunts and four
sisters had evidently been exerted in forcing her hair into every
position but that for which nature had intended it; curls stood on end
around her forehead, and tresses were dragged up from the roots, and
formed into a club on the crown; her arms had been strapped back till
her elbows met, by means of a pink ribbon of no ordinary strength or
Three hours were past in all the anguish of full-dressed impatience; an
anguish in which every female breast must be ready to sympathise. But
Lady Juliana sympathised in no one's distresses but her own, and the
difference of waiting in high dress or in deshabille was a distinction
to her inconceivable. But those to whom _to be dressed _is an event will
readily enter into the feelings of the ladies in question as they sat,
walked, wondered, exclaimed, opened windows, wrung their hands, adjusted
their dress, etc. etc., during the three tedious hours they were doomed
to wait the appearance of their niece.
Two o'clock came, and with it Lady Juliana, as if purposely to testify
her contempt, in a loose morning dress and mob cap. The sisters looked
blank with disappointment; for having made themselves mistresses of the
contents of her ladyship's wardrobe, they had settled amongst themselves
that the most suitable dress for the occasion would be black velvet, and
accordingly many hints had been given the preceding evening on the
virtues of black velvet gowns. They were warm, and not too warm; they
were dressy, and not too dressy; Lady Maclaughlan was a great admirer of
black velvet gowns; she had one herself with long sleeves, and that
buttoned behind; black velvet gowns were very much wore; they knew
several ladies who had them; and they were certain there would be
nothing else wore amongst the matrons at Lady Maclaughlan's, etc. etc.
Time was, however, too precious to be given either to remonstrance or
lamentation. Miss Jacky could only give an angry look, and Miss Grizzy
a sorrowful one, as they hurried away to the carriage, uttering
exclamations of despair at the lateness of the hour, and the
impossibility that anybody could have time to dress after getting to
The consequence of the delay was that it was dark by the time they
reached the place of destination. The carriage drove up to the grand
entrance; but neither lights nor servants greeted their arrival; and no
answer was returned to the ringing of the bell.
"We had best get out and try the back. This is most alarming, I
declare!" cried Miss Grizzy.
"It is quite incomprehensible!" observed Miss Jacky. "We had best get
out and try the back door."
The party alighted, and another attack being made upon the rear, it met
with better success; for a little boy now presented himself at a narrow
opening of the door, and in a strong Highland accent demanded "wha ta
"Lady Maclaughlan, to be sure, Colin," was the reply.
"Weel, weel," still refusing admittance; "but te leddie's no to be
spoken wi' to-night."
"Not to be spoken with!" exclaimed Miss Grizzy, almost sinking to the
ground with apprehension. "Good gracious I--I hope I--I declare I--Sir
"OO ay, hur may see Lochmarlie hursel." Then opening the door, he led
the way, and ushered them into the presence of Sir Sampson, who was
reclining in an easy chair, arrayed in a _robe de chambre_ and nightcap.
The opening of the door seemed to have broken his slumber; for, gazing
around with a look of stupefaction, he demanded in a sleepy peevish
tone, "Who was there?"
"Bless me, Sir Sampson!" exclaimed both spinsters at once, darting
forward and seizing a hand; "bless me, don't you know us? And here is
our niece, Lady Juliana."
"My Lady Juliana Douglas!" cried he, with a shriek of horror, sinking
again upon his cushions. "I am betrayed--I--Where is my Lady
Maclaughlan?--Where is Philistine?-- Where is--the devil! This is not to
be borne! My Lady Juliana Douglas, the Earl of Courtland's daughter, to
be introduced to Lochmarlie Castle in so vile a manner, and myself
surprised in so indecorous a situation!" And, his lips quivering with
passion, he rang the bell.
The summons was answered by the same attendant that had acted as
"'Where are all my people?" demanded his incensed master.
"Hurs aw awa tull ta Sandy More's."
"Where is my Lady?"
"Hurs i' ta teach tap." 
 House top.
"'Where is Murdoch?"
"Hur's helpin' ta leddie i' ta teach tap."
"Oh, we'll all go upstairs, and see what Lady Maclaughlan and Philistine
are about in the laboratory," said Miss Grizzy. "So pray, just go on
with your nap, Sir Sampson; we shall find the way--don't stir;" and
taking Lady Juliana by the hand, away tripped the spinsters in search of
their friend. "I cannot conceive the meaning of all this," whispered
Miss Grizzy to her sister as they went along. "Something must be wrong;
but I said nothing to dear Sir Sampson, his nerves are so easily
agitated. But what can be the meaning of all this? I declare it's quite
After ascending several long dark stairs, and following divers windings
and turnings, the party at length reached the door of the _sanctum
sanctorum,_ and having gently tapped, the voice of the priestess was
heard in no very encouraging accents, demanding "Who was there?"
"It's only us," replied her trembling friend.
"Only us? humph! I wonder what fool is called _only us!_ Open the
door, Philistine, and see what _only us_ wants."
The door was opened and the party entered. The day was closing in,
but by the faint twilight that mingled with the gleams from a smoky
smouldering fire, Lady Maclaughlan was dimly discernible, as she stood
upon the hearth, watching the contents of an enormous kettle that
emitted both steam and odour. She regarded the invaders with her usual
marble aspect, and without moving either joint or muscle as they drew
"I declare--I don't think you know us, Lady Maclaughlan," said Miss
Grizzy in a tone of affected vivacity, with which she strove to conceal
"Know you!" repeated her friend--"humph! Who you are, I know very well;
but what brings you here, I do _not_ know. Do you know yourselves?"
"I declare---I can't conceive----" began Miss Grizzy; but her
trepidation arrested her speech, and her sister therefore proceeded--
"Your ladyship's declaration is no less astonishing than
incomprehensible. We have waited upon you by your own express invitation
on the day appointed by yourself; and we have been received in a manner,
I must say, we did not expect, considering this is the first visit of
our niece Lady Juliana Douglas."
"I'll tell you what, girls," replied their friend, as she still stood
with her back to the fire, and her hands behind her; "I'll tell you
what,--you are not yourselves--you are all lost--quite mad--that's
"If that's the case, we cannot be fit company for your ladyship,"
retorted Miss Jacky warmly; "and therefore the best thing we can do is
to return the way we came. Come, Lady Juliana--come, sister."
"I declare, Jacky, the impetuosity of your temper is--I really cannot
stand it--" and the gentle Grizzy gave way to a flood of tears.
"You used to be rational, intelligent creatures," resumed her ladyship;
"but what has come over you, I don't know. You come tumbling in here at
the middle of the night--and at the top of the house nobody knows
how--when I never was thinking of you; and because I don't tell a parcel
of lies, and pretend I expected you, you are for flying off again
--humph! Is this the behaviour of women in their senses? But since you
are here, you may as well sit down and say what brought you. Get down,
Gil Blas--go along, Tom Jones," addressing two huge cats, who occupied a
three-cornered leather chair by the fireside, and who relinquished it
with much reluctance.
"How do you do, pretty creature?" kissing Lady Juliana, as she seated
her in this eat's cradle. "Now, girls, sit down, and tell what brought
you here to-day--humph!"
"Can your Ladyship ask such a question, after having formally invited
us?" demanded the wrathful Jacky.
"I'll tell you what, girls; you were just as much invited by me to dine
here to-day as you were appointed to sup with the Grand
"What day of the week does your Ladyship call this?"
"I call it Tuesday; but I suppose the Glenfern calendar calls it
Thursday: Thursday was the day I invited you to come."
"I'm sure--I'm thankful we're got to the bottom of it at last," cried
Miss Grizzy; "I read it, because I'm sure you wrote it, Tuesday."
"How could you be such a fool, my love, as to read it any such thing?
Even if it had been written Tuesday, you might have had the sense to
know it meant Thursday. When did you know me invite anybody for a
"I declare it's very true; I certainly ought to have known better. I
am quite confounded at my own stupidity; for, as you observe, even
though you had said Tuesday, I might have known that you must have meant
"Well, well, no more about it. Since you are here you must stay here,
and you must have something to eat, I suppose. Sir Sampson and I have
dined two hours ago; but you shall have your dinner for all that. I must
shut shop for this day, it seems, and leave my resuscitating tincture
all in the deadthraw--Methusalem pills quite in their infancy. But
there's no help for it. Since you are here you must stay here, and you
must be fed and lodged; so get along, girls, get along. Here, Gil
Blas--come, Tom Jones." And, preceded by her cats, and followed by her
guests, she led the way to the parlour.
"Point de milieu: l'hymen et ses liens
Sont les plus grands ou des maux ou des biens."
_L' Enfant Prodigue._
ON returning to the parlour they found Sir Sampson had, by means of the
indefatigable Philistine, been transported into a suit of regimentals
and well-powdered peruke, which had in some measure restored him to his
usual complacency. Henry, who had gone in quest of some person to take
charge of the horses, now entered; and shortly after a tray of
provisions was brought, which the half-famished party eagerly attacked,
regardless of their hostess's admonitions to eat sparingly, as nothing
was so dangerous as eating heartily when people were hungry.
The repast being at length concluded, Lady Maclaughlan led her guests
into the saloon. They passed through an antechamber, which seemed, by
the faint light of the lamp, to contain nothing but piles on piles of
china, and entered the room of state.
The eye at first wandered in uncertain obscurity; and the guests
cautiously proceeded over a bare oaken floor, whose dark polished
surface seemed to emulate a mirror, through an apartment of formidable
The walls were hung with rich but grotesque tapestry. The ceiling, by
its height and massy carving, bespoke the age of the apartment; but the
beauty of the design was lost in the gloom.
A Turkey carpet was placed in the middle of the floor; and on the middle
of the carpet stood the card table, at which two footmen, hastily
summoned from the revels at Sandy More's, were placing chairs and cards;
seemingly eager to display themselves, as if to prove that they were
always at their posts.
Cards were a matter of course with Sir Sampson and his lady; but as
whist was the only game they ever played, a difficulty arose as to the
means of providing amusement for the younger part of the company.
"I have plenty of books for you, my loves," said Lady Maclaughlan; and,
taking one of the candles, she made a journey to the other end of the
room, and entered a small turret, from which her voice was heard issuing
most audibly, "All the books that should ever have been published are
here. Read these, and you need read no more: all the world's in these
books--humph! Here's the Bible, great and small, with apocrypha and
concordance! Here's Floyer's Medicina Gerocomica, or the Galenic Art of
Preserving Old Men's Health;--Love's Art of Surveying and Measuring
Land;--Transactions of the Highland Society;--Glass's Cookery;--Flavel's
Fountain of Life Opened;--Fencing Familiarised;--Observations on the Use
of Bath Waters;--Cure for Soul Sores;--De Blondt's Military
Memoirs;--MacGhie's Book-keeping;--Mead on Pestilence;--Astenthology, or
the Art of Preserving Feeble Life!"
As she enumerated the contents of her library, she paused at the end of
each title, in hopes of hearing the book called for; but she was allowed
to proceed without interruption to the end of her catalogue.
"Why, what would you have, children?" cried she in one of her sternest
accents. "I don't know! Do you know yourselves? Here are two novels, the
only ones worth any Christian's reading."
Henry gladly accepted the first volumes of Gil Bias and Clarissa
Harlowe; and, giving the latter to Lady Juliana, began the other
himself. Miss Becky was settled with her hands across; and, the whist
party being arranged, a solemn silence ensued.
Lady Juliana turned over a few pages of her own book, then begged
Henry would exchange with her; but both were in so different a style
from the French and German school she had been accustomed to, that they
were soon relinquished in disappointment and disgust.
On the table, which had been placed by the fire for her accommodation,
lay an English newspaper; and to that she had recourse, as a last effort
at amusement. But, alas! even the dulness of Clarissa Harlowe was
delight compared to the anguish with which this fatal paper was fraught,
in the shape of the following paragraph, which presented itself to the
unfortunate fair one's eye:--
"Yesterday was married, by special license, at the house of Mrs. D---,
his Grace the Duke of L---, to the beautiful and accomplished Miss D---.
His Royal Highness the Duke of ---- was gracious enough to act as father
to the bride upon this occasion, and was present in person, as were
their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of ---, and of ---. The bride looked
most bewitchingly lovely, in a simple robe of the finest Mechlin lace,
with a superb veil of the same costly material, which hung down to her
feet. She wore a set of pearls estimated at thirty thousand pounds,
whose chaste elegance corresponded with the rest of the dress.
Immediately after the ceremony they partook of a sumptuous collation,
and the happy pair setoff in a chariot and four, attended by six
outriders, and two coaches and four.
"After spending the honeymoon at his Grace's unique villa on the Thames,
their Graces will receive company at their splendid mansion in Portman
Square. The wedding paraphernalia is said to have cost ten thousand
pounds; and her Grace's jewel-box is estimated at little less than half
Wretched as Lady Juliana had long felt herself to be, her former state
of mind was positive happiness compared to what she now endured. Envy,
regret, self-reproach, and resentment, all struggled in the breast of
the self-devoted beauty, while the paper dropped from her hand, and she
cast a fearful glance around, as if to ascertain the reality of her
fate. The dreadful certainty smote her with a sense of wretchedness too
acute to be suppressed; and, darting a look of horror at her unconscious
husband, she threw herself back in her chair, while the scalding tears
of envy, anger, and repentance fell from her eyes.
Accustomed as Henry now was to these ebullitions of _feeling_ from his
beauteous partner, he was not yet so indifferent as to behold them
unmoved; and he sought to soothe her by the kindest expressions and most
tender epithets. These indeed had long since ceased to charm away the
lady's ill-humour, but they sometimes succeeded in mollifying it. But
now their only effect seemed to be increasing the irritation, as she
turned from all her husband's inquiries, and impatiently withdrew her
hands from his.
Astonished at a conduct so incomprehensible, Douglas earnestly besought
"There!" cried she, at length, pushing the paper towards him, "see
there what I might have been but for you; and then compare it with what
you have made me!"
Confounded by this reproach, Henry eagerly snatched up the paper, and
his eye instantly fell on the fatal paragraph--the poisoned dart that
struck the death-blow to all that now remained to him of happiness--the
fond idea that, even amidst childish folly and capricious estrangement,
still in the main he was beloved! With a quivering lip, and cheek
blanched with mortification and indignant contempt, he laid down the
paper; and without casting a look upon, or uttering a word to, his once
_adored and adoring Juliana,_ quitted the apartment in all that
bitterness of spirit which a generous nature must feel when it first
discovers the fallacy of a cherished affection. Henry had indeed ceased
to regard his wife with the ardour of romantic passion; nor had the
solid feelings of affectionate esteem supplied its place; but he loved
her still, because he believed himself the engrossing object of her
tenderness; and in that blest delusion he had hitherto found palliatives
for her folly and consolation for all his own distresses.
To indifference he might for a time have remained insensible; because,
though his feelings were strong, his perceptions were not acute. But the
veil of illusion was now rudely withdrawn. He beheld himself detested
where he imagined himself adored; and the anguish of disappointed
affection was heightened by the stings of wounded pride and deluded
"What's done, cannot be undone; to bed, to bed, to bed!"
_Exit Lady Macbeth._
THE distance at which the whist party had placed themselves, and the
deep interest in which their senses were involved while the fate of the
odd trick was pending, had rendered them insensible to the scene that
was acting at the other extremity of the apartment. The task of
administering succour to the afflicted fair one therefore devolved upon
Miss Becky, whose sympathetic powers never had been called into action
before. Slowly approaching the wretched Lady Juliana as she lay back in
her chair, the tears coursing each other down her cheeks, she tendered
her a smelling-bottle, to which her own nose, and the noses of her
sisters, were wont to be applied whenever, as they choicely expressed
it, they wanted a "fine smell." But upon this trying occasion she went
still farther. She unscrewed the stopper, unfolded a cotton
handkerchief, upon which she poured a few drops of lavender water, and
offered it to her ladyship, deeming that the most elegant and efficient
manner in which she could afford relief. But the well-meant offering was
silently waved off; and poor Miss Becky, having done all that the light
of reason suggested to her, retreated to her seat, wondering what it
was her fine sister-in-law would be at.
By the time the rubber was ended her ladyship's fears of Lady
Maclaughlan had enabled her to conquer her feelings so far that they had
now sunk into a state of sullen dejection, which the good aunts eagerly
interpreted into the fatigue of the journey, Miss Grizzy declaring that
although the drive was most delightful--nobody could deny that--and they
all enjoyed it excessively, as indeed everybody must who had eyes in
their head; yet she must own, at the same time, that she really felt
as if all her bones were broke.
A general rising therefore took place at an early hour, and Lady
Juliana, attended by all the females of the party, was ushered into the
chamber of state, which was fitted up in a style acknowledged to be
truly magnificent, by all who had ever enjoyed the honour of being
permitted to gaze on its white velvet bed curtains, surmounted by the
family arms, and gracefully tucked up by hands _sinister-couped _at the
wrists, etc. But lest my fashionable readers should be of a different
opinion, I shall refrain from giving an inventory of the various
articles with which this favoured chamber was furnished. Misses Grizzy
and Jacky occupied the green room which had been fitted up at Sir
Sampson's birth. The curtains hung at a respectful distance from the
ground; the chimney-piece was far beyond the reach even of the majestic
Jacky's arm; and the painted tiffany toilet was covered with a shoal of
little tortoise-shell boxes of all shapes and sizes. A grim visage,
scowling from under a Highland bonnet, graced by a single black feather,
hung on high. Miss Grizzy placed herself before it, and, holding up the
candle, contemplated it for about the nine hundredth time, with an awe
bordering almost on adoration.
"Certainly Sir Eneas must have been a most wonderful man--nobody can
deny that; and there can be no question but he had the second-sight to
the greatest degree--indeed, I never heard it disputed; many of his
prophecies, indeed, seem to have been quite incomprehensible; but that
is so much the more extraordinary; you know--for instance, the one with
regard to our family," lowering her voice; "for my part I declare I
never could comprehend it; and yet there must be something in it, too;
but how any branch from the Glenfern tree--of course, you know, that can
only mean the family tree--should help to prop Lochmarlie's walls, is
what I can't conceive. If Sir Sampson had a son, to be sure, some of the
girls--for you know it can't be any of us; at least I declare for my own
part--I'm sure even if any thing which I trust, in goodness, there is
not the least chance of, should ever happen to dear Lady Maclaughlan, and
Sir Sampson should take it into his head--which, of course, is a thing
not to be thought about--and indeed I'm quite convinced it would be very
much out of respect to dear Lady Maclaughlan, a friendship for us, if
such a thing was ever into his head."
Here the tender Grizzy got so involved in her own ideas as to the
possibility of Lady Maclaughlan's death, and the propriety of Sir
Sampson's proposals, together with the fulfilling of Sir Eneas the
seer's prophecy, that there is no saying how far she strayed in her
self-created labyrinth. Such as choose to follow her may. For our part, we
prefer accompanying the youthful Becky to her chamber, whither she was
also attended by the lady of the mansion. Becky's destiny for the night
lay at the top of one of those little straggling wooden stairs common in
old houses, which creaked in all directions. The bed was placed in a
recess dark as Erebus, and betwixt the bed and the wall, was a depth
profound, which Becky's eye dared not attempt to penetrate.
"You will find everything right here, child," said Lady Maclaughlan;
"and if anything should be wrong you must think it right. I never suffer
anything to be wrong here--humph!" Becky, emboldened by despair, cast a
look towards the recess; and in a faint voice ventured to inquire, "Is
there no fear that Tom Jones or Gil Blas may be in that place behind
"And if they should," answered her hostess in her most appalling
tone, "what is that to you? Are you a mouse, that you are afraid they
will eat you? Yes, I suppose you are. You are perhaps the princess in
the fairy tale, who was a woman by day and a mouse by night. I believe
you are bewitched! So I wish your mouseship a good night." And she
descended the creaking stair, singing,
"Mrs. Mouse, are you within?"
till even her stentorian voice was lost in distance. Poor Becky's heart
died with the retreating sounds, and only revived to beat time with the
worm in the wood. Long and eerie was the night, as she gave herself up
to all the horrors of a superstitious mind--ghosts, gray, black, and
white, flitted around her couch; cats, half human, held her throat; the
deathwatch ticked in her ears. At length the light of morning shed its
brightening influence on the dim opaque of her understanding; and when
all things stood disclosed in light, she shut her eyes and oped her
mouth in all the blissfulness of security. The light of day was indeed
favourable for displaying to advantage the beauties of Lochmarlie
Castle, which owed more to nature than art. It was beautifully situated
on a smooth green bank, that rose somewhat abruptly from the lake, and
commanded a view, which, if not extensive, was yet full of variety and
Its venerable turrets reared themselves above the trees which seemed
coeval with them; and the vast magnificence of its wide-spreading lawns
and extensive forests seemed to appertain to some feudal prince's lofty
domain. But in vain were creation's charms spread before Lady Juliana's
eyes. Woods and mountains and lakes and rivers were odious things; and
her heart panted for dusty squares and suffocating drawing-rooms.
Something was said of departing by the sisters when the party met at
breakfast; but this was immediately negatived in the most decided manner
by their hostess.
"Since you have taken your own time to come, my dears, you must take
mine to go. Thursday was the day I invited you for, or at least wanted
you for, so you must stay Thursday, and go away on Friday, and my
blessing go with you--humph!"
The sisters, charmed with what they termed the hospitality and
friendship of this invitation, delightedly agreed to remain; and as
things were at least conducted in better style there than at Glenfern,
uncomfortable as it was, Lady Juliana found herself somewhat nearer home
there than at the family chateau. Lady Maclaughlan, who _could _be
commonly civil in her own house, was at some pains to amuse her guest by
showing her collection of china and cabinet of gems, both of which were
remarkably fine. There was also a library, and a gallery, containing
some good pictures, and, what Lady Juliana prized still more, a billiard
table. Thursday, the destined day, at length arrived, and a large party
assembled to dinner. Lady Juliana, as she half reclined on a sofa,
surveyed the company with a supercilious stare, and without deigning to
take any part in the general conversation that went on. It was enough
that they spoke with a peculiar accent--everything they said must be
barbarous; but she was pleased once more to eat off plate, and to find
herself in rooms which, though grotesque and comfortless, yet wore an
air of state, and whose vastness enabled her to keep aloof from those
with whom she never willingly came in contact. It was therefore with
regret she saw the day of her departure arrive, and found herself once
more an unwilling inmate of her only asylum; particularly as her
situation now required comforts and indulgences which it was there
impossible to procure.
"No mother's care
Shielded my infant innocence with prayer:
* * * * *
Mother, miscall'd, farewell!"
THE happy period, so long and anxiously anticipated by the ladies of
Glenfern, at length arrived and Lady Juliana presented to the house of
Douglas--not, alas! the ardently-desired heir to its ancient
consequence, but twin-daughters, who could only be regarded as
additional burdens on its poverty.
The old gentleman's disappointment was excessive; and, as he paced up
and down the parlour, with his hands in his pockets, he muttered, "Twa
lasses! I ne'er heard tell o' the like o't. I wonder whar their tochers
are to come frae?"
Miss Grizzy, in great perturbation, declared it certainly was a great
pity it had so happened, but these things couldn't be helped; she was
sure Lady Maclaughlan would be greatly surprised.
Miss Jacky saw no cause for regret, and promised herself an endless
source of delight in forming the minds and training the ideas of her
Miss Nicky wondered how they were to be nursed. She was afraid Lady
Juliana would not be able for both, and wet-nurses had such stomachs!
Henry, meanwhile, whose love had all revived in anxiety for the safety,
and anguish for the sufferings of his youthful partner, had hastened to
her apartment, and, kneeling by her side, he pressed her hands to his
lips with feelings of the deepest emotion.
"Dearer--a thousand times dearer to me than ever," whispered he, as he
fondly embraced her, "and those sweet pledges of our love!"
"Ah, don't mention them," interrupted his lady in a languid tone. "How
very provoking! I hate girls so--and two of them--oh!" and she sighed
deeply. Her husband sighed too; but from a different cause. The nurse
now appeared, and approached with her helpless charges; and both
parents, for the first time looked on their own offspring.
"What nice little creatures!" said the delighted father, as, taking them
in his arms, he imprinted the first kiss on the innocent faces of his
daughters, and then held them to their mother; who, turning from them
with disgust, exclaimed, "How can you kiss them, Harry? They are so
ugly, and they squall so! Oh do, for heaven's sake, take them away! And
see, there is poor Psyche quite wretched at being so long away from me.
Pray, put her on the bed."
"She will grow fond of her babies by-and-by," said poor Henry to
himself, as he quitted the apartment, with feelings very different from
those with which he entered it.
At the pressing solicitations of her husband, the fashionable mother
was prevailed upon to attempt nursing one of her poor starving infants;
but the first trial proved also the last, as she declared nothing upon
earth should ever induce her to perform so odious an office; and as
Henry's entreaties and her aunts' remonstrances served alike to irritate
and agitate her, the contest was, by the advice of her medical
attendant, completely given up. A wet-nurse was therefore procured; but
as she refused to undertake both children, and the old gentleman would
not hear of having two such encumbrances in his family, it was settled,
to the unspeakable delight of the maiden sisters, that the youngest
should be entrusted entirely to their management, and brought up by
The consequence was such as might have been foreseen. The child, who
was naturally weak and delicate at its birth, daily lost a portion of
its little strength, while its continued cries declared the intensity of
its sufferings, though they produced no other effect on its unfeeling
mother than her having it removed to a more distant apartment, as she
could not endure to hear the cross little thing scream so for nothing.
On the other hand, the more favoured twin, who was from its birth a
remarkably strong lively infant, and met with all justice from its
nurse, throve apace, and was pronounced by her to be the very picture of
the _bonnie leddie, its mamma,_ and then, with all the low cunning of
her kind, she would launch forth into panegyrics of its beauty, and
prophecies of the great dignities and honours that would one day be
showered upon it; until, by her fawning and flattery, she succeeded in
exciting a degree of interest, which nature had not secured for it in
the mother's breast.
Things were in this situation when, at the end of three weeks, Mr. and
Mrs. Douglas arrived to offer their congratulations on the birth of the
twins. Lady Juliana received her sister-in-law in her apartment, which
she had not yet quitted, and replied to her congratulations only by
querulous complaints and childish murmurs.
"I am sure you are very happy in not having children," continued she, as
the cries of the little sufferer reached her ear; "I hope to goodness I
shall never have any more. I wonder if anybody ever had twin daughters
before, and I, too, who hate girls so!"
Mrs Douglas, disgusted with her unfeeling folly, knew not what to reply,
and a pause ensued; but afresh burst of cries from the unfortunate baby
again called forth its mother's indignation.
"I wish to goodness that child was gagged," cried she, holding her hands
to her ears. "It has done nothing but scream since the hour it was born,
and it makes me quite sick to hear it."
"Poor little dear!" said Mrs. Douglas compassionately, "it appears to
suffer a great deal."
"Suffer!" repeated her sister-in-law; "what can it suffer? I am sure it
meets with a great deal attention than any person in the house. These
three old women do nothing but feed it from morning to night, with
everything they can think of, and make such a fuss about it!"
"I suspect, my dear sister, you would be very sorry for yourself,"
said Mrs. Douglas, with a smile, "were you to endure the same
treatment as your poor baby; stuffed with improper food and loathsome
drugs, and bandied about from one person to another."
"You may say what you please," retorted Lady Juliana pettishly; "but I
know it's nothing but ill temper: nurse says so too; and it is so ugly
with constantly crying that I cannot bear to look at it;" and she turned
away her head as Miss Jacky entered red with the little culprit in her
arms, which she was vainly endeavouring to _talk _into silence, while
she dandled it in the most awkward _maiden-like_ manner imaginable.
"Good heavens! what a fright!" exclaimed the tender parent, as her child
was held up to her. "Why, it is much less than when it was born, an its
skin is as yellow as saffron, and it squints! Only look what a
difference," as the nurse advanced and ostentatiously displayed her
charge, who had just waked out of a long sleep; its checks flushed with
heat; its skin completely filled up; and its large eyes rolling under
its already dark eyelashes.
"The bonny wean's just her mamma's pickter," drawled out the nurse, "but
the wee missy's uncolike her aunties."
"Take her away," cried Lady Juliana in a tone of despair; "I wish I
could send her out of my hearing altogether, for her noise will be the
death of me."
"Alas! what would I give to hear the blessed sound of a living child!"
exclaimed Mrs. Douglas, taking the infant in her arms. "And how great
would be my happiness could I call the poor rejected one mine!"
"I'm sure you are welcome to my share of the little plague," said her
sister-in-law, with a laugh, "if you can prevail upon Harry to give up
"I would give up a great deal could my poor child find a mother,"
replied her husband, who just then entered.
"My dear brother!" cried Mrs. Douglas, her eyes beaming with delight,
"do you then confirm Lady Juliana's kind promise? Indeed I will be a
mother to your dear baby, and love her as if she were my own; and in a
month--oh! in much less time--you shall see her as stout as her sister."
Henry sighed, as he thought, "'Why has not my poor babe such a mother of
its own?" Then thanking his sister-in-law for her generous intentions,
he reminded her that she must consult her husband, as few men liked to
be troubled with any children but their own.
"You are in the right," said Mrs. Douglas, blushing at the impetuosity
of feeling which had made her forget for an instant the deference due to
her band; "I shall instantly ask his permission, and he is so indulgent
to all my wishes that I have little doubt of obtaining his consent;"
and, with the child in her arms, she hastened to her husband, and made
known her request.
Mr. Douglas received the proposal with considerable coolness; wondering
what his wife could see in such an ugly squalling thing to plague
herself about it. If it had been a boy, old enough to speak and run
about, there might be some amusement in it; but he could not see the use
of a squalling sickly infant--and a girl too!
His wife sighed deeply, and the tears stole down her cheeks as she
looked on the wan visage and closed eyes of the little sufferer. "God
help the, poor baby?" said she mournfully; "you are rejected on all
hands, but your misery will soon be at a end;" and she was slowly
leaving the room with her helpless charge when her husband, touched at
the sight of her distress, though the feeling that caused it he did not
comprehend, called to her, "I am sure, Alicia, if you really wish to
take charge of the infant I have no objections; only I think you will
find it la great plague, and the mother is such a fool"
"Worse than a fool," said Mrs. Douglas indignantly, "for she hates and
abjures this her poor unoffending babe"
"Does she so?" cried Mr. Douglas, every kindling feeling roused within
him at the idea of his blood being hated and abjured; "then, hang me! if
she shall have any child of Harry's to hate as long as I have a house to
shelter it and a sixpence to bestow upon it," taking the infant in his
arms, and kindly kissing it.
Mrs. Douglas smiled through her tears as she embraced her husband, and
praised his goodness and generosity; then, full of exultation and
delight, she flew to impart the success of her mission to the parents of
Great was the surprise of the maiden nurses at finding they were to
be bereft of their little charge.
"I declare, I think the child is doing as well as possible," said Miss
Grizzy. "To be sure it does yammer constantly--that can't be denied; and
it is uncommonly small--nobody can dispute that. At the same time, I am
sure, I can't tell what makes it cry, for I've given it two colic
powders every day, and a tea-spoonful of Lady Maclaughlan's carminative
every three hours."
"And I've done nothing but make water-gruel and chop rusks for it,"
quoth Miss Nicky, "and yet it is never satisfied; I wonder what it would
"I know perfectly well what it would be at," said Miss Jacky, with an
air of importance. "All this crying and screaming is for nothing else
but a nurse; but it ought not to be indulged. There is no end of
indulging the desires, and 'tis amazing how cunning children are, and
how soon they know how to take advantage of people's weakness," glancing
an eye of fire at Mrs. Douglas. "Were that my child, I would feed her on
bread and water before I would humour her fancies. A pretty lesson,
indeed! if she's to have her own way before she's a month old."
Mrs. Douglas knew that it was in vain to attempt arguing with her aunts.
She therefore allowed them to wonder and declaim over their sucking
pots, colic powders, and other instruments of torture, while she sent to
the wife of one of her tenants who had lately lain-in, and who wished
for the situation of nurse, appointing her to be at Lochmarlie the
following day. Having made her arrangements, and collected the scanty
portion of clothing Mrs. Nurse chose to allow, Mrs. Douglas repaired to
her sister-in-law's apartment, with her little charge in her arms. She
found her still in bed, and surrounded with her favourites.
"So you really are going to torment yourself with that little
screech-owl?" said she. "Well, I must say it's very good of you; but I
am afraid you will soon tire of her. Children are such plagues! Are they
not, my darling?" added she, kissing her pug.
"You will not say so when you have seen my little girl a month hence,"
said Mrs. Douglas, trying to conceal her disgust for Henry's sake, who
had just then entered the room. "She has promised me never to cry any
more; so give her a kiss, and let us be gone."
The high-bred mother slightly touched the cheek of her sleeping babe,
extended her finger to her sister-in-law, and carelessly bidding them
good-bye, returned to her pillow and her pugs.
Henry accompanied Mrs. Douglas to the carriage, and before they parted
he promised his brother to ride over to Lochmarlie in a few days. He
said nothing of his child, but his glistening eye and the warm pressure
of his hand spoke volumes to the kind heart of his brother, who assured
him that Alicia would be very good to his little girl, and that he was
sure she would get quite well when she got a nurse. The carriage drove
off, and Henry, with a heavy spirit, returned to the house to listen to
his father's lectures, his aunts' ejaculations, and his wife's murmurs.
"We may boldly spend upon the hope of what Is to come in."
THE birth of twin daughters awakened the young father to a still
stronger sense of the total dependence and extreme helplessness of his
condition. Yet how to remedy it he knew not. To accept of his father's
proposal was out of the question, and it was equally impossible for him,
were he ever so inclined, to remain much longer a burden on the narrow
income of the Laird of Glenfern. One alternative only remained, which
was to address the friend and patron of his youth, General Cameron; and
to him he therefore wrote, describing all the misery of his situation,
and imploring his forgiveness and assistance. "The old General's passion
must have cooled by this time," thought he to himself, as he sealed the
letter, "and as he has often overlooked former scrapes, I think, after
all, he will help me out of this greatest one of all."
For once Henry was not mistaken. He received an answer to his letter, in
which the General, after execrating his folly in marrying a lady of
quality, swearing at the birth of his twin daughters, and giving him
some wholesome counsel as to his future mode of life, concluded by
informing him that he had got him reinstated in his former rank in the
army; that he should settle seven hundred per annum on him till he saw
how matters were conducted, and, in the meantime, enclosed a draught for
four hundred pounds, to open the campaign.
Though this was not, according to Henry's notions, "coming down
handsomely," still it was better than not coming down at all, and with a
mixture of delight and disappointment he flew to communicate the tidings
to Lady Juliana.
"Seven hundred pounds a year!" exclaimed she, in raptures: "Heavens!
what a quantity of money! why, we shall be quite rich, and I shall have
such a beautiful house, and such pretty carriages, and give such
parties, and buy so many fine things. Oh dear, how happy I shall be!"
"You know little of money, Julia, if you think seven hundred pounds will
do all that," replied her husband gravely. "I hardly think we can afford
a house in town; but we may have a pretty cottage at Richmond or
Twickenham, and I can keep a curricle, and drive you about, you know;
and we may give famous good dinners."
A dispute here ensued; her ladyship hated cottages and curricles and
good dinners as much as her husband despised fancy balls, opera boxes,
The fact was that the one knew very nearly as much of the real value of
money as the other, and Henry's _sober_ scheme was just as practicable
as his wife's extravagant one.
Brought up in the luxurious profusion of great house; accustomed to
issue her orders and have them obeyed, Lady Juliana, at the time she
married, was in the most blissful state of ignorance respecting the
value of pounds, shillings, and pence. Her maid took care to have her
wardrobe supplied with all things needful, and when she wanted a new
dress or a fashionable jewel, it was only driving to Madame D.'s, or Mr.
Y.'s, and desiring the article to be sent to herself, while the bill
went to her papa.
From never seeing money in its own vulgar form, Lady Juliana had learned
to consider it as a mere nominal thing; while, on the other hand, her
husband, from seeing too much of it, had formed almost equally erroneous
ideas of its powers. By the mistake kindness of General Cameron he had
been indulged in all the fashionable follies of the day, and allowed to
use his patron's ample fortune as if it had already been his own; nor
was it until he found himself a prisoner at Glenfern from want of money
that he had ever attached the smallest importance to it. In short, both
the husband and wife had been accustomed to look upon it in the same
light as the air they breathed. They knew it essential to life, and
concluded that it would come some way or other; either from the east or
west, north or south. As for the vulgar concerns of meat and drink,
servants' wages, taxes, and so forth, they never found a place in the
calculations of either. Birthday dresses, fetes, operas, equipages, and
state liveries whirled in rapid succession through Lady Juliana's brain,
while clubs, curricles, horses, and claret, took possession of her
However much they differed in the proposed modes of showing off in
London, both agreed perfectly in the necessity of going there, and Henry
therefore hastened to inform his father of the change in his
circumstances, and apprise him of his intention of immediately joining
his regiment, the ---- Guards.
"Seven hunder pound a year!" exclaimed the old gentleman; "Seven hunder
pound! O' what can ye mak' o' a' that siller? Ye'll surely lay by the
half o't to tocher your bairns. Seven hunder pound a year for doing
Miss Jacky was afraid, unless they got some person of sense (which would
not be an easy matter) to take the management of it, it would perhaps be
found little enough in the long-run.
Miss Grlzzy declared it was a very handsome income, nobody could dispute
that; at the same time, everybody must allow that the money could not
have been better bestowed.
Miss Nicky observed "there was a great deal of good eating and drinking
in seven hundred a year, if people knew how to manage it."
All was bustle and preparation throughout Glenfern Castle, and the young
ladies' good-natured activity and muscular powers were again in
requisition to collect the wardrobe, and pack the trunks, imperial,
etc., of their noble sister.
Glenfern remarked "that fules war fond o' flitting, for they seemed glad
to leave the good quarters they were in."
Miss Grizzy declared there was a great excuse for their being glad, poor
things! young people were always so fond of a change; at the same time,
nobody could deny but that it would have been quite natural for them to
feel sorry too.
Miss Jacky was astonished how any person's mind could be so callous as
to think of leaving Glenfern without emotion.
Miss Nicky wondered what was to become of the christening cake she
had ordered from Perth; it might be as old as the hills before there
would be another child born amongst them.
The Misses were ready to weep at the disappointment of the
In the midst of all this agitation, mental and bodily, the
long-looked-for moment arrived. The carriage drove round ready packed
and loaded, and, absolutely screaming with delight, Lady Juliana sprang
into it. As she nodded and kissed her hand to the assembled group, she
impatiently called to Henry to follow. His adieus were, however, not
quite so tonish as those of his high-bred lady, for he went duly and
severally through all the evolutions of kissing, embracing, shaking of
hands, and promises to write; then taking his station by the side of the
nurse and child--the rest of the carriage being completely filled by the
favourites--he bade a long farewell to his paternal halls and the land
of his birth.