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The Mother's Recompense, Volume I. by Grace Aguilar

Part 5 out of 6

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the carriage rolled away from Berkeley Square. Every circumstance of
their journey increased her childlike glee, every town they passed
through an object of interest, and even the pensive features of her
cousin Ellen reflected her unchecked joyousness. They seldom travelled
more than forty miles a day, and consequently it was not till the
evening of the fourth they neared the village, whose inhabitants, clad
in holiday attire, stood at the doors of their houses to receive them,
with silent and respectful yet very evident tokens of joy. The evening
was most lovely; the sun had lost the splendour of its beams, though
clouds of every brilliant hue proclaimed the increased glory which
attended its hour of rest, at times lost behind a richly glowing cloud,
and then bursting forth again and dyeing all nature with a flood of
gold. The river lay calmly sleeping before them, while on its glassy
bosom the heavens cast their radiance, relieved by the shade of the
mighty trees that stood to guard its banks; the rich foliage of the
trees, the superb green of the fields, in some of which the ripening
corn was beginning to stud with gold, the varied flowers gemming the
fertile hedge, the holy calmness of this summer eve, all called forth
the best feelings of the human heart. For a few minutes even Emmeline
was silent, and then her clear silvery voice was heard chanting, as if
by an irresistible impulse, the beautiful hymn of the Tyrolese, so
peculiarly appropriate to the scene. On, on they went, the white walls
of the church peeping through clustering ivy, the old and venerable
rectory next came in sight; a few minutes more, and the heavy gates of
Oakwood were thrown wide to receive them, and the carriages swept along
the well-known entrance. Every tree and shrub, and even flower, were now
looked on by Emmeline and Percy with increased and somewhat boisterous
expressions of delight.

"Try if you cannot be still a very short time longer, dear Emmeline,"
whispered the more restrained Ellen, whose eye had caught a glimpse of
Caroline's countenance, and who perceived in an instant her feelings
were not in unison with Emmeline's. She was right; Caroline could not
feel as did her sister. She was not the same light-hearted, innocent
being she had been when she quitted Oakwood; the appearance of the home
of her childhood vividly recalled all that had occurred since she had
mingled in the world, that world of which she had indulged so many
brilliant visions; and while Entmeline's laugh conveyed gladness in that
hour to all who heard it, Caroline leaned forward to conceal from her
companions the tears that stole silently down her cheek.

A shout from Percy proclaimed the old hall in sight. A group of
domestics stood on the steps, and the setting sun threw its brilliant
hues on the mansion, as if with increased and unusual lustre that
venerable spot should welcome the return of the Hamilton family within
its sheltering walls.


"There wants but the guardian spirit of yon old Manor to render this
scene as perfect as her society would bid the present hours roll on in
unalloyed felicity to me," was Herbert Hamilton's observation some
little time after their return to Oakwood, as he stood, arm in arm with
his friend Arthur Myrvin, on the brow of a hill which overlooked, among
other beautiful objects, Greville Manor, now inhabited by strangers.

Young Myrvin smiled archly, but ere their walk that evening was
concluded, he too had become interested in the being so dear to his
friend; for Herbert spoke in perfect confidence, secure of friendly
sympathy. Oakwood was to him as dear, perhaps even dearer than to
Emmeline, for his nature and tastes were not such as any amusement in
London could gratify. His recreation from the grave studies necessary
for the profession which he had chosen, was to wander forth with a
congenial spirit, and marking Nature in all her varied robes, adore his
Creator in His works as well as in His word. In London his ever active
mind longed intensely to do good, and his benevolent exertions
frequently exceeded his strength; it was his chief delight to seek the
dwellings of the poor, to relieve distress, alleviate affliction. The
prisoner in his cell, the bold and wilful transgressor of the laws of
God, these would he teach, and by gentle admonitions bring nearer to the
Throne of Grace. Yet notwithstanding the gratification which the
pursuits of Herbert gave to his parents, they often felt considerable
anxiety lest his health should suffer from his unceasing efforts, and
they rejoiced on that account when their removal to Oakwood afforded
their son a quieter and more healthful field of occupation. For miles
around Oakwood the name of Herbert Hamilton was never spoken without a
blessing. There he could do good; there he could speak of God, and
behold the fruits of his pious labours; there was Mr. Howard ever ready
to guide and to sympathise, and there was the field of Nature spread
before him to fill his heart with increased and glowing adoration and
reverential love.

It was well for Herbert his parents were such as could understand and
sympathise in these exalted feelings; had harshness, or even neglect,
been extended over his childhood and his opening youth, happiness, such
as had gilded his life, would never have been his.

As Emmeline had rejoiced, so also might have Herbert, as they neared the
gates of his home, had there not been one recollection to dim his
happiness. She who had shared in all his pleasures, who had shed a charm
over that spot, a charm which he had never felt so keenly as when he
looked for it, and found it not; the favourite playfellow of his
infancy, the companion of his youth, his plighted bride, she was in far
distant lands, and vainly on his first return home did Herbert struggle
to remove the weight of loneliness resting on his heart; he never
permitted it to be apparent, for to his family he was the same devoted
son and affectionate brother he had ever been, but painfully he felt it.
Mr. Myrvin and his son were now both inmates of Mr. Hamilton's family.
The illegality of the proceedings against the former, in expelling him
from his ministry of Llangwillan, had now been clearly proved, for the
earnestness of Mr. Hamilton permitted no delay; and tears of pious
gratitude chased down the cheeks of the injured man, as he recognised in
the person of his benefactor the brother of the suffering woman whom he
had sheltered, and whose bed of death he had deprived of its sting. The
persuasions of Mr. Hamilton succeeded in conquering his objections to
the plan, and he consented to make Oakwood his home for a short time,
ere he once more settled in his long-loved rectory.

With Arthur, Ellen speedily resumed her place; the remembrance of that
neglected little girl had never left Mr. Myrvin's mind, and when,
radiant in animation and returning health and happiness, she hastily,
almost impetuously, advanced to meet him, he pressed her to his bosom
with the affection of a father; and even as a daughter Ellen devoted
herself to him during his residence at Oakwood. He had been the first in
England to treat her with kindness; he had soothed her childish sorrow,
and cheered her painful duties; he had been the first since her father's
death to evince interest for her, and though so many years had passed,
that the little girl was fast verging into womanhood, yet such things
were not forgotten, and Ellen endeavoured to prove the gratitude which
time had not effaced.

Ellen was happy, her health almost entirely restored; but it was
scarcely possible for any observant person to live with her for any
time, without noticing the expression of pensive melancholy, of subdued
spirit, unnatural in one still so very young, that, unless animated by
any casual circumstances, ever rested on her features. Mr. Myrvin soon
noticed this, and rather wondered such should still be, when surrounded
by so much kindness and affection. Her gentleness and controlled temper,
her respectful devotion to her aunt and uncle, were such as to awaken
his warmest regard, and cause him to regret that shade of remaining
sadness so foreign to her age. Traces of emotion were so visible on her
cheeks one day, returning from a walk with Mr. Myrvin, that Mrs.
Hamilton felt convinced the tale of the past had been told, and fearing
her niece had done herself injustice, she scrupled no longer in alluding
to it herself. Mr. Myrvin was deeply affected at the tale, and much
relieved when the whole was known; for when he had praised her general
conduct, and approved of so many feelings and sentiments she had
acknowledged, and then tenderly demanded the cause of that depression he
sometimes witnessed, Ellen had given vent to a violent burst of emotion,
and spoken of a sin, a fearful sin, which long years of probation alone
could wash away. Her strong, her terrible temptation, her extreme
wretchedness and dreadful sufferings she had not mentioned, and,
consequently, when known, an air of even more gentle and more
affectionate interest pervaded Mr. Myrvin's manner towards her. Hearing
her one day express an ardent desire once more to visit Llangwillan, to
see again her mother's grave, he earnestly entreated Mrs. Hamilton's
permission for her to visit him for a few weeks: her company would, he
said, indeed shed joy over his home, and afford much pleasure to a
widowed sister who resided with him. Mrs. Hamilton smilingly consented,
and a flush of animated pleasure dyed Ellen's cheeks at the proposal.
For about a quarter of an hour she was all delight and animation, when
suddenly a thought entered her mind, banishing her unusual mirth, and
filling her eyes with tears. Her voice faltered audibly, as she warmly
thanked Mr. Myrvin and her aunt for their wish to increase her
happiness, but she would rather not leave home that year. The change was
so sudden, her manner so contradictory to her words, that Mrs. Hamilton,
believing some fanciful reason existed, would have insisted on her
compliance, and playfully accused her of unfounded caprice. There was,
however, a degree of earnest entreaty in her manner, that Mr. Myrvin
would not combat, and he expressed himself contented with her promise
for the following year. Mrs. Hamilton was not, however, quite so easily
satisfied. Ellen had been latterly so open with her, that anything like
concealment in her conduct gave her some little uneasiness; but she
could not withstand the imploring look of her niece, as she entreated
her not to think her capricious and wilful; she was sure Mrs. Hamilton
would approve of her reason, did she confess it.

"I am not quite so sure of that," was her aunt's smiling reply; "but,
however, I will trust you, though I do not like mysteries," and the
subject was dismissed.

The manners and conversation of Arthur Myrvin were such as to prepossess
both Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton very much in his favour, and strengthened the
opinion they had already formed concerning him, on the word of their
son. The respectful deference with which he ever treated Caroline and
Emmeline often caused a laugh at his expense from Percy, but gratified
Mrs. Hamilton; Percy declared he stood as much in awe of his sisters as
if they were the highest ladies in the land. Arthur bore his raillery
with unruffled temper, but he felt the distance that fortune placed
between him and those fair girls, and he hoped, by reserve, to lessen
the danger that might in their society attack his peace. Emmeline
mistook this cautious reserve for coldness and distaste towards women,
and, with the arts of a playful child, she frequently endeavoured to
draw him from his abstraction, and render him a more agreeable

There was still so very much of the child in Emmeline, though now
rapidly approaching her eighteenth birthday, she was still so very young
in manners and appearance, that the penetration of Mrs. Hamilton must
not be too severely criticised, if it failed in discovering that
intimately mingled with this childlike manner--the warm enthusiasm of a
kind nature--was a fund of deep reflection, and feelings quite equal to
her age. Mrs. Hamilton fancied the realities of life were still to her a
dream. Had any one spoken to her of the marriage of Emmeline as soon
taking place, she would have started at the idea, as a thing for some
years impossible; and that her affections might become engaged--that the
childlike, innocent, joyous Emmeline, whose gayest pleasures still
consisted in chasing with wild glee the butterflies as they sported on
the summer flowers, or tying garlands of the fairest buds to adorn her
own or her sister's hair, or plucking the apples from the trees and
throwing them to the village children as they sauntered at the orchard
gate--whose graver joys consisted in revelling in every poet that her
mother permitted her to read, or making her harp resound with wild,
sweet melody--whose laugh was still so unchecked and gay--that such a
being could think of love, of that fervid and engrossing passion, which
can turn the playful girl into a thinking woman, Mrs. Hamilton may be
pardoned if she deemed it as yet a thing that could not be; and she,
too, smiled at the playful mischief with which Emmeline would sometimes
claim the attention of young Myrvin, engage him in conversation, and
then, with good-humoured wit and repartee, disagree in all he said, and
compel him to defend his opinions with all the eloquence he possessed.

With Ellen, young Myrvin was more at his ease; he recalled the days that
were past, and never felt with her the barrier which his sensitive
delicacy had placed between himself and her cousins. Arthur was proud,
more so than he was aware of himself. He would have considered himself
more humbled to love and sue for one raised by fortune or rank above
him, than in uniting with one, who in both these essentials was his
inferior. He was ambitious, but for honours and station obtained by his
own endeavours not conferred by another. From his earliest youth he had
grown up with so strong an impression that he was intended for the
Church, that he considered it impossible any other profession could suit
him better. When he mingled intimately at college with young men of
higher rank and higher hopes, he discovered too late that a clergyman's
life was not such as to render him most happy; but he could not draw
back, he would not so disappoint his father. He felt and knew, to obtain
the summit of his desires, to be placed in a public situation, where his
ambition would have full scope, required a much larger fortune than his
father possessed. He clothed himself in what he believed to be
resignation and contentment, but which was in truth a morbid
sensitiveness to his lot in life, which he imagined poverty would
separate from every other. Association with Herbert Hamilton, to whom in
frankness he confided these secret feelings, did much towards removing
their bitterness; and the admiration which he felt for Herbert, whose
unaffected piety and devotion to the Church he could not fail to
appreciate, partially reconciled his ambitious spirit to his station.
Yet the exalted ideas of Herbert were not entirely shared by Arthur,
whose thoughts were centred in a more stirring field of usefulness than
it would in all probability be his to fill. Herbert combated these
objections with so much eloquence, he pointed with such ardent zeal to
the crown eternal that would be his, when divine love had triumphed over
all earthly ambition, and his duties were done for love of Him, who had
ordained them, that when the time of his ordination came (which it did
very shortly after the commencement of this chapter), he would not have
drawn back, even had a more attractive profession been offered for his
acceptance. The friendship and countenance of Mr. Hamilton did much to
reconcile him to his lot. Mr. Howard's curate died suddenly, at the very
time that Mr. Hamilton was writing to the Marquis of Malvern, in
Arthur's favour, for a vacant living then at his disposal. Both now were
offered to the young man's choice, and Percy, even Mr. Hamilton himself,
were somewhat surprised that, without a moment's hesitation, he accepted
that under Mr. Howard, in the gift of Mr. Hamilton, inferior as it was
in point of worldly prospects to Lord Malvern's. His two parishes were
situated about nine or ten miles from Oakwood, and seven or eight from
Mr. Howard's rectory, and ere Mr. Myrvin returned to Llangwillan, he had
the satisfaction of seeing his son settled comfortably in his curacy,
performing his duties to the approval of his rector, and gaining by his
manner the affection of his parishioners.

Herbert alone knew to its full extent the conquest his friend had
achieved over himself. His inclination led him to ambitious paths, where
he might in time obtain the notice of and mingle in the highest ranks;
but when the innate nobleness of his mind showed him where his duty lay,
when conscience loudly whispered now was the time to redeem the errors
of his college life, to prove his reverence for his father, to preserve
the kindness of those friends, exalted alike by rank and virtue, with
whom he still might mingle, with a strong effort he banished all
ambitious wishes, and devoted himself heart and soul to his ministerial

Herbert would speak of his friend at home, of his self-conquering
struggles, till all would sympathise in the interest he so warmly
displayed, particularly Emmeline, with whom, sportive as she was,
Herbert from his childhood had had more thoughts and feelings in common
than he ever had with Caroline; and now, whether he spoke of Mary
Greville or Arthur Myrvin, in her he ever found a willing and attentive
auditor. Whenever he had ridden over to Hawthorndell, which he
frequently did, Emmeline would always in their next walk playfully draw
from him every particular of the "Lone Hermit," as in true poetic style
she termed Arthur. But there was no seriousness in her converse either
of or to young Myrvin. There was always mischief lurking in her
laughter-loving eye; always some wild joke betrayed in the arch smiles
ever lingering round her mouth; but mischief as it was, apparently the
mere wantonness of childhood, or very early youth, something in that
glance or smile ever bade young Myrvin's heart beat quicker than before,
and every pulse throb with what at first he deemed was pain. It was
relief to him to seek the quiet, gentle Ellen, and speak to her even as
he would to a sister, of all that had occurred to him since last they
met, so secure was he of sympathy in his future prospects, his present
cares and joys. But still that strange feeling lingered within his bosom
in his solitary hours, and he dwelt on it much more than on the gentle
accents of that fair girl whom in his boyhood he had termed his wife;
and stranger still, if it were pain, that it should urge him on to seek
it, that he could not rest till the glance of that eye, the tone of that
voice, had once more been seen and heard, till fresh excitement had been
given to thoughts and emotions which were unconsciously becoming the
mainsprings of his life.

The undisturbed and happy calmness of Oakwood removed in a great measure
Caroline's painful feelings; all thoughts of Lord Alphingham were
gradually banished. The question how she could ever have been so blind
as to imagine that he had gained her affections, that she loved him,
returned more frequently than she could answer.

But another vision stood forth to confront the darkened one of the
Viscount, and the contrast heightened the lustre of the former. Why had
she been so mad, so infatuated, as to reject with scorn and pride the
hand and heart of one so noble, so fond, so superior as Eugene St. Eval?
Now that the film had been removed from her eyes, that all the past
appeared in its true colours, that self-will and love of independence
had departed from her, the startling truth burst upon her mind, that
she had loved, truly loved, the very man who of all others would have
been the choice of both her parents--loved, and as his wife, might have
been one of the happiest, the most envied of her sex, had not that
indomitable spirit of coquetry urged her on, and lowered her to become a
very tool in the hands of the artful and designing Annie Grahame.

Caroline loved; had she doubted the existence of that passion, every
letter from Mary Greville would have confirmed it; for we will not say
it was jealousy she felt, it was more self-condemnation and regret,
heightened at times almost into wretchedness. That St. Eval should so
soon forget her, that he should love again ere six months had passed,
could not fail to be a subject of bitter mortification to one in whose
bosom pride still rested. She would not have thus tormented herself with
turning and twisting Mary's information into such ideas, had she not
felt assured that he had penetrated her weakness, and despised her.
Fickleness was no part of St. Eval's character, of that she was
convinced; but it was natural he should cease to love, when he had
ceased to esteem, and in the society and charms of Louisa Manvers
endeavour to forget his disappointment.

Through Emmeline's introductory letter, Lord St. Eval had become
sufficiently intimate with Mrs. Greville and Mary as to succeed in his
persuasions for them to leave their present residence, and occupy a
vacant villa on Lago Guardia, within a brief walk of Lord Delmont's,
feeling sure that an intimacy between Mrs. Manvers's family and that of
Mrs. Greville would be mutually pleasurable and beneficial; his friendly
wishes succeeded. Mrs. Greville found an able and sympathising
companion in the goodhearted, homely mother of the elegant and
accomplished Lord Delmont, and Mary's sadness was at once soothed and
cheered by the more animated Louisa, whose lot in life had never known
those murky clouds of sorrow and anxiety which had so often dimmed the
youth of Mary. The brother of Louisa had been all in all to her. She
felt as if life could not have another charm, as if not another joy was
wanting to render her lot perfect, until that other charm appeared, and
her ardent fancy quickly knew to its full extent the delights of female
companionship and sympathy. Their very dissimilitude of disposition
rendered dearer the ties of youthful friendship, and Emmeline sometimes
felt a pang of jealousy, as she read in the letters of her friend the
constant praises of Louisa Manvers, not that any diminution of early
affection breathed in them. Mary ever wrote so as to satisfy the most
exacting disposition; but it required all Mrs. Hamilton's eloquence to
persuade Emmeline she should rather rejoice than grieve that Mary had
found some one to supply her place. But vainly Emmeline tried in
playfulness to infect her brother Herbert with a portion of her
jealousy, for she knew not the contents of those letters Mary ever wrote
to Herbert, or she would not for one moment have imagined that either
Lord Delmont or St. Eval would usurp her brother's place.

"Few things would give me greater pleasure," one of Mary's letters said,
"than to see the union of Lord St. Eval and my fair friend. It appears
to me strange that each, with affections disengaged, can remain blind to
the fascination of the other. They are well suited in every respect,
and I should fancy their union would certainly be a fair promise of
happiness. I live in hope, though as yet, I must confess, hope has but
very little to feed on."

St. Eval still lingered at Monte Rosa, and it was well for the
inhabitants he did, for an event occurred which plunged that happy
valley from joy and gaiety into wailing and affliction, and even for a
brief interval infected the inhabitants of Oakwood with its gloom. Death
came, and tore away as his victim the widow's son, the orphan's brother.
The title of Delmont became extinct, for the last scion of that ancient
race had gone to his last home. He had gone with St. Eval and some other
young men on a fishing expedition, at some distance; a sudden squall had
arisen, and dispersing with much damage the little flotilla, compelled
the crews of each to seek their own safety. The sails of St. Eval's boat
were not furled quickly enough to escape the danger; it upset, and
though, after much buffeting and struggling with the angry waters, St.
Eval succeeded in bearing his insensible friend to land, his
constitution had received too great a shock, and he lingered but a few
brief weeks ere he was released from suffering. He had been thrown with
violence against a rock, producing a concussion of the brain, which,
combined with the length of time he was under water, produced fever, and
finally death.

On the agony of the bereaved mother and sister it would be useless to
linger. St. Eval forgot his individual sorrows, and devoted himself,
heart and soul, in relieving those helpless sufferers, in which painful
task he was ably seconded by Mary and her mother, whose letters to their
friends at Oakwood, in that season of affliction, spoke of him in a
manner that, unconsciously to themselves, confirmed every miserable
suspicion in Caroline's mind, and even excited some such feeling in her
parents, whose disappointment was thus vividly recalled. That he should
ever seek their child again they deemed impossible, as did Caroline
herself; but still it was in vain they endeavoured to look with any
degree of pleasure to his union with another.

Mr. Hamilton's family mourned Lord Delmont's early fate with sincere
regret, though they had known but little of him; but about this time the
thoughts of Mrs. Hamilton were turned in another direction, by a
circumstance which caused unaffected sorrow in her daughter and niece;
nor were she and her husband exempt. Lucy Harcourt had been so many
years a member of the family, she had been so associated from their
infancy in the affections of her pupils, that to part from her was the
bitterest pang of sorrow that Emmeline had yet known, and it was long
before Mrs. Hamilton herself could be reconciled to the idea of
separation; she had ever regarded and treated Miss Harcourt as a sister,
and intended that even when her family were settled, she should never
want another home. It was not only her own virtues that had endeared her
to Mrs. Hamilton; the services she had rendered her children, her active
and judicious share in the arduous task of education, demanded and
received from both Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton the meed of gratitude and
esteem, and never once, in the seventeen years of Miss Harcourt's
residence amongst them, had they regretted the impulse which had offered
her a sheltering home and sympathising friends.

Emmeline and Ellen were still her pupils, and Mrs. Hamilton intended
them to remain so for two or three years longer, even after they were
introduced, and it was on that account Miss Harcourt hesitated in
complying with the earnest entreaty of him whose happy home in her early
youth she had so nobly quitted, preferring to live by her own exertions
than to share the home of the man she loved, when he was married to

It had been very, very long ere disappointed affection had permitted her
to be cheerful. Her cousin, while rejoicing in the happy home she had
found, while congratulating her with fraternal interest on the kind
friends her mother's virtues had procured her, imagined not the agony
she was striving to conquer, the devoted love for him which disturbed
the peace around her, which otherwise she might have enjoyed to its full
extent; but she did conquer at length. That complete separation from him
did much towards restoring peace although perhaps love might still have
lingered; for what absence, what distance can change a woman's heart?
Yet it interfered no longer with happiness, and she answered Seymour's
constant and affectionate letters in his own style, as a sister would
have done.

Sixteen years had passed, and not once had the cousins met. Womanhood in
its maturity was now Lucy's; every girlish feeling had fled, and she
perhaps thought young affections had gone also, but her cheek flushed
and every pulse throbbed, when she opened a long, long expected letter,
and found her cousin was a widower in declining health, which precluded
him from attending to his two motherless girls, imploring her, as her
duties in Mrs. Hamilton's family were nearly over, to leave England and
be the guardian spirit of his home, to comfort his affliction, to soothe
his bodily suffering, and learn to know and love his children, ere they
were fatherless as well as motherless, and deprived of every friend save
the aunt Lucy they had been taught to love, although to them unknown.
The spirit of deep melancholy breathing through this epistle called
forth for a few minutes a burst of tears from her who for so many years
had checked all selfish grief.

"If I can comfort him, teach his children to love me, and be their
mother now they are orphans, oh, I shall not have lived in vain." Such
were the words that escaped her lips as she ceased to weep, and sat a
few minutes in thought, then sought Mrs. Hamilton and imparted all to
her. Mrs. Hamilton hesitated not a moment in her decision. Her own
regret at parting with her friend interfered not an instant with the
measure she believed would so greatly tend to the happiness of Miss
Harcourt. Mr. Hamilton seconded her; but the sorrow at separation, which
was very visible in the midst of their exertions for her welfare, both
gratified and affected Lucy. Never had she imagined how dear she was to
her pupils till the time of separation came; and when she quitted
England, it was with a heart swelling with interest and affection for
those she had left, and the fervent prayer that they might meet again.

Mr. Seymour had said, were it not for his declining health, which
forbade the exertion of travelling, he would have come for her himself;
but if she would only consent to his proposal, if she could resign such
kind friends to devote herself to an irritable and ailing man, he would
send one under whose escort she might safely travel. Miss Harcourt
declined that offer, for Mr. Hamilton and Percy had both declared their
intention of accompanying her as far as Paris, and thence to Geneva,
where Mr. Seymour resided.

It was long ere Mr. Hamilton's family became reconciled to this change;
Oakwood appeared so strange without the kind, the gentle Miss Harcourt,
whose steady yet mild firmness had so ably assisted Mrs. Hamilton in the
rearing of her now blooming and virtuous family. It required some
exertion, not only in Emmeline but in Ellen, to pursue their studies
with any perseverance, now that the dear friend who had directed and
encouraged them had departed. Ellen's grateful affection had the last
few years been returned with equal warmth; that prejudice which had at
first characterised Miss Harcourt's feelings towards her had entirely
vanished during her sufferings, and a few days before her departure,
Lucy with much feeling had admitted the uncalled for harshness with
which she too had treated her in her months of misery, and playfully yet
earnestly asked her forgiveness. They were alone, and Ellen's only
answer had been to throw herself on her friend's neck and weep.

Before Christmas came, however, these painful feelings had been
conquered. Pleasing letters from Miss Harcourt arrived by almost every
post for one or other of the inmates of Oakwood, and their contents
breathing her own happiness, and the warmest, most affectionate interest
in the dear ones she had left, satisfied even Emmeline, from whom a
fortnight's visit from the Earl and Countess of Elmore had banished all
remaining trace of sadness. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton had welcomed but very
few resident visitors to Oakwood during the early years of their
children, but now it was with pleasure they exercised the hospitality so
naturally their own, and received in their own domains the visits of
their most intimate friends of London; but these visits afford us no
matter of entertainment, nor enter much into the purpose of this
history. A large party was never collected within the walls of Oakwood;
the intimate friends of Mr. Hamilton were but few, for it was only those
who thought on the essentials of life as himself with whom he mingled in
the familiar position of host. The Marquis of Malvern's family alone
remained to spend Christmas with them, and added much to the enjoyment
of that domestic circle. Their feelings and pursuits were in common, for
the Marchioness of Malvern was a mother after Mrs. Hamilton's own stamp,
and her children had benefited by similar principles; the same
confidence existed between them. The Marchioness had contrived to win
both the reverence and affection of her large family, though
circumstances had prevented her devoting as much of her own time and
care on their education as had Mrs. Hamilton. Her eldest daughter was
married; her second, some few years older than Caroline, was then
staying with her, and only one of the three who accompanied her to
Oakwood was as yet introduced. Lady Florence was to make her _debut_ the
following season, with Emmeline Hamilton; and Lady Emily was still, when
at home, under the superintendence of a governess and masters. Lord
Louis, the Marchioness's youngest child, a fine lad of sixteen, with his
tutor, by Mr. Hamilton's earnest desire, also joined their happy party,
and by his light-hearted humour and fun, added not a little to the
amusements of the evening. But it was Lady Gertrude, the eldest of the
three sisters then at Oakwood, that Mrs. Hamilton earnestly hoped might
take the place Annie Grahame had once occupied in Caroline's affections.
Hers was a character much resembling her brother's St. Eval, to whom her
features also bore a striking resemblance. She might, at a first
introduction, have been pronounced proud, but, as is often the case,
reserve was mistaken for pride. Yet in her domestic circle she was ever
the gayest, and the first to contribute to general amusement. In
childhood she had stood in a degree alone, for her elder sisters were
four or five years older than herself, and Florence and Emily four and
five years younger. She had learned from the first to seek no sympathy,
and her strong feeling might perhaps by being constantly smothered, at
length have perished within her, and left her the cold unloving
character she appeared to the world, had it not been for the devoted
affection of her brother Eugene, in whom she soon learned to confide
every emotion as it rose, at that age when girls first become sensible
that they are thinking and feeling beings. They quickly became sensible
that in almost every point they were kindred souls, and the name of
Eugene and Gertrude were ever heard together in their family. Their
affection was at length a proverb among their brothers and sisters, and
perhaps it was this great similarity of disposition and the regard felt
for her noble brother, that first endeared Gertrude to Mrs. Hamilton,
whose wishes with regard to her and Caroline promised fulfilment. Some
chord of sympathy had been struck within them, and they were very soon
attached companions, although at first Lady Gertrude had hesitated, for
she could not forget the tale of scornfully-rejected love imparted to
her by her brother. She had marked the conduct of Caroline from the
beginning. She too had hoped that in her she might have welcomed a
sister, although her observant eye had marked some defects in her
character which the ardent St. Eval had not perceived. Coolness during
the past season had subsisted between them, for Caroline had taken no
trouble to conquer Lady Gertrude's reserve, and the latter was too proud
to make advances. In vain Lord St. Eval had wished a better
understanding should exist between them, while Caroline was under the
influence of Miss Grahame, it was impossible for her to associate in
sympathy with Lady Gertrude Lyle; yet now that they mingled in the
intimacy of home, now the true character of Caroline was apparent, that
Lady Gertrude had time and opportunity to remark her devotion to her
parents, more particularly to her mother, her affectionate kindness to
her brothers and Emmeline and Ellen, her very many sterling virtues,
which had previously been concealed, but which were discovered by the
tributes of grateful affection constantly offered to her by the
inhabitants of the village, by the testimony of Mr. Howard, the
self-conquests of temper and inclination for the sake of others, which
the penetrating eye of Lady Gertrude discovered, and, above all, the
spirit of piety and meekness which now characterised her actions, all
bade the sister of St. Eval reproach herself for condemning without
sufficient evidence. For her conduct to her brother there was indeed no
excuse, and on that subject alone, with regard to Caroline, Lady
Gertrude felt bewildered, and utterly unable to comprehend her. It was a
subject on which neither chose to speak, for it was a point of delicacy
to both. Had Lady Gertrude been excluded from her brother's confidence,
she too might have spoken as carelessly and admiringly of him as his
sisters constantly did; but she could not so address the girl who had
rejected him, it would be pleading his cause, from which she revolted
with a repugnance natural to her high-minded character.

"If he still love her, as his letters would betray, let him come and
plead his own cause; never will I say anything that can make Caroline
believe I am in secret negotiating for him." Such was the thought that
ever checked her, when about to speak of him in the common course of
conversation, and baffled all Caroline's secret wishes that she would
speak in his praise as her sisters and Lord Louis so constantly did.

But even as delicacy prevented all allusion to him from the lips of Lady
Gertrude, so it actuated Caroline with perhaps even greater force. Would
she betray herself, and confess that she repented her rejection of St.
Eval? would she by word or deed betray that, would he return to her, she
would be his own, and feel blessed in his affections? She shrunk almost
in horror from doing so, and roused her every energy to conceal and
subdue every emotion, till she could hear his name with composure. Yet
more than once had Lady Gertrude, as she silently watched her
countenance, fancied she perceived sufficient evidence to bid her wonder
what could have induced Caroline's past conduct, to imagine that if St.
Eval could forget that, he might be happy yet; and for his sake,
conquering her scruples, once she spoke openly of him, when she and
Caroline were visiting some poor cottagers alone. She spoke of his
character, many points of which, though she admired, she regretted, as
rendering him less susceptible of happiness than many who were less
gifted. "Unless he find a wife to love him as he loves--one who will
devote herself to him alone, regardless of rank or fortune, Eugene never
can be happy; and if he pass through life, unblest by the dearest and
nearest ties, he will be miserable." So much she did say, and added her
earnest wishes for his welfare, in a tone that caused the tears to
spring to the eyes of her companion, who permitted her to speak for some
time without in any way replying.

"What a pity you are his sister," she replied, rallying all her energies
to speak frankly and somewhat sportively; "a woman like yourself is
alone worthy of Lord St. Eval."

"You are wrong," replied Lady Gertrude, sadly; "I am much too cold and
reserved to form, as a wife, the happiness of such a character as my
brother's. We have grown together from childhood, we have associated
more intimately and affectionately with each other than with any other
members of our family, and therefore Eugene knows and loves me. The wife
of St. Eval should be of a disposition as ingenuous and open as his is
reserved; her affection, her sympathy, must make his felicity. He is
grave--too grave; she should be playful, but not childish. Even if she
have some faults, with the love for which my brother pines, the
ingenuousness unsullied by the most trifling artifice, her very faults
would bind her more closely to him."

Caroline was silent, and Lady Gertrude soon after changed the subject.
Had she heard no reports of Caroline's preference of Lord Alphingham, of
the affair which had somewhat hurried Mr. Hamilton's departure from
London, that conversation would have confirmed her suspicions, that her
brother was no subject of indifference to Caroline. She longed for her
to be candid with her, to hear the whole truth from her own lips. The
happiness of the young Earl was so dear to her, that she would have done
much, very much to secure it; yet so far she could not force herself to
go, particularly as he had given her no charge to do so. She little knew
that Caroline would have given worlds, had they been at her disposal, to
have confided all to her: her repentance, her folly, her earnest prayers
for amendment, to become at length worthy of St. Eval. Caroline loved,
truly loved, because she esteemed, Lady Gertrude; her friendship for her
differed as much from that she believed she had felt for Annie Grahame,
as her regard for St. Eval was unlike that which Lord Alphingham had
originated. Once, the superiority of Lady Gertrude's character would
have rendered her an object of almost dislike to Caroline, as possessing
virtues she admired but would not imitate. Now those virtues were
appreciated, her own inferiority was felt more painfully; and while
associating with her, the recollections of the past returned more than
ever, embittered by remorse. Sir George Wilmot and Lilla Grahame were
also guests at Oakwood. The former declared he had seldom anchored in
moorings so congenial to his taste. In Lilla the effects of happiness
and judicious treatment were already distinctly visible. The young men
spent the Christmas recess at home, and added much to the hilarity of
their domestic circle; nor must we forget Arthur Myrvin, who spent as
much of his time at Oakwood, as his duties permitted; the friendship of
Herbert Hamilton doing much to remove the bitter feelings which often
still possessed him. He would at first have shunned the invitation, but
vainly he strove to do so; for there was one fair object there who held
him with an iron chain, which excited while bound him. He could not
break it asunder, though peace he felt was flying from his grasp.


"Gertrude's letters this morning have brought her some extraordinarily
agreeable tidings," exclaimed Lady Florence Lyle, gaily, as her sister
entered the breakfast-room, rather later than usual.

"On my honour, her countenance is rather a clearer index than usual
to-day," observed the Marquis, laughing. "Well, Gertrude, what is it?"

"News from Eugene," exclaimed Lady Emily and Lord Louis in a breath; "he
is going to be married. Either Miss Manvers or Miss Greville have
consented to take him for better or worse," added Lord Louis, laughing.
"Gertrude, allow me to congratulate you on the gift of a new sister,
who, as the wife of my right honourable brother the Earl of St. Eval,
will be dearer to you than any other bearing the same relationship."

"Reserve your congratulations, Louis, till they are needed," replied
Lady Gertrude, fixing her eyes steadily on Caroline's face, which was
rapidly changing from pale to crimson.

"I have no such exciting news to communicate," she added, very quietly.
"Eugene is in England, and alone."

"In England!" repeated Percy, starting up; "I am delighted to hear it.
I just know enough of him to wish most ardently to know more. Will he
not join us? He surely will not winter at Castle Malvern alone, like a
hermit, surrounded by snows; if he do, he is a bachelor confirmed: not a
hope for his restoration to the congenial warmth of life."

"He has no such intention," replied Lady Gertrude, smiling; "our present
happy circle has too many attractions to permit his resting quietly in
solitude, and, with Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton's kind permission, will join
us here by Christmas Eve."

"There are few whom we shall be so pleased to welcome as my noble young
friend St. Eval," answered Mr. Hamilton, instantly; "few whose society I
so much prize, both for myself and my sons."

"And the minstrel's harp shall sleep no more, but wake her boldest
chords to welcome such a guest to Oakwood's aged walls," exclaimed
Emmeline, gaily.

"Thus I give you leave to welcome him, but if he take my place with you
in our evening walks, I shall wish him back again at Monte Rosa in a
twinkling," observed Lord Louis, in the same gay tone, and looking
archly at his fair companion; "when Eugene appears my reign is always

"Louis, I shall put you under the command of Sir George Wilmot," said
his father, laughing, however, with the rest of the circle.

"Ay, ay, do; the sea is just the berth for such youngsters as these,"
remarked the old Admiral, clapping his hand kindly on the lad's

While such _badinage_ was passing, serious thoughts were occupying the
minds of more than one individual of that circle. It would be difficult
to define the feelings of Caroline as she heard that St. Eval was in
England, and coming to Oakwood. Had he so soon conquered his affections,
that he could associate with lier on terms of friendly intimacy? She
longed to confess to her mother her many conflicting feelings; she felt
that her earnest prayers were her own, but shame prevented all
disclosure. She could not admit she now loved that very man whom she had
once treated with such contempt and scorn, rejected with proud
indifference. Even her mother, her fond mother, would say her present
feelings were a just punishment for the past; and that she could not
bear. Inwardly she resolved that not a word should pass her lips; she
would suffer unshrinkingly, and in silence.

Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, and the Marquis and Marchioness of Malvern also
became engrossed with the same subject; the latter had seen and highly
approved of their son's attentions to Caroline, and appeared gratified
by the manner in which she accepted them. Disappointment and indignation
for a time succeeded the young Earl's departure for the Continent, but
the friendship so long subsisting between the families prevented all
unpleasant feeling, except, perhaps, a little towards Caroline herself.
They gladly welcomed the intelligence that St. Eval was in England, and
wished to join them at Oakwood, for they hailed it as a sign that his
fancy had been but fleeting, and was now entirely conquered. Mr. and
Mrs. Hamilton thought the same, though to them it was far more a matter
of disappointment than rejoicing; but hope mingled almost unconsciously
with regret, and they too were pleased that he was about to become their

Lady Gertrude's eyes were more than once during that morning fixed on
Caroline, as the subject of St. Eval's travels and residence abroad were
discussed, but she was silent; whatever were her secret reflections,
they were confined within the recesses of her own heart.

Lord St. Eval came, and with him fresh enjoyment for Percy and Herbert;
and even for young Myrvin, who found nothing in the society of the young
nobleman to wound his pride by recalling to his mind his own inferior
rank. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton fancied they had read his character before;
but their previous intimacy had not discovered those many pleasing
qualifications which domestic amusements and occupations betrayed. Much
of his reserve was now banished; his manners were as easy and as free
from pride or hauteur as his conversation, though chaste and
intellectual, was from pedantry. To all the individuals of that happy
circle he was the same; as kind and as gay to Emmeline and Ellen as to
his own sisters; there might, perhaps, have been a degree of reserve in
his demeanour towards Caroline, but that, except to those principally
concerned, might not have been remarked, for his intercourse with her
was even more general than with others. Emmeline and Ellen, or even
Lilla, was often his selected companion for a walk, but such an
invitation never extended to Caroline, and yet he could never be said
either to neglect or shun her; and she shrinking from attracting his
notice as much as she had once before courted it, an impassable yet
invisible barrier seemed to exist between them. In St. Eval's manner,
his mother and Lady Gertrude read that his feelings were not conquered;
that he was struggling to subdue them, and putting their subjection to
the proof; but Caroline and her parents imagined, and with bitter pain,
that much as he had once esteemed and loved her, a feeling of
indifference now possessed him.

Herbert found pleasure in the society of the young Earl, for St. Eval
had penetrated the secret of his and Mary's love; though with innate
delicacy he refrained from noticing it farther than constantly to make
Mary his theme during his walks with Herbert, and speaking of her
continually to the family, warming the heart of Emmeline yet more in his
favour, by his sincere admiration of her friend. He gave an excellent
account of her health, which she had desired him to assure her friends
the air of Italy had quite restored. He spoke in warm admiration of her
enthusiasm, her love of nature, of all which called forth the more
exalting feelings; of her unaffected goodness, which had rendered her a
favourite, spite of her being a foreigner and a Protestant, throughout
the whole hamlet of Monte Rosa, and as he thus spoke, the anxious eye of
Mrs. Hamilton ever rested on her Herbert, who could read in that glance
how true and fond was the sympathy, which not once since he had confided
in her his happiness, had he regretted that he had sought.

The remaining period of the Marquis of Malvern's sojourn at Oakwood
passed rapidly away without any event of sufficient importance to find a
place in these pages. They left Oakwood at the latter end of January for
St. Eval's beautiful estate in Cornwall, where they intended to remain a
month ere they went to London, about the same time as Mr. Hamilton's
family. That month was a quiet one at Oakwood; all their guests had
departed, and, except occasional visits from Arthur Myrvin and St.
Eval, their solitude was uninterrupted.

St. Eval's estate was situated a few miles inland from the banks of the
Tamar, one of the most beautiful spots bordering that most beautiful
river. He was wont leisurely to sail down the stream to Plymouth, and
thence to Oakwood, declaring the distance was a mere trifle; but
nevertheless it was sufficiently long for Mr. Hamilton sometimes to
marvel at the taste of his noble friend, which led him often twice and
regularly once a week to spend a few hours, never more, at Oakwood, when
he knew they should so soon meet in London. St. Eval did not solve the
mystery, but continued his visits, bringing cheerfulness and pleasure
whenever he appeared, and bidding hope glow unconsciously in each
parent's heart, though had they looked for its foundation, they would
have found nothing in the young Earl's manner to justify its

In March Mr. Hamilton's family once more sought their residence in
Berkeley Square, about a week after the Marquis of Malvern's arrival;
and this season, the feelings of the sisters, relative to the gaieties
in which they were now both to mingle, were more equal. The bright hues
with which Caroline had before regarded them had faded--too soon and too
painfully, indeed.

She had been deceived, and in that word, when applied to a young,
aspiring, trusting mind, what anguish does it not comprise. True, she
deserved her chastisement, not only that she had acted the part of a
deceiver to one who trusted her far more than she had done Lord
Alphingham, but wilfully she had blinded herself to her own feelings,
that she might prove her independence; yet these facts lessened not the
bitterness of feeling which was now often hers. But she did not
relinquish society; the dread of encountering Lord Alphingham was not
strong enough to overcome her secret wish that, by her conduct in
society, she might prove to St. Eval that, although unworthy to be
selected as his wife, she would yet endeavour to regain his esteem. She
had resolved to think less of herself and more of others, and thus
become more amiable in their sight, and not feel so many mortifications,
as by her constant desire for universal homage, she had previously
endured. She knew the task was difficult so to conquer herself, and
doubting her own strength, was led to seek it where alone it could be
found. To none did she confess these secret feelings and determination;
calmly and steadily she looked forward, and so successfully had she
schooled herself to submission, that no word or sign as yet betrayed to
her parents the real state of her affections.

Emmeline's dislike to London had abated as much as had her sister's
glowing anticipations. They were now only to be four months in the
metropolis; the strict routine of masters, etc., was at an end, and she
was to accompany Mrs. Hamilton whenever she went out. She left Oakwood
with regret, and the society and conversation of Arthur Myrvin were
missed more often in London than she chose to confess, but enjoyment was
ever found for Emmeline--life was still a romance to her. In the society
of London, as in the cottages of Oakwood, she was beloved, and she was
happy; but those of the opposite sex, much as they thronged around her,
had no more thought of demanding such a being in marriage, than she had
of what is termed making conquests. It was therefore with feelings of
much less anxiety Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton mingled in society this season,
for the conduct of both their daughters was such as to afford them

Some changes had taken place in many of the personages with whom we are
acquainted, since the last time we beheld them. Short and evanescent is
fashionable popularity. Lord Alphingham's reign might be, in a degree,
considered over. Some rumours had been floating over the town at that
time of the year when, in all probability, he thought himself most
secure, that is, when London society is dispersed; rumours which had the
effect of excluding him from most of those circles in which Mr.
Hamilton's family mingled, and withdrawing from him in a great measure
the friendship of Montrose Grahame, who, the soul of honour himself,
shrunk from any connection with one whose reputation the faintest breath
had stained. Yet still there were many who regarded these rumours as the
mere whisperings of envy, and with them he was as much a favourite as
ever. Amongst these was Annie Grahame, whose marked preference more than
atoned to the Viscount for her father's coldness. In vain Grahame
commanded that his daughter should change her manner towards him. She,
who had prevailed on a daughter to disobey this very mandate from the
lips of an indulgent parent, was not likely to regard that of the father
whose sternness and often uncalled-for severity had completely alienated
her affections, and Lord Alphingham had now another urgent reason to
flatter Annie's vanity and make her his own.

A distant relation and godmother of Lady Helen Grahame had, most
unexpectedly, left her at her death sole heiress to a handsome fortune,
which was to descend undivided to her elder daughter, and thus to
Annie's other attractions was now added that all-omnipotent charm, the
knowledge that she was an heiress, not perhaps to any very large
property, but quite sufficient to most agreeably enlarge the fortune of
any gentleman who would venture to take her for better or worse. One
would have supposed that now every wish of this aspiring young lady was
gratified; but no. It mattered not, though crowds were at her feet, that
when they met, which was very seldom, even Caroline was no longer her
rival, all the affection she possessed was lavished without scruple on
Lord Alphingham, and every thought was turned, every effort directed
towards the accomplishment of that one design. So deeply engrossed was
she in this resolution, that she had no time nor thought to annoy
Caroline, as she had intended, except in exercising to its full extent
her power over Lord Alphingham whenever she was present, in which the
Viscount's own irritated feelings towards her ably assisted. Caroline
felt the truth of her mother's words, that Lord Alphingham, indeed, had
never honourably loved her; that Annie's conduct justified Mrs.
Hamilton's prejudice, and as her heart shrunk in sadness from the
retrospection of these, truths, it swelled in yet warmer affection, not
only towards her fond and watchful mother, but towards the friends that
mother's judicious choice selected and approved.

Cecil Grahame had been continually in the habit of drawing upon his
mother's cash for the indulgence of his extravagant pleasures, and Lady
Helen had thoughtlessly satisfied all his wishes, without being in the
least aware of the evil propensities she was thus encouraging. It was
not till Cecil was about to leave Eton for the University, that she was
at all startled at the amount of his debts, and then her principal alarm
arose more from the dread of her husband's anger towards her son, if he
discovered the fact, than from any maternal anxiety for Cecil's unsteady
principles. Her only wish was to pay off these numerous debts, without
disclosing them to the husband she so weakly dreaded. How could she
obtain so large a sum, even from her own banker, and thus apply it,
without his knowledge and assistance? The very anticipation of so much
trouble terrified her almost into a fit of illness; and rather than
exert her energies or expose her son to his father's wrath, she would
descend to deceit, and implore his assistance in obtaining the whole
amount, on pretence that she required it for the payment of her own
expenses and debts of honour. She imagined that she had sunk too low in
her husband's esteem to sink much lower; and therefore, if her requiring
money to discharge debts of honour exposed her yet more to his contempt,
it was not of much consequence; besides if it were, she could not help
it, a phrase with which Lady Helen ever contrived to silence the rebukes
of conscience when they troubled her, which, however, was not often.

She acted accordingly; but as she met the glance of her husband, a
glance in which sadness triumphed over severity, she was tempted to
throw herself at his feet, and beseech him not to imagine her the
dissipated woman her words betrayed, for Lady Helen loved her husband as
much as such a nature could love; but, of all things, she hated a scene,
and though every limb trembled with emotion, she permitted him to leave
her, stung almost to madness by the disclosure her request implied. Did
she play? was that fatal propensity added to her numerous other errors?
and yet never had anything fallen under his eye to prove that she did.
And what debts had she contracted to demand such a sum? Grahame felt she
had deceived him; that the money had never been expended on herself; but
he would not torture himself by demanding a true and full disclosure.
The conduct of his children had ever grieved him, and fearing too justly
the request of his wife related to them, madly and despairingly he
closed his eyes and his lips, thus probably encouraging an evil which he
might have prevented. He delivered the stated sum, and that same day
made over to his wife's own unchecked disposal the whole of that fortune
which, when first inherited, she had voluntarily placed in his hands as
trustee for herself and for her daughter, to whom it would descend.
Briefly he resigned the office she had entreated him to take, sternly
observing, that Annie had better moderate her expectations, as, did Lady
Helen frequently incur such heavy debts, not much was likely to descend
to her daughter. It was a great deal too much trouble for Lady Helen to
expostulate, and if any feeling predominated to conquer the pang
occasioned by Grahame's determination, it was relief, that she might now
assist Cecil, if he should require it, without applying to his father.

Montrose Grahame was naturally not only an excellent but a judicious
man; but to a great extent, his judgment had deserted him when he
selected Lady Helen as his wife. Had he been united to a woman in whose
judgment and firmness he could confide, he would have been quite as much
respected and beloved in his family as were Mr. Hamilton and the Marquis
of Malvern in theirs; but now neither respect nor affection was
extended towards him, except, perhaps, by Lilla, and unconsciously by
Lady Helen. Severity constantly indulged, was degenerating into
moroseness; and feelings continually controlled, giving place to
coldness and distrust. It was fortunate for Lilla's happiness and, as it
afterwards proved, for her father's, that she was now under the kindly
care of Mrs. Douglas, for constantly irritated with his elder girl, who,
it must be owned, gave him abundant cause, that irritation and suspicion
would undoubtedly have extended towards his younger, and at once have
destroyed the gentleness and amiability which Mrs. Douglas was so
carefully and tenderly fostering. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton saw this change,
and regretted it; but their influence, powerful as it was, could be of
no avail in counteracting the effect of domestic annoyances, paternal
anxiety, and constantly aroused irritation. Of all the evils in life,
domestic discord is one of the greatest, one under which the heart
bleeds the most; want of sympathy always prevents or banishes affection.
Had Grahame been a careless, selfish man, he might possibly have been
happier; his very sensitiveness was his bane. The silly weaknesses of
his wife might partially have lessened his love for her, but his
children, with all their faults, were dear to their father; they knew
not, guessed not, how much his happiness was centred in theirs; how his
heart was rent with anguish every time that duty, as he imagined, called
on him to be severe. Had he followed the dictates of his nature, he
would rather have ruined his children by over-indulgence than severity;
but the hope of counteracting the effect of their mother's weakness had
guided his mistaken treatment. Could his inmost soul have been read by
those who condemned his harshness, they would have sincerely pitied the
keen and agonized sensitiveness with which he felt the alienation of
their affections. Much as he saw to blame in Annie, had she ever given
him one proof of filial love, all would have been forgiven, and the
blessing of a parent been her own in all she did or wished. Had Cecil
confessed those errors of which he was conscious that he was guilty to
his father, he would have found a true and tender friend, who would have
led his naturally good, though too yielding, character aright, and
misery to both might have been spared, but such was not to be; and in
the fates of Alfred Greville and Cecil Grahame we may chance to perceive
that, whatever may be the difficulties surrounding her, however blighted
may appear the produce of her anxious labours, yet reward will attend
the firm, religious mother, however difficult may be the actual
fulfilment of her duties; while that mother who, surrounded by luxury
and prosperity, believes, by unqualified indulgence, she is firmly
binding her offspring in the observance of love and duty, will reap but
too bitter fruit.

It was when in the presence of the Duchess of Rothbury Caroline felt
most uncomfortable. The family were as cordial as ever, but there was
somewhat in the cold, penetrating eye of her Grace, that bade her almost
unconsciously shrink from meeting its glance. In the previous season the
Duchess had ever singled Caroline out as an object of her especial
regard, a circumstance so unusual in one of her character, that it
rendered her present haughty coldness more difficult to bear. Caroline
would have borne it in silence had it only extended towards herself, but
it appeared as if both Emmeline and Ellen shared the contempt she
perhaps had justly called forth on herself, as the Duchess, tenacious of
her penetrative powers, feared to honour either of them with her favour,
lest she should be again deceived. Caroline longed to undeceive her on
this point, to give her a just estimate of both her sister and cousin's
character, acknowledge how far superior in filial respect and affection,
as well as in innate integrity and uprightness, they were to herself;
but her mother entreated her to let time do its work, and wait till the
Duchess herself discovered they were not what she either believed they
were or might be, and she checked her wish.

We will here mention a circumstance which occurred in Mr. Hamilton's
family soon after their arrival in town, which occasioned Mrs. Hamilton
some uneasiness. Ellen's health was now perfectly re-established, and on
Miss Harcourt's unexpected departure, Mrs. Hamilton had determined on
introducing her niece with Emmeline in the present season. If Lucy had
remained in her family, Ellen would not have made her _debut_ till the
following year, not that her age was any obstacle, for there were only
eight months difference between her and Emmeline, but her retiring
disposition and delicacy of constitution caused Mrs. Hamilton to think
this plan the most advisable. When, however, there was no longer any
excuse with regard to failing health, and no Miss Harcourt with whom her
evenings at home might be more agreeably spent, Mrs. Hamilton, by the
advice of her husband, changed her intention; and Emmeline even made a
joke with Ellen on the admirable fun they should have together,
rejoicing that such an important event in the lives of each should take
place on the same day. It so happened that Ellen never appeared to enter
into her cousin's everlasting merriment on this subject; still she said
nothing for or against till the day all-important with the ordering
their elegant dresses for the occasion. Timidly and hesitatingly she
then ventured to entreat her aunt still to adhere to her first plan, and
allow her to remain quietly at home, under the care of Ellis, till the
following year. Mrs. Hamilton and her cousins looked at her with
astonishment; but the former smilingly replied she could not indulge her
niece in what appeared an unfounded fancy. The dress she should order,
for she hoped Ellen would change her mind before the day arrived, as,
unless a very good reason were given, she could not grant her request.
Ellen appeared distressed; but the conversation changed, and the subject
was not resumed till the day actually arrived, in the evening of which
she was to accompany her aunt to a ball at the Marchioness of Malvern's,
and two days after they were all engaged at a dinner-party at the Earl
of Elmore's.

Summoning all her courage, Ellen entered her aunt's boudoir in the
morning, and again made her request with an earnestness that almost
startled Mrs. Hamilton, particularly as it was accompanied by a
depression of manner, which she now did not very often permit to obtain
ascendency. With affectionate persuasiveness she demanded the reason of
this extraordinary resolution, and surprise gave way to some
displeasure, when she found Ellen had really none to give. Her only
entreaty was that she might not be desired to go out till the next year.

"But why, my dear Ellen? You must have some reason for this intended
seclusion. Last year I fancied you wished much to accompany us, and I
ever regretted your delicate health prevented it. What has made you
change your mind so completely? Have you any distaste for the society in
which I mingle?"

Falteringly, and almost inaudibly, Ellen answered, "None."

"Is it a religious motive? Do your principles revolt from the amusements
which are now before you? Tell me candidly, Ellen. You know nothing
displeases me so much as mystery? I can forgive everything else, for
then I know our relative positions, and am satisfied you are not going
far wrong; but when every reason is studiously concealed, I cannot guess
the truth, and I must fancy it is, at least, a mistaken notion blinding
your better judgment. I did not expect a second mystery from you,

Mrs. Hamilton's expressive voice clearly denoted she was displeased, and
her niece, after two or three ineffectual efforts to prevent it, finally
burst into tears.

"I do not wish to be harsh with you, or accuse you unjustly," continued
her aunt, softened at the unaffected grief she beheld, "but if your
reason be a good one, why do you so carefully conceal it? You have been
lately so very open with me, and appeared to regard me so truly as your
friend, that your present conduct is to me not only a riddle, but a
painful reflection. Is it because your conscience forbids? Perhaps in
your solitary moments you have fancied that worldly amusements, even in
the moderate way in which we regard them, unfits us for more serious
considerations, and you fear perhaps to confess that such is your
reason, because it will seem a reproach to me. If such really be your
motive, do not fear to confess it, my dear girl; I should be the very
last to urge you to do anything that is against your idea of what is
right. To prove the fallacy of such reasoning, to show you that you may
be truly religions without eccentricity, I certainly should endeavour to
do, but I would not force you to go out with me till my arguments had
convinced you. I fancy, by your blushing cheek, that I have really
guessed the cause of your extraordinary resolution, and sorry as I shall
be if I have, yet any reason, however mistaken, is better than a
continued mystery."

"Indeed, indeed, I am not so good as you believe me," replied Ellen,
with much emotion. "It is not the religious motive you imagine that
urges me to act contrary to your wishes. Did you know my reason, I am
sure you would not blame me; but do not, pray do not command me to tell
you. I must obey, if you do, and then"--

"And then, if I approve of your reason, as you say I shall, what is it
that you fear? Why, if your conscience does not reproach you, do you
still hide it from me?"

Ellen was painfully silent. Mrs. Hamilton continued, in a tone of marked
displeasure, "I fear I am to find myself again deceived in you, Ellen,
though in what manner as yet I know not. I will not do such extreme
violence to your inclinations as to command you to yield to my wishes.
If you desire so much to remain at home, do so; but I cannot engage to
make any excuse for you. Neither failing health nor being too young, can
I now bring forward; I must answer all inquiries for you with the truth,
that your own wishes, which I could not by persuasion overcome, alone
keep you at, home. My conscience will still be clear from the
reproaches so plentifully showered on me by the world last season, that
I feared to bring forward my orphan niece with my daughters, lest her
charms should rival theirs."

"Did the ill-natured and ignorant dare to say such a thing of you?"
demanded Ellen, startled at this remark.

"They knew not the cause of your never appearing in public, and
therefore, as appearances were against me, scrupled not to condemn."

"And do you heed them? Do these remarks affect you?" exclaimed Ellen,

"No, Ellen. I have done my duty; I will still do it, undisturbed by such
idle calumnies, even should they now be believed by those whose opinions
I value, who, from your seclusion, may imagine they have good reason. In
my conduct towards you the last two years I have nothing to reproach

"The last two years. Oh, never, never, from the first moment I was under
your care, never can your conduct to me have given you cause for
self-reproach, dearest aunt. Oh, do not say that the gratification of my
wishes will give rise to a suspicion so unjust, so unfounded," entreated
Ellen, seizing with impetuosity the hand of her aunt.

"In all probability it will; but do not speak in this strain now, Ellen,
it accords not well with the mystery of your words," and Mrs. Hamilton
coldly withdrew her hand. There was a moment's silence, for Ellen had
turned away, pained to her heart's core, and soon after she quitted the
room to seek her own, where, throwing herself on a low seat by the side
of her couch, she gave way to an unrestrained and violent flow of tears.
Mrs. Hamilton little knew the internal struggle her niece was enduring,
the cause of her seclusion; that the term of her self-condemned
probation was not fulfilled, that the long, tedious task was not
accomplished; that it was for this purpose she so earnestly desired that
her time might not be occupied by amusement, till her task was done, the
errors of her earlier years atoned. Mrs. Hamilton had seldom felt more
thoroughly displeased and hurt with her niece than at the present
moment. Gentle, and invulnerable as she ever seemed to irritation, open
as the day herself, she had ever endeavoured to frame her children's
characters in the like manner; ingenuousness always obtained
forgiveness, whatever might have been the mistake or fault. Ellen had
always been a subject of anxiety and watchfulness; but the last two
years her reserve had so entirely given place to candour, that
solicitude had much decreased, till recalled by the resolution we have
recorded. Had Ellen alleged any reason whatever, all would have been
well; Mrs. Hamilton would not have thought on the subject so seriously.
A mystery in her conduct had once before been so productive of anguish,
that Mrs. Hamilton could not think with her usual calmness and temper on
the circumstance.

It was so long before Ellen regained her composure that traces of tears
were visible even when she joined the family at dinner, and were
remarked by her uncle, who jestingly demanded what could occasion signs
of grief at such an important era in her life. Vainly Ellen hoped her
aunt would spare her the pain of answering by even expressing her
displeasure at her resolution, but she waited in vain, and she was
compelled to own that the era of her life, to which her uncle so
playfully referred, was postponed by her own earnest desire till the
next season.

Mr. Hamilton put down his knife and fork in unfeigned astonishment.
"Why, what is the meaning of this sudden change?" he exclaimed. "You
were not wont to be capricious, Ellen. Will your aunt explain this
marvellous mystery?"

"I am sorry I cannot," Mrs. Hamilton replied, in a tone that plainly
betrayed to the quick ears of her husband that she was more than usually
disturbed. "I am not in Ellen's confidence; her resolution is as
extraordinary to me as to you, for she has given me no reason." Mr.
Hamilton said no more, but he looked vexed, and Ellen did not feel more
comfortable. He detained her as she was about to leave the room, and
briefly demanded in what manner she intended to employ the many hours,
which now that Miss Harcourt was away she would have to herself. A
crimson flush mounted to Ellen's temples as she spoke, a flush that,
combined with the hesitating tone in which she answered, "to read and
work," might well justify the sternness of tone and manner with which
her uncle replied.

"Ellen, had you never deceived us, I might trust you, spite of that
flushed cheek and hesitating tone; as it is, your conduct the last two
years urges me to do so, notwithstanding appearances, and all I say is,
beware how you deceive me a second time."

Ellen's cheek lost its colour, and became for the space of a minute pale
as death, so much so, that Mrs. Hamilton regretted her husband should
have spoken so severely. Rallying her energies, Ellen replied, in a
steady but very low voice--

"My conduct, uncle, during my aunt's and your absence from home, has
been and shall ever be open to the inspection of all your household. I
am too well aware that I am undeserving of your confidence, but I appeal
to Ellis, on whose fidelity I know you rely, to prove to you in this
case you suspect me unjustly." The last word was audible, but that was
all, and, deeply pained, Ellen retired to her own room, which she did
not quit, even to see her favourite cousin decked for the ball. Emmeline
sought her, however, and tried by kisses to recall the truant rose, the
banished smile, but Mrs. Hamilton did not come to wish her good night,
and Ellen's heart was heavy.

Some few days passed, and Mrs. Hamilton accepted three several
invitations without again expressing her wishes, but though the subject
was not resumed, equal perplexity existed in the minds of both aunt and
niece. Ellen did not accuse Mrs. Hamilton of unkindness, but she could
not fail to perceive that she no longer retained her confidence, and
that knowledge painfully distressed the orphan's easily excited
feelings. Another circumstance gave additional pain; her strange and
apparently capricious behaviour had been casually mentioned to Herbert,
and he, aware that his advice was always acceptable to Ellen, ventured
to remonstrate with her, and playfully to reason her out of what he
termed her extraordinary fancy for seclusion. Some indefinable sensation
ever prevented Ellen from speaking or writing to Herbert as she would
have done to any other member of the family, but she answered him,
acknowledging she deserved his hinted reproach, but owning that she
could not change her conduct, even in compliance with his request;
nevertheless, it grieved her much to know that he, whose approbation
she unconsciously but ardently wished to gain, should believe her the
capricious, unaccountable being it was evident he did: still she
persevered. These, and whatever more she might have to endure, were but
petty trials, to which her secretly chastened mind might bend but should
not weakly bow. She knew, if her aunt were conscious of her attention,
much as perhaps she might approve of the motive, she would deem it a
needless sacrifice, and probably prohibit its continuance; or, if she
permitted and encouraged it, the merit of her action would no longer
exist, nor could she indeed, while in the enjoyment of praise, have
finished a task, commenced and carried on purely for the sake of duty,
and as an atonement for the past, by the sacrifice of inclination, make
peace with the gracious God she had offended. Petty trials were welcome
then, for if she met them with a Christian temper, a Christian spirit,
she might hope that, whatever she might endure, she was progressing in
His paths, "whose ways are pleasantness, and whose paths are peace;"
could she but remove the lingering displeasure and distrust of her aunt
and uncle, she would be quite happy.

It so happened that Emmeline's next engagement was to the Opera, which
was always Ellen's greatest conquest of inclination. She had amused
herself by superintending her cousin's dressing, and a sigh so audibly
escaped, that Emmeline instantly exclaimed--

"Ellen, you know you would like to go with us. In the name of all that
is incomprehensible, why do you stay at home?"

"Because, much as I own I should like to go with you, I like better to
stay at home."

"You really are the spirit of contradiction, Ellen. What did you sigh

"Not for the Opera, Emmeline."

"Then why?"

"Because I cannot bear to feel my aunt has lost all her confidence in

"You are marvellously silly, Ellen; mamma is just the same to you as
usual, I have observed no difference."

"Dear Emmeline, coldness is not _seen_, it is _felt_, and as you have
been so happy as never to have felt it, you cannot understand what I

"Nor do I ever wish to feel it. But do not look so sorrowful, dear
Ellen; mamma's coldness is an awful thing to encounter, I own."

"If you have never felt it, how can you judge?" said a playful voice
beside them, for Emmeline had been too deeply engrossed in arranging and
disarranging a wreath of roses in her hair, and Ellen too much engaged
in her own thoughts, to notice the entrance of Mrs. Hamilton.

"Is it possible you are not yet ready, Emmeline? what have you been

"Teasing Ellen, mamma; besides Fanny was engaged, and I could not please

"Or rather you were disinclined for exertion. I have been watching you
the last few moments, and you have played with that pretty wreath till
it is nearly spoiled."

"I plead guilty, dear mamma, but let Fanny come, and I will be ready in
a second," answered Emmeline, looking archly and caressingly in her
mother's face. Mrs. Hamilton smiled, and turned as if to speak to her
niece, but Ellen was gone. She was sitting in her own room a few minutes
afterwards, endeavouring to collect her thoughts sufficiently to
understand the book of the new opera which her cousin had lent her, when
she was interrupted by a hand gently placed upon the leaves.

"So coldness is felt, not seen, is it, my dear Ellen? well, then, let
that kiss banish it for ever," exclaimed Mrs. Hamilton, encircling the
delicate form of her niece with her arm. "I have been more distant and
unkind perhaps than was necessary, but your mysterious resolution
irritated me beyond forbearance, and I have been very unjust and very
cruel, have I not? will you forgive me?"

Ellen looked up in her face, and, unable to control her feelings, threw
her arms around her and burst into tears.

"Nay, dearest, do not let me leave you in tears. I am satisfied you have
some good reason for your conduct, though my usual penetration is
entirely at fault. Will you quite content me by looking steadily in my
face, and assuring me that your conscience never reproaches your
conduct. I shall not have one lingering doubt then."

Ellen smiled through her tears, as she tried to obey, but her lip so
quivered as she answered, that Mrs. Hamilton laughingly added, "That
would never do in a court of justice, my silly little girl, no one would
pronounce you innocent if thus tearfully affirmed; but as you generally
compel me to regret severity, when I do venture to use it, I must be
content to let you follow your own inclinations this year at least. Next
season, I give you no such licences, _nolens volens_, as Percy would
say, I must take you out with me, you shall not hide yourself in
solitude; but I do not fancy your resolution will hold good, even the
remainder of this season," she added, smilingly.

"Do not, pray do not try to turn me from it, my dear, kind aunt," said
Ellen, earnestly; "I do not deserve this indulgence from you, for I know
how much you dislike concealment, but indeed, indeed, you shall never
regret your kindness. I do not, I will not abuse it, it is only because,
because--" She hesitated.

"Do not excite my curiosity too painfully, Ellen, in return for my
indulgence," said Mrs. Hamilton, sportively.

"No, dear aunt, I only wish to finish a task I have set myself, and my
various avocations during the day prevent my having any time, unless I
take it from such amusements," said Ellen, blushing as she spoke;
"indeed, that is my real and only reason."

Mrs. Hamilton fixed an anxious glance upon her, but though she really
felt satisfied at this avowal, the actual truth never entered her mind.

"You have quite satisfied me, my dear girl! I will not ask more, and you
may stay at home as often as you please. Your uncle and I have both been
very unjust and very severe upon our little Ellen, but you have quite
disarmed us; so you shall neither feel nor fancy my coldness any more.
There is Emmeline calling as loudly for me as if I were after my time.
Good night, love. God bless you! do not sit up too late, and be as happy
as you can."

"I am quite happy now," exclaimed Ellen, returning, with delighted
eagerness, Mrs. Hamilton's fond embrace, and she was happy. For a moment
she felt lonely, as the door closed on her aunt's retreating form, but
as she roused herself to seek her work, that feeling fled. When the
nature of her work was sufficiently simple to require but little
thought, Ellen was accustomed to improve herself by committing to memory
many parts of the Bible suited for prayer, confession, or praise, so
that her thoughts might riot wander during those solitary hours in the
paths of folly or of sin, but once centred on serious things, her mind
might thence become strengthened and her judgment ripened.

These lonely hours did much towards the formation of the orphan's
character. Accustomed thus to commune with her Creator, to gather
strength in the solitude of her chamber, she was enabled, when her trial
came, to meet it with a spirit most acceptable to Him who had ordained


Lord Malvern's family and Mr. Hamilton's were still in town, though the
younger members of each were longing for the fresh air of the country.

One afternoon, hot and dusty from rapid riding, the young Earl St. Eval
hastily, and somewhat discomposedly, entered his sister Lady Gertrude's
private room.

"Thank heaven, you are alone!" was his exclamation, as he entered; but
throwing himself moodily on a couch, he did not seem inclined to say

"What is the matter, dear Eugene? Something has disturbed you," said
Lady Gertrude, soothingly, and in a tone tending rather to allay his
irritation than express her own desire to know what had happened.

"Something--yes, Gertrude, enough to bid me forswear England again, and
bury myself in a desert, where a sigh from your sex could never reach me

"Not even mine, Eugene?" exclaimed his sister, laying down her work, and
seating herself on a stool at his feet, while she looked up in his
excited features with an expression of fondness on her placid
countenance. "Would you indeed forbid my company, if I implored to share
your solitude?"

"My sister, my own kind sister, would I, could I deprive myself of the
blessing, the comfort your presence ever brings?" replied St. Eval,
earnestly. "No, dearest Gertrude, I could not refuse you, whatever you
might ask."

"Then tell me now what it is that has disturbed you thus. With what new
fancy are you tormenting yourself?"

"Nay, this is no fancy, Gertrude. You are, you have been wrong from the
first, and I am too painfully right Caroline does not and never will
love me."

Lady Gertrude started.

"Have you been again rejected?" she demanded, a dark flush of indignant
pride suffusing her cheek.

Lord St. Eval mournfully smiled.

"You are as summary in your conclusions as you say I am sometimes. No,
Gertrude, I have not; I feel as if I could not undergo the torture I
once experienced in saying those words which I hoped would seal my

"Nay, then, I must say them for you," said Lady Gertrude, smiling. "I
have watched Caroline narrowly, and I feel so confident she loves you,
that I would, without the slightest doubt or fear, consign your
happiness, precious as it is to me, to her disposal."

"Forbear, Gertrude, for pity!" exclaimed Lord St. Eval, starting up and
pacing the room. "You saw not what I saw last night, nor heard the cold,
malicious words warning me against her; that even when she had accepted,
she was false; or, if she were not false, that she still loved another.
I saw it in her varying cheek, her confused manner; I heard it in her
hurried accents, and this morning has confirmed all--all. Gertrude, I
ever told you, my lot was not happiness; that as the fate of some men is
all bright, so that of others is all gloom, and such is mine."

"Eugene, how often must I entreat you not to speak thus. Man's happiness
or misery, in a great measure, depends upon himself. You have often said
that when with me, you reason more calmly than when you think alone;
only tell me coherently what has chanced, and all may not be so gloomy
as you believe."

St. Eval suffered himself to be persuaded, and seating himself beside
his sister, he complied with her request.

The fact was simply this. He had returned to England, at the entreaty of
his sister, determined to discover if indeed there existed any hope of
his at length obtaining Caroline's affections. Lady Gertrude's letter to
him purposely portrayed the many amiable qualities existing in
Caroline's character, and the general tenour of her words had led him to
resolve that if he could indeed make so favourable an impression on her
heart as to teach her to forget the past, he too would banish pride, and
secure his happiness, and he hoped hers, by a second offer of his hand.
Her conduct, guarded as it was, had unconsciously strengthened his
hopes, and the last few weeks he had relaxed so much in his reserve, as
to excite in the mind of Caroline the hope, almost the certainty, that
he no longer despised her, and created for himself many truly delightful
hours. It so happened that, on the evening to which he referred,
Caroline had gone to a large party, under the protection of the Countess
of Elmore, who at the entreaty of the lady of the house, had obtained
the permission of Mrs. Hamilton to introduce her. The young Earl had
devoted himself to her the greater part of the evening, to the
satisfaction of both, when his pleasure was suddenly and painfully
alloyed by her visible confusion at the unexpected entrance, and still
more unexpected salutation, of Lord Alphingham. Caroline had so seldom
met the Viscount during the season, that she was not yet enabled to
conquer her agitation whenever she beheld him. She ever dreaded his
addressing her; ever felt that somewhat lurked in his insinuating voice,
that would in the end lead to evil; besides which, her abhorrence
towards him whenever Percy's tale flashed across her mind, which it
never failed to do when he appeared, always prevented her retaining her
calmness undisturbed. Lord St. Eval had left England with the impression
that Alphingham was his favoured rival, and his imagination instantly
attributed Caroline's emotion at his entrance into a preference for the
Viscount. His earnest manner suddenly became chilled, his eloquence
checked. Intuitively Caroline penetrated his suspicions; the wish to
prove they were mistaken and unjust increased her confusion, and instead
of lessening, confirmed them. St. Eval said little more to her during
the evening; but he watched her. He saw Lord Alphingham whisperingly
address her. She appeared to become more painfully confused, and St.
Eval could scarcely restrain himself from hurrying from her sight for
ever; but he did restrain himself, only to be more tortured.

The Viscount now believed the hour of his vengeance was at hand, when,
without the slightest exertion, he might disturb not only St. Eval's
peace, but that of Caroline.

If St. Eval had but heard the few words he said to her, jealousy would
have been instantly banished, but for that he was not sufficiently near;
he could only mark the earnest and insinuating manner which the Viscount
knew so well how to assume, and notice her confusion, and the shade of
melancholy expressed on her features, which was in fact occasioned by
Lord St. Eval's sudden desertion, and her annoyance at the cause. His
quick imagination attributed all to the effect of Lord Alphingham's
tender words. The Viscount was well known, to him, and near the end of
the evening approached and remained in conversation by his side, spite
of the haughty reserve maintained by the young Earl, which said so
plainly, "your presence is unwelcome," that it would speedily have
dismissed any one less determined; but Lord Alphingham spoke admiringly
and enthusiastically of Caroline. Lord St. Eval listened, as if
fascinated by the very torture he endured. They were quite alone, and
after a few such observations, the Viscount lowered his voice to a
confidential tone, and said, triumphantly--

"Will you envy me, St. Eval, if I confess that I, more than any other
man, am privileged to speak in Miss Hamilton's praise, having once had
the honour of being her accepted lover, and had not cruel parents
interfered, might now have claimed that lovely creature as my own? but
still I do not despair, for the affections of a being so superior once
given to me, as they have been, I am convinced they will never be
another's. I am treating you as a friend, St. Eval, you will not betray

"You may trust me, sir," replied the young Earl, coldly. "Your
confidence has been given unasked, but you need not fear its betrayal."

"Thank you, my kind friend;" and the wily villain continued his
deceiving tale, with an eloquence we will not trouble ourselves to
repeat. It is enough to know its effect on St. Eval was to turn him from
the room, his sensitive feelings wrought almost to madness by malignant
bitterness. Lord Alphingham looked after him, and then turned his glance
on Caroline, and an acute physiognomist might easily have read his
inward thoughts--"My vengeance is complete."

Alphingham had more than once mentioned the name of the Duchess of
Rothbury; but in such a manner, that though it sounded well enough in
his tale, yet when afterwards recalled by the young Earl, he could not
understand in what position she stood towards them. Lord Alphingham knew
well her Grace's character; he wished St. Eval to seek her, for he felt
assured what she would say would confirm his tale, and render the
barrier between him and Caroline more impassable. His plan succeeded
admirably: St. Eval gallopped off to Airslie early the next morning. The
Duchess welcomed him with the greatest cordiality, for he was a
favourite; but the moment he spoke of Caroline her manner changed. She
became as reserved as she had previously been warm; and when the young
Earl frankly asked her if the refusal of her parents had been the only
bar to her union with the Viscount, she referred him to Mr. and Mrs.
Hamilton. That she was aware of something to Caroline's disadvantage
appeared very evident, and that she was not the favourite she had been
last year equally so. St. Eval left her more disturbed than ever, and it
was on returning from his long yet hurried ride he had sought his sister
in the mood we have described.

Lady Gertrude listened with earnest attention. The tale startled her,
but she disliked the very sight of Lord Alphingham; she believed him to
be a bad, designing man. She felt convinced Caroline did love her
brother, much as appearances were against her; and both these feelings
urged her to sift the whole matter carefully, and not permit the
happiness of two individuals to be sacrificed to what might be but the
idle invention or exaggerations of a bad man. Her ready mind instantly
formed its plan, which calmly but earnestly she imparted to her brother,
and implored his consent to act upon it. Startled and disturbed, St.
Eval at first peremptorily refused; but his sisters's eloquence at
length succeeded.

Early in the morning of the succeeding day Caroline Hamilton received
the following brief note:

"Will you, my dear Caroline, receive me half an hour this afternoon? I
have something important to say; I have vanity enough to believe as it
concerns me it will interest you. We shall be more alone at your house
than mine, or I might ask you to come to me.

"Yours affectionately,


Completely at a loss to understand the meaning of this little note,
Caroline merely wrote a line to say she should be quite at Lady
Gertrude's service at the appointed time; and so deeply was she
engrossed in the sad tenour of her own thoughts, that all curiosity as
to this important communication was dismissed.

Three o'clock came and so did Lady Gertrude, whose first exclamation was
to notice Caroline's unusual paleness.

"Do not heed my looks, dear Gertrude, I am perfectly well; and now that
you are before me, overwhelmed with curiosity as to your intelligence,"
said Caroline, whose heavy eyes belied her assurance that she was quite

"Dearest Caroline," said Lady Gertrude, in a tone of feeling, "I am so
interested in your welfare, that I cannot bear to see the change so
evident in you; something has disturbed you. Show me you consider me
your friend, and tell me what it is."

"Not to you, oh, not to you; I cannot, I dare not!" burst involuntarily
from the lips of the poor girl, in a tone of such deep distress, that
Lady Gertrude felt pained. "Gertrude, do not ask me; I own I am unhappy,
very, very unhappy, but I deserve to be so. Oh, I would give worlds that
I might speak it, and to you; but I cannot--will not! But do not refuse
me the confidence you offered," she added, again endeavouring to smile,
"I can sympathise in your happiness, though I refuse yours in my

"I am not quite sure whether I have sorrow or joy to impart," said Lady
Gertrude, still feelingly; for she guessed why Caroline believed she
dare not confide in her, and she hailed it as proof that she was right
in her surmise, that her brother's honourable love would not be again

"Eugene seems bent on again quitting England, and I fear if he do, he
will not return home again. On one little circumstance depends his final
determination; my persuasions to the contrary have entirely failed."

The cheek of her companion blanched even paler than before, two or three
large tears gathered in her eyes, then slowly fell, one by one, upon her
tightly-clasped hands.

"And if you have failed, who will succeed?" she asked, with a strong

"The chosen one, whose power over the heart of St. Eval is even greater
than mine," said Lady Gertrude, steadily. "Ah, Caroline, when a man has
learned to love, the affection of a sister is of little weight."

"He does love, then," thought Caroline, and her heart swelled even to
bursting, and he goes to seek her. "And will not the being Lord St. Eval
has honoured with his love second your efforts? if she be in England,
can she wish him to quit it?" she said aloud, in answer to her friend.

"If she love him, she will not," said Lady Gertrude; "but St. Eval fears
to ask the question that decides his fate. Strange and wayward as he is,
he would rather create certain misery for himself, than undergo the
torture of being _again refused_."

For a few minutes Caroline answered not; then, with a sudden effort,
rallying her energies, she exclaimed, as if in jest--

"Why, then, does he not make you his messenger; the affection you bear
for him would endow you with an eloquence, I doubt much whether his own
would surpass."

She would have spoken more in the same strain, but the effort failed;
and turning away from Lady Gertrude's penetrating glance, which she felt
was fixed upon her, though she could not meet it, she burst into tears.

More than ever convinced of the truth of her suspicions, Lady Gertrude's
noble mind found it impossible to continue this mode of discovery any
longer. She saw that Caroline imagined not she was the being alluded to;
that not even the phrase "again refused" had startled her into
consciousness, and she felt it was unkind to distress her more.

"I knew it was false," she exclaimed, as the Viscount's tale flashed
across her mind; then, checking herself, she took Caroline's cold and
half-reluctant hand, and added, in a voice of extreme feeling,
"Caroline, dearest Caroline, forgive my having penetrated your secret;
fear me not, dear girl, I honour too much the feeling which dictates
your conduct. You have learned to love St. Eval; you have repented the
wilful and capricious treatment he once received from you. Deny it not,
nay, do not shrink from me, and think, because I appear so calm, I
cannot feel for those who are dear to me, and even sympathise in their
love. I do not, I will not condemn the past; I did once, I own, but
since I have known you, I have forgiven the mistaken wilfulness of a
misguided girl. You love him--confess that I am right, dearest."

Caroline's face was concealed within her hand, and almost agonized was
its expression as she looked up.

"Gertrude," she said, in a low, suffocated voice, "is it well, is it
kind in you thus to speak, to lead me to avow a love for one who, your
own words inform me, will soon be the husband of another?"

"I said not of another, my dear girl; forgive me this stratagem to
penetrate your well-preserved secret. My brother's happiness is so dear
to me, I could not trust it to one of whose affection I was not certain.
I am not aware I said he would soon be the husband of another; since, if
he be again refused, that he never will be. Simply, then, for I have
been quite tormenting enough, Eugene has striven long with himself to
conquer his love, to be happy as your friend; associating with you as he
does with Emmeline, but he cannot. He still loves you, Caroline, as
devotedly, as faithfully--perhaps more so than when he first offered you
his hand; he dares not renew that offer himself, for he feels a second
refusal from your lips would wound him too deeply. Your voice may chain
him to England, an altered and a happier man, or send him from its
shores a misanthrope and wretched: it is for you to decide, Caroline,
dearest. Must I plead with that eloquence, which you said would surpass
even his own, or will the pleadings of your own kind heart suffice?"

She paused, in evident emotion, for with a faint cry Caroline had thrown
herself on her neck, and buried her cheek upon her shoulder. Every limb
trembled with agitation; the ecstatic delight of that one moment--doubt
was, indeed, at an end. He loved her, and in spite of her faults he
would cherish her with tenderness; he had chosen her as his wife--chosen
her, though she had rejected, injured him, in preference to the very
many she felt so much more worthy than herself; but unalloyed happiness
was hers only for a few fleeting minutes, he knew not the extent of her
imprudence--how strangely and deeply she had been fascinated by the arts
of Lord Alphingham. Could he love, respect her as the partner of his
life, did he know that? and for a moment painfully did she long to
conceal it from him, to prevent his ever knowing it; but no, her innate
nobility and ingenuousness of character would not be thus trampled on.
She wept, and Lady Gertrude was startled, for those bitter tears were
not the signs of joy.

"Do not condemn my weakness, dearest Gertrude," she said at length,
struggling for composure. "You do not know why I weep; you cannot guess
the cause of tears at such a moment. Yes, you are right; I do love your
brother with an affection equal to his own, but I thought it would never
pass my lips; for wilfully, blindly I had rejected the affection of his
good and noble heart; I had intentionally caused him pain, banished him
from his country and his friends, and my punishment was just. I thought
he would forget one so utterly unworthy, and the thought was agony. But,
oh, Gertrude, I shall never regain his love: when he knows all, he will
cease to trust me; his esteem I have lost for ever! Gertrude, bear with
me; you cannot know the wretchedness it is to feel he knows not all my
folly. The girl who could wilfully cast aside duty and obedience to a
parent, listen to forbidden vows, weakly place her honour in the power
of one against whom she had been warned--oh, Gertrude, Gertrude, when
St. Eval learns this tale, he will spurn me from his heart! and yet I
will not deceive him, he shall know all, and be free to act as he
will--his proposals shall be no tie."

The flush of firm yet painful resolution dyed her cheek as she spoke,
and checked her tears. Alarmed as she was by the incoherence yet
connection of her words when attached to Lord Alphingham's hints, which
still lingered on her mind, yet the high-minded Lady Gertrude felt as if
Caroline's honourable determination had struck a new chord of sympathy
within her heart. Integrity itself was hers, and truth in others was
ever to her their most attractive quality.

"St. Eval's doubts and fears have been already painfully aroused," she
said, gently; "an open explanation from you is more likely to make him
happy than produce the effect you so much, though so naturally, dread:
fear not to impart it. In the relation you now stand to each other, the
avowal of past errors will increase rather than lessen affection, by the
integrity it will display; but leave it till years have passed, and if,
instead of being known now, it is then discovered, then, indeed, might
you fear, with some show of justice, the loss of his esteem. Such will
not be now; but tell him yourself, dear Caroline, the truth or falsehood
of the scandalous tale he heard a night or two ago."

"What did he hear? if you know, for pity's sake, do not conceal it from
me, dearest Gertrude!" entreated Caroline, almost gasping for breath;
and Lady Gertrude, without hesitation or abbreviation, related the whole
tale her brother had imparted to her, dwelling on the suffering he
endured, as he fancied Caroline's conduct confirmed the words he heard.

"Then is it, indeed, time for me to speak, though my tale be one of
shame," she exclaimed, as Lady Gertrude paused, and indignation restored
her usual energy. "Never were attentions so revolting to me as were
those of Lord Alphingham that night. He knew he had no right to address
me, and therefore did he ever refrain when mamma was present. Gertrude,
solemnly, sacredly, I protest he has no hold on my affections--he dare
not say he has--nor ever again venture to demand my hand; it has been
irrevocably refused. Not only would my own will prevent my ever becoming
his, but I have--" she paused a moment, for Percy's fatal secret was on
the point of escaping from her lips, but checking herself, she added, "I
am not at liberty to say why, but an inseparable barrier is placed
between us. Listen to me, Gertrude, you will condemn me, be it so; but I
implore, I beseech you to believe me true." Then, without further
hesitation, Caroline briefly yet circumstantially related all those
events in her life with which our readers are so well acquainted. She
did not suppress one point, or endeavour in the least to excuse herself,
and Lady Gertrude, as she listened to that unvarnished tale of youthful
error, felt her heart glow more warmly towards her companion, and her
eye glisten in sympathy for the pain she felt Caroline was inflicting on
herself. Lady Gertrude could feel for others; twice had her carriage
been announced, but she heeded not the summons; a third came just as
Caroline had ceased to speak, and silently she rose to depart. She met
the imploring look of her young friend, and folding her to her heart,
she said, in a low and gentle voice--

"Ask not me, my dearest girl; St. Eval shall come and speak for
himself." She kissed her affectionately, and was gone.

Caroline seated herself on a low couch, and closing her eyes on every
outward object, she gave herself up to thought. Might she indeed be
happy--were the errors of her former years so forgiven, that she would
indeed be blessed with the husband of her choice? Had St. Eval so
conquered pride as again to seek her love--would the blessing of her
parents now sanctify her marriage? it could not be, it was too much
bliss--happiness of which she was utterly unworthy. Time rolled by
unheeded in these meditations; she was quite unconscious that nearly
half an hour had elapsed since Lady Gertrude had left her; scarcely did
it appear five minutes, and yet it must have been more, for it was the
voice of St. Eval himself that roused her, that addressed her as his own
bride. St. Eval himself, who clasped her impetuously to his beating
heart, imprinted one long, lingering kiss upon her cheek and murmured
blessings on her head. He had waited for the return of his sister to the
carriage, in a state of impatience little to be envied, flung himself in
after her, and in a very brief space had heard and heard again every
particular of her interview with Caroline. His doubts wore satisfied,
not a lingering fear remained.

"Gertrude told me, you said not to her the magic word that will seal my
happiness, though she wrung from you that precious secret of your love,"
said the young Lord, after many very fond words had been exchanged
between them, and nearly an hour had passed away in that unrestrained
confidence; "nor have I heard it pass your lips. You have told me that
you love me, Caroline; will you not promise that but a very short time
shall pass, ere you will indeed be mine; that you will not sentence me
to a long probation ere that happy day is fixed?"

"It is not in my power to answer you, St. Eval," and though her tone was
sportive, her words startled him. "I cannot even promise to be yours; my
fate is not in my own hands."

"Caroline!" exclaimed the alarmed young man, "what can you mean?"

"Simply, that I have vowed solemnly and sacredly never to many without
the consent and blessing of my parents. I have given you all I can, to
them I refer you for the rest."

"Then I am satisfied," replied St. Eval, the flush of joyous excitement
staining his cheek, and rendering his expressive countenance more than
usually handsome, by the animation it produced.

Mrs. Hamilton, with Emmeline and Ellen, had returned from their ride
rather later than usual, for they had gone to see a friend some few
miles out of town, and finding it near the hour of dinner, they had
dispersed to their dressing-rooms instead of entering the drawing-room
as usual. On inquiring for Caroline, if she had been out with Lady
Gertrude, or was still at home, she heard, to her extreme astonishment,
that Miss Hamilton had not gone out, but that Lord St. Eval had been
with her above an hour, nor had she left him to obey the summons of the
dressing-bell, as usual. A throb of pleasure shot through the heart of
Mrs. Hamilton, she scarcely knew wherefore, for it was no uncommon thing
for Lord St. Eval to spend an hour at her house, but it was that he
should thus have sought the society of Caroline alone.

"Had either of her sons been with him?" she asked, and the answer was in
the negative.

Martyn silently concluded her task, for she saw deep thought was on her
lady's brow, which she was too respectful to disturb; an earnest thought
it was, it might have been that silent prayer had mingled with it. Still
was that wish uppermost in Mrs. Hamilton's mind, that she might one day
see her Caroline the happy wife of Lord St. Eval; but when she entered
the drawing-room, words were not needed to explain the scene before her.
Mr. Hamilton had drawn his daughter to him, and was pressing the young
Earl's hand in his with a grasp that spoke volumes.

"St. Eval, you have been too long the son of my affections, for one
instant to doubt my consent," Mrs. Hamilton heard her husband say, as
she entered; "it is yours, freely, gladly. Speak not of fortune, I would
give my child to you, had you but yourself to offer. But I am but a
secondary personage in this business," he added, playfully; "there is
the enchantress who holds the fate of my Caroline more firmly than I do.
Away with you, St. Eval, plead your cause to her."

"Caroline, my own, does your happiness depend on my consent, or have you
done this merely for my sake?" murmured Mrs. Hamilton, as her child
clung in silence to her neck, and Lord St. Eval seized her hand and
pressed it to his lips, as if eloquent silence should tell his tale,
too, better than words. Mrs. Hamilton spoke in a voice so low, as to be
heard only by Caroline.

"Speak to me, love; tell me that St. Eval will be the husband of your
free, unbiased choice, and my fondest blessing shall be yours."
Caroline's answer was inaudible to all, save to the ear of maternal
affection, to her mother it was enough.

"Take her, St. Eval; my consent, my earnest wish to behold you united
has long been yours; may God in heaven bless you, my children, and make
you happy in each other!"

Solemnly she spoke; her earnestness was affecting, it struck to their
hearts; for a moment there was silence, which Mrs. Hamilton was the
first to break.

"Does my Caroline intend appearing at dinner in this costume?" she
asked, playfully, alluding to her daughter's morning dress. Startled and
blushing, Caroline, for the first time, perceived her mother was dressed
for dinner, and her father, determining to banish all appearance of
gravity, held up his watch, which pointed to some few minutes after the
usual dinner-hour. Glad to escape for a few minutes to the solitude of
her own room, Caroline hastily withdrew her hand from St. Eval's
detaining grasp, and smiling a brief farewell, brushed by Emmeline and
Ellen, who were that instant entering, without speaking indeed, but with
very evident marks of confusion, which Mr. Hamilton very quickly
explained to the extreme satisfaction of all parties.

Caroline was not long before she returned. Happiness had caused her eyes
to sparkle with a radiance her parents had not seen for many a long day;
and they felt as they gazed on her, now indeed was she worthy to be the
honoured wife of St. Eval, and their thoughts were raised in silent
unison to heaven for the blessing thus vouchsafed to them. And scarcely
could Mr. Hamilton restrain the emotion which swelled his bosom, as he
thought, had it not been for the untiring care, the bright example of
that mother, his child, instead of being a happy bride, might now have
been--he shuddered as he thought, and the inward words were checked, he
could not give them vent, they were hidden in the silent recesses of his
own breast; and did not that same thought dwell in the mind of his wife,
when she contrasted the present with the past? It did, but she looked
not on herself as the cause of her child's escape from wretchedness and
sin. Her efforts she knew would have been as naught, without the
blessing of Him whose aid she had ever sought; and if indeed the thought
of her had arrested Caroline on the brink of ruin, it was His work, and
Him alone she praised. She looked on the glowing countenance of her
daughter; she marked the modest gentleness of her demeanour, the
retiring dignity with which she checked the effusions of her own fond
affection, and received the attentions of her devoted lover, and she
felt sure those few moments of solitude had been passed in thanksgiving
and prayer to Him who had pardoned the errors of the past, and granted
such unlooked-for joy. And she guessed aright, for the mind of Caroline
had not been entirely engrossed by the bright and glowing visions which
anticipation in such a moment of our lives is apt to place before us.
Her thoughts during the last year had been secretly under the guidance
of the most rigid self-control, and thus permitted her to raise them
from the happiness of earth to blessedness yet more exalted. Oh! who can
say that religion is the heavy chain that fetters us to gloom and
everlasting sadness; that in chastening the pleasures of earth, it
offers no substantial good in return? True piety, open the heart by its
sweet, refreshing influence, causes us to enjoy every earthly blessing
with a zest the heart in which the love of God is not an inmate will
seek in vain to know. It is piety that strengthens, purifies affection.
Piety, that looks on happiness vouch us here, as harbingers of a state
where felicity will be eternal. Piety that, in lifting up the grateful
soul to God, heightens our joys, and renders that pure and lasting
which would otherwise be evanescent and fleeting. Piety, whose soft and
mildly-burning torch continues to enlighten life, long, long after the
lustre of worldly pleasures has passed away. It was this blessed
feeling, kindled in earliest infancy by the fostering hand of parental
love, which now characterised and composed every emotion of Caroline's
swelling bosom, which bade her feel that this indeed was happiness. With
blushing modesty she received the eagerly-offered congratulations of her
affectionate family; the delighted embrace which Percy in the enthusiasm
of his joy found himself compelled to give her.

"Now, indeed, may I hope the past will never again cross my mind to
torment me," he whispered to his sister, and wrung St. Eval's hand with
a violence that forced that young man laughingly to cry for mercy. There
had been a shade of unusual gloom shrouding the open countenance and
usually frank demeanour of Percy since his return from Oxford, for which
his parents and sisters could not account, but as he seemed to shrink
from all observation on the subject, they did not ask the cause; but
this unexpected happiness seemed to make him for a few following days as
usual the gayest, merriest member of his amiable family.

Often in these days of happiness did Caroline think on the qualities
which Lady Gertrude had once said should adorn the wife of her brother.
Faults he could pardon, if they were redeemed by affection, and
ingenuousness unsullied by the slightest artifice. Affection she well
knew she possessed; but she also knew that, to be as unreserved as would
form the happiness of her husband, she must effectually banish that
pride, which she knew still lurked within. Often would she converse on
these things when alone with her mother, and implore her advice as to
the best method of securing not only the love but the esteem of St.
Eval. "Gertrude was quite right in the estimate of her brother's
character," Mrs. Hamilton would at such times observe, her fond heart
fully repaid for past anxiety and disappointment by this confidence in
her child; "and so too are you, dearest, in your idea that not the
faintest sign of pride must mark your intercourse with him. Perhaps he
is more reserved than proud; indeed, in his case, I cannot call it
pride, but it is that kind of reserve which would jar most painfully did
it come in contact with anything resembling pride. Had you grown up such
as you were in childhood, your union with St. Eval, much as you might
think you loved each other, would not have been productive of lasting
happiness to either. Let him see dependence is not merely a profession
which your every action would contradict; from independence spring so
many evils, that I feel sure you will avoid it. It is, I regret to say,
a prevailing error in those circles wherein your rank will entitle you
to mingle; an error that must ever endanger conjugal happiness. When a
woman marries, the world, except as the arbiter of propriety, ought to
be forgotten; all her endeavours to please, to soothe, to cheer, must
still be exerted even more than before marriage, but exerted only for
her husband; not one little pleasing art, not one accomplishment should
be given up, but used as affection dictates, to enhance her value in the
eyes of him whose felicity it should be her principal aim to increase.
You will be placed in an exalted station in the opinion of the world, my
beloved child, a station of temptation, flattery, danger, more so than
has over yet been yours; but I do not tremble now as I did, too
forebodingly, when the world was first opened to your view. You have
learned to mistrust your own strength, to seek it where alone it can be
found, to examine your every action by the Word of God, and with these
feelings you are safe. My Caroline will not fail in duty to her husband
or herself."

"Nor to you, my mother, my devoted mother!" exclaimed Caroline, as she
fondly kissed her. "It is to you, next to my God, I owe this blessing;
and oh, if it be my lot to be a mother, may I be to my children, as far,
at least, as one so much inferior in piety and virtue can be, what you
have been to me. Oh, might I but resemble you, as my full heart has so
lately longed, St. Eval might be happy!"

At the earnest entreaty of St. Eval and Caroline, both families
consented that the ceremonial of their marriage should take place in the
same venerable church where the first childish prayers of Caroline had
ascended from a house of God, and the service be performed by the
revered and pious rector of Oakwood, the clergyman who, from her
earliest childhood, she had been taught to respect and love, as the
humble representative of Him whose truths he so ably taught. Caroline

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