Part 3 out of 6
will restore that calm tranquillity which he has enjoyed the last year,
but I must own I fear it. If this moody irritability continue, Lilla
will have much to bear, but she will do her duty, and that will bring
its own reward."
A faint and scarcely audible sigh escaped from Emmeline as she spoke.
Mrs. Cameron, without noticing, asked when she expected her brothers to
return home from London.
"Herbert takes orders next week, and they return together very soon
afterwards. He is, as you will believe, delighted at the near approach
of an event which has been his guiding star since his boyhood. I never
saw him looking so well or so happy, and Percy shares his joy, and we
shall have him near us, I am happy to say, for he will be the minister
of our own dear parish, which, by Mr. Howard's promotion, will be vacant
about the time he will require it. Mr. Howard says he thinks he should
have turned rebel, and refused the presentation of a valuable living,
with the title of archdeacon attached to his name, if any one but
Herbert were to succeed him here; but as he leaves his flock under his
care, he will not refuse the blessings offered him. He does not go very
far from us, if he had I should have been so very sorry, that even my
brother's succeeding him would not have satisfied me."
There was a short pause, which was broken by Emmeline saying--
"Speaking about Mr. Howard and Herbert has made me forget Percy, dear
fellow. You know how he has raved about the grand tour he is going to
make, all the curiosities he is to see and bring home for me, even to
the dome of St. Peter's or the crater of Vesuvius, if I wish to see
them. He has taken my provoking remarks in good part, and sets off with
Caroline and her husband in July. My sister's health has been so
delicate the last three months, that she is advised to go to Geneva. Her
little boy grows such a darling, I shall miss him almost as much as his
"Do you stay with them at Castle Terryn before they go?"
"I do not think I shall, for at present I seem to dislike the idea of
leaving home. They come to us, I believe, a few weeks hence, in order
that we may be all together, which we could not very well be at St.
"Has Lord St. Eval quite lost all anxiety on his brother's account? The
physicians said they could never have brought him through it, had it not
been for Mr. Myrvin's prudent and unceasing care."
"Yes; every letter from Castle Malvern confirms the report, all anxiety
has been over some weeks now; indeed, before the Marquis reached
Hanover, where he received from his son's own lips an affecting and
animated account of his own imprudence, and Mr. Myrvin's heroic as well
as prudent conduct."
"Was there an accident, then? I thought it was from the fever then
raging in the town."
"Lord Louis had determined, against his tutor's consent, to join a party
of very gay young men, who wished to leave Hanover for a time and make
an excursion to the sea-shore. Mr. Myrvin, who did not quite approve of
some of the young gentlemen who were to join the party, remonstrated,
but in vain. Lord Louis was obstinate, and Mr. Myrvin, finding all his
efforts fruitless, accompanied his pupil, very much to the annoyance of
the whole party, who determined to render his sojourn with them so
distasteful, that he would quickly withdraw himself. Lord Louis, led on
by evil companions, turned against his tutor, who, however, adhered to
his duty unshrinkingly. A sailing match was resolved on, and,
notwithstanding the predictions of Mr. Myrvin, that a violent storm was
coming on and likely to burst over them before half their day's sport
was completed, they set off, taunting him with being afraid of the
water. They declared there was no room for him in their boats, and
pushed off without him. He followed them closely, and fortunate was it
that he did so. The storm burst with fury; the little vessels were most
of them shattered to pieces, and many of the misguided and unfortunate
young men fell victims to their wilful folly. Some, who were good
swimmers, escaped, but Lord Louis had struck his head against a
projecting rock, and, stunned and senseless, must have sunk, had not Mr.
Myrvin been mercifully permitted to bear him to the shore in safety. He
was extremely ill, but in a few weeks recovered sufficiently to return
to Hanover, unconscious, as was Mr. Myrvin, of the virulent fever then
raging there. Already in delicate health, he was almost instantly
attacked by the disease, in its most alarming and contagious form; the
servants fled in terror from the house, only one, his own valet, an
Englishman, remained near him. But Mr. Myrvin never left him; day and
night he attended, soothed, and relieved him. His efforts were, happily,
rewarded: Lord Louis lived and his preceptor escaped all infection. The
Marquis and his son have both written of Mr. Myrvin in the most
gratifying terms; and the Marchioness told mamma she could never in any
way repay the debt of gratitude she owed him."
Mrs. Cameron was much interested in Emmeline's narrative, and asked if
they were not soon to return to England.
"They may have already arrived," replied Emmeline. "Florence wrote me a
fortnight ago she was counting the days till their return. I sent a
letter, apparently from her, this morning to Moorlands for Ellen, as I
am not quite sure whether she will return home this evening or not, and
perhaps that contains the intelligence. His mother and sisters will be
overjoyed to have him once more with them, after the dangers he has
"Has Mr. Myrvin any family?"
"Only his father, a truly good, kind, old man, the rector of
"And are you not desirous to see this admirable young man, this devoted
preceptor, my dear Emmeline?" said Mrs. Cameron, smiling. "Will he not
be an excellent hero of romance?"
Emmeline answered, that as she already knew him, she could not throw
around him the halo of imagination; she was content to admire his
character as it was, without decking him in other charms. Their further
conversation turned upon other and indifferent subjects till Mrs.
The death of Lady Helen and the misconduct of her son had cast such deep
gloom over Moorlands, that not only Emmeline, but both Mr. and Mrs.
Hamilton feared Grahame would never arouse himself from the moody apathy
into which he had fallen. He felt disgrace had fallen on his name, a
stain never to be erased; that all men would shun the father of one so
publicly dishonoured. The extent of Cecil's conduct was scarcely known
even to his father; but that he had used dishonest measures at the
gambling table to discharge enormous debts; that he had behaved
insolently to his superior officers; that it required great interest to
prevent a much harsher sentence than had been his punishment--these
facts were known all over England. The previously unsullied name of
Grahame was now synonymous with infamy; and it was even supposed Cecil
would never show his face in England again. Mr. Grahame shrunk in misery
from encountering the glance even of his friends; he felt as if he too
shared the disgrace of his son, he and his young, his beautiful Lilla;
she whom he had anticipated, with so much pleasure, introducing among
his friends, she was doomed to share with him the solitude, which he
declared was the only fit abode of ignominy; and even to her his manner
was wayward and uncertain--at times almost painfully fond, at others
equally stern and harsh. Lilla's character was changed; she struggled to
bear with him, unrepiningly, dutifully, conscious that the eye of her
God was upon her, however her father might appear insensible to her
Even the society of Mr. Howard and Mr. Hamilton was irksome; their
efforts to rouse and cheer him were unavailing, and they could only hope
time would achieve that for which friendship was inadequate.
Herbert's engagement with Mary Greville still remained untold, but he
looked forward to discovering his long-treasured secret, when he beheld
himself indeed an ordained minister of God; Percy perhaps was in his
confidence, but neither his sisters nor Ellen. Mary's letters were full
of comfort to him; such pure and beautiful affection breathed in every
line, that even the sadness which the few last unconsciously betrayed
did not alarm him. He accounted for it by her reluctance to quit her
beautiful retreat in the Swiss mountains for the confusion and heat of
Paris, where she now resided. A few months previously they had been
visited in their retreat by her father; scarcely more surprised were
they at his appearance than at his manner, which was kinder and more
indulgent than Mary had ever remembered it. For a short time Mrs.
Greville indulged hopes, that their long separation had effected a
change in her husband, and that they should at length be happy together.
He did not know much about Alfred, he said, except that he was well, and
travelling with some friends in different parts of the Continent.
Mrs. Greville tried to be satisfied, and her cheering hopes did not
desert her even when her husband expressed a wish that she would reside
with him at Paris. The wish rather confirmed them, as it evinced that he
was no longer indifferent to her own and his child's society. With
joyful alacrity she consented, but in vain endeavoured to banish from
Mary's mind the foreboding fears that appeared to have filled it, from
the hour it was settled they were to leave Monte Rosa. In vain her
mother affectionately represented how much nearer she would be to
Herbert; nothing could remove, though she strove to conquer, this
seemingly uncalled-for and indefinable despondency.
"I confess my weakness," she wrote to her betrothed, "but I had so often
pictured remaining at Monte Rosa till you came for me, as you had
promised, so often pictured to myself the delight of showing to you my
favourite haunts, ere we left them together for still dearer England,
that I cannot bear to find these visions dispelled without pain. I know
you will tell me I ought to be thankful for this great and happy change
in my father, and bear every privation for the chance of binding him to
us for ever. Do not reprove me, dear Herbert, but there is that about my
father that bids me tremble still, and whispers the calm is not lasting;
in vain I strive against it, but a voice tells me, in thus leaving Monte
Rosa, peace lingers in its beautiful shades, and woe's dark shadow
stands threatening before me."
Herbert longed to go to her, and thus disperse all these foreboding
fears, but that pleasure the near approach of his ordination prevented;
but fondly he looked forward with unalloyed hope in a few months to seek
his Mary, and at once banish all indefinable sorrow by making her his
own. Not a doubt entered his mind of Mr. Greville's consent, when he
should in person demand it, and he was eager to do so while this
strangely indulgent humour continued.
The first few months of her residence in Paris were fraught with
happiness for Mrs. Greville. Her husband's manner did not change. They
mingled in society, and the admiration Mary's quiet beauty excited
afforded the greatest pleasure to her mother, and even appeared to
inspire her father with some pride. To the poor girl herself it was
irksome and painful; but she tried to convince herself these feelings
were wrong, and checked them even in her letters to Herbert.
Ellen returned from Moorlands, where she had been staying with Lilla,
whose affection for her continued unabated; for she found in her society
and sympathy much comfort since her mother's death. There was little
change visible in Ellen. Her health was established, her pensive beauty
unimpaired. Still was she the meek, unassuming, gentle girl she had long
been; still to the eye of strangers somewhat cold and indifferent. Her
inward self was becoming every year more strengthened; she was resolved
to use every effort to _suffer_, without the slightest portion of
bitterness impregnating her sentiments towards her fellow-creatures, or
the world in general. Her lot she _knew_ was to _bear_; her duty she
_felt_ was to _conceal_.
Ellen, on her return home, gave her cousin the letter which Emmeline had
mentioned as having forwarded to her that morning. It was fraught with
interest, and the anxious eye of Mrs. Hamilton moved not from her
daughter's countenance as she read. Still was it so calm that even she
was puzzled; and again the thought, "Is it for him" she is thus
drooping, fading like a flower before me? is it, indeed, the struggle
between love and duty which has made her thus? crossed her mind, as it
had often, very often done before, and brought with it renewed
Lady Florence had written in the highest spirits, announcing the return
of her father, Lord Louis, and his tutor; that her brother was looking
quite well and strong, and was the same dear, merry, mischievous boy as
ever; delighted to be in England, abusing all the Germans, and
professing and displaying the most extreme fondness for Mr. Myrvin.
"He speaks of Mr. Myrvin in terms that bring tears to my eyes, tears of
which, my dear Ellen, I am not at all ashamed. The only drawback to the
life of a soldier, which my brother has now positively resolved on, in
spite of all our persuasions, exists, he says, in the consequent
separation from Mr. Myrvin, and he almost wishes to go to Cambridge, to
chain him to his side; but for Mr. Myrvin's sake, I am glad this will
not be. He is looking ill, very ill, quite different to the Arthur
Myrvin we knew at Oakwood; a change has come over him which I cannot
describe, and even to myself can scarcely define. He is much more
polished in his manner, but it is tinged with such deep melancholy, or
intense thought, I really do not know which it is, that he appears many
years older than when he left England. My father has at length prevailed
on him to resign all idea of again seeking the arduous charge of tutor,
but, with that honest pride which I so much admire and esteem, he has
refused all papa's offers of advancement, only consenting to accept the
living on Eugene's estate, when Louis shall require his services no
longer. I trust the healthy air of Cornwall and the quiet of his parish
will restore him to health, for the care which preserved that of Louis
has, I fear, ruined his own. He goes to London to-morrow to see
Herbert; the society of your cousins cannot fail to do him good. Louis
joins the army in a few months, and then Mr. Myrvin will take possession
of his living; but you will in all probability see them before, as Lord
and Lady St. Eval have sent a pressing invitation for them to come down
to Castle Terryn, and as soon as Mr. Myrvin returns from London, Louis
intends doing so. I want to hear Herbert's opinion of his friend, as my
dismal fancies concerning him may, after all, be only a woman's fancy,
yet looking ill he decidedly is."
So wrote Lady Florence, and very soon Herbert and Percy's letters home
confirmed all she had said. Either the air of Germany had not been
congenial, or some other cause had so changed his outward appearance and
tinged his manner, that Herbert could not look on him without pain; but
the restless irritation, the haughty indifference which had been his
before he left Oakwood, no longer existed. There was a quiet dignity
about him that prevented all intrusive sympathy, a mild, steady lustre
in his dark grey eye, which so clearly said conscience was at peace,
that Herbert instinctively felt the bonds of friendship stronger than
they had ever been before; he was no longer anxious, for he felt assured
the errors of Arthur's former life were conquered, and he wrote to his
father concerning his friend with all his native eloquence.
Emmeline made no observation; her young soul was absorbed in an intense
feeling of thanksgiving, that her prayers had been heard. Strength had
been granted him, and he had done his duty; he was esteemed, beloved;
his character was pure and bright; and if the gulf between them
remained impassable, should she murmur, when _all_ for which she had
prayed had been vouchsafed her? But a sterner call of obedience appeared
about to hover over her, from which her young spirit shrunk back
Herbert's anxious wishes were accomplished; there was no longer any
barrier to his earnest prayers to become a servant of his God, and of
service to his fellow-creatures. The six years in which he had laboured
unceasingly, untiringly, to prepare himself for the life which from his
boyhood he had chosen, now appeared but as a passing dream, and as he
knelt before the venerable bishop, his feelings became almost
overpowering. Tears rose in his eyes, and he drooped his head upon his
hands to conceal them. He felt this was no common life on which he
entered, no mere profession, in which he would be at liberty to think
and act as he pleased. Herbert felt that he had vowed himself to do the
work of God; that in it was comprised the good of his fellow-creatures.
The stern conquest of his own rebellious will; that his _actions_, not
his language only, should uphold the glory of his Maker.
The return of Percy and Herbert brought pleasure to Oakwood, and a week
or two afterwards Lord and Lady St. Eval, with their little boy,
arrived, imparting additional happiness. Emmeline was surprised at
seeing them, for she thought Lord Louis and his preceptor were expected
at Castle Terryn. Lord St. Eval often spoke of his brother, and alluded
to Myrvin, and even hinted his thanks to Emmeline for her exertions in
the latter's favour, when the Marquis was hesitating whether or not to
intrust him with the charge of his son; but on such matters he never
spoke openly, yet not so guardedly as to betray to Emmeline he was
acquainted with her secret.
Mr. Hamilton had many private conversations both with the young Earl and
his son Herbert, but what the subject was which so engrossed him only
Mrs. Hamilton knew.
The return of Edward, too, from a short cruise gave additional spirit to
Oakwood. The young sailor had rapidly run through the grades of
lieutenant, and now stood the first on the line; his character both as a
sailor and a man was confirmed. He was as deservedly respected by his
messmates as beloved by his family, and to Ellen he was indeed dear. The
most perfect confidence existed between this affectionate brother and
sister, except on one point, and on that even to Edward she could not
speak; but he had not one thought, one feeling which he concealed from
her, he sought no other friend. Scarcely could Mrs. Cameron and her son
Walter recognise in this amiable young man the headstrong, fiery,
overbearing lad they had known in India.
The little party at Oakwood had all either walked or ridden out, and
Mrs. Hamilton alone remained at home. She stood by the side of Emmeline,
who was asleep, peacefully and sweetly; a smile bright and beautiful as
of other days, played round her lips. The mother reflected on the words
of Mr. Maitland, who had assured her, the remedy he proposed would be
successful. "Make her happy, remove this weighty load which weighs upon
her heart, and she will live to be the blessing she has ever been to all
who love her."
Tears of mingled feeling rose to the eyes of Mrs. Hamilton as she
watched her child. Emmeline's lips moved. "Arthur, dear Arthur," she
murmured, a faint flush rising to her cheek, and the smile heightened in
its brilliancy; a few minutes, and her eyes unclosed; a shade of
disappointment passed over her features, a faint sigh struggled to
escape, but it was checked, for she met her mother's fond glance, and
"Why are you not gone out, dearest mother, this lovely evening? why stay
with such a dull companion as I am? Percy and Edward could offer so many
more attractions, and I am sure it is not with their good-will you are
"Would my Emmeline refuse me the sweet pleasure of watching her, tending
her? believe me, dearest, without you at my side, the park and this
lovely evening would lose half their attractions."
"Do not say so, my own mother. I am not ill, only lazy, and that you
were not wont to encourage; my eyes would close, spite of all my
efforts. But why should you have the uninteresting task of watching my
"Because, dearest, I will not abandon my office, till it is claimed as
the right of another. It will soon be, my Emmeline; but do not send me
from your side, till then."
"The right of another, dearest mother? whose right will it ever be but
yours? who can ever be to me the tender nurse that you have been?"
"One who will vow to love, protect, and cherish you; one who loves you,
my own Emmeline, and longs to claim you as his own, and restore, by his
affection, the health and spirits you have lost; one who has the consent
and blessing of your father and myself, and waits but for yours."
Emmeline started from her recumbent posture.
"Oh, send me not from you, mother, my own mother! Do not, oh, do not
compel me to marry!" she exclaimed, in a tone of agony. "The affection
of a husband restore my health! oh, no, no, it would break my heart at
once, and you would send me from you but to die. Mother, oh, let me stay
with you. Do not let my father command my obedience; in everything else
I will obey but in this." She hid her face in Mrs. Hamilton's bosom, and
"We will command nothing that can make you miserable, my own," replied
her mother, soothingly. "But you will love him, my Emmeline, you will
love him as he loves you; his fond affection cannot fail to make you
happy. You will learn to know him--to value his noble virtues, his
honourable principles. As his wife, new pleasures, new duties will be
around you. Health will return, and I shall see my Emmeline once more as
she was--my own happy child."
"And has it indeed gone so far that both you and my father have
consented, and I must disobey and displease my parents, or be miserable
"My child," said Mrs. Hamilton, so solemnly, that Emmeline involuntarily
checked her tears, "my child, you shall never marry the husband we have
chosen for you, unless you can love and be happy with him: sacredly and
irrevocably I promise this. You shall not sacrifice yourself for a
doubtful duty. If, when you have seen and known him, your wishes still
are contrary to ours, we will not demand your obedience. If you still
prefer your mother's home, never, never shall you go from me. Be
comforted, my Emmeline,--do not weep thus. Will you not trust me? If
you cannot love, you shall not marry."
"But, my father--oh, mamma, will he too promise me this?"
"Yes, love; doubt him not," and a smile so cheering, so happy, was round
Mrs. Hamilton's lips as she spoke, that Emmeline unconsciously felt
relieved. "We only wish our Emmeline's consent to an introduction to
this estimable young man, who has so long and so faithfully loved her,
and if still she is inexorable we must submit. Could I send you from me
without your free consent? Could I part from you except for happiness?"
Emmeline threw her arms round her mother's neck. In vain she struggled
to ask who was the young man of whom her mother spoke. Why should she
inquire, when she felt that he never, never could be anything to her?
Bitterly, painfully she struggled to dismiss the thought hastily from
her mind, and gladly hailed the entrance of the nurse with her little
nephew as a relief. Her mother joined her in caressing and playing with
him, and ere he was dismissed the scattered parties had returned, and
there was no opportunity for farther confidential converse.
It was a happy, merry party at Oakwood, but the presence of Lilla
Grahame was wanting to make it complete. Ellen was constantly with her,
for she would not permit the lively proceedings of home to interfere
with the call of friendship; and in this task of kindness she was
constantly joined by Edward, who would frequently leave gayer amusements
to offer Lilla his company on her walk, and his intelligent
conversation, his many amusing anecdotes, frequently drew a smile from
his young listener, and, combined with Ellen's presence and more quiet
sympathy, raised her spirits, and encouraged her in her painful task of
bearing with, if she could not soothe, her father's still irritable
temperament. Moorlands was to be sold; for Mr. Grahame had resolved on
burying himself and his child in some retired cottage, where his very
existence might be forgotten. In vain Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton combated
this resolution, and entreated him at least to settle near them; gloomy,
almost morose, he still spoke of Wales as the only place where he was
not known, where his name might not be associated with disgrace. Lilla
was just of an age to feel the parting with the kind friends of her
childhood as a most painful trial, but she determined to reconcile
herself to her father's will whatever it might be.
Captain Cameron too was an agreeable addition to the society of Oakwood;
high-spirited, and naturally joyous, Percy liked him as a kindred
spirit; and reserved, though intelligent, Herbert found many points of
his character assimilate with his. Mrs. Cameron's station in life had
been somewhat raised since her return to England. Sir Hector Cameron,
her husband's elder brother, childless and widowed, found his morose and
somewhat miserly disposition softened, and his wish to know his
brother's family became too powerful to be resisted. He had seen Walter
in Ireland, and admired the young man ere he knew who he was; a farther
acquaintance, ere he discovered himself as his uncle, heightened these
good impressions, and Walter, to his utter astonishment, found himself
suddenly the heir to a rich baronetcy, and his mother and sisters
comfortably provided for. He rejoiced at his good fortune, but not at
the baronetcy itself; not for the many pleasures which, as Sir Hector's
heir, now stood temptingly before him, but because he might now indeed
encourage an affection, which he had once believed was as hopeless as it
There is but one person whom we knew in a former page whose fate we have
omitted to mention; it may be well to do so here, ere we proceed
regularly with our narrative. The high-minded, unselfish, truth-loving
Lady Gertrude Lyle had at length, to the great joy of her parents,
consented to reward long years of silent devotion, by bestowing her hand
on the Marquis of Alford. They were married, and need we say that they
were happy? Lady Gertrude's love to her husband increased with each
passing year, and he, as time passed on, missed nothing of that bright
example of goodness, of piety, and virtue, which had led him to deserve
"Emmeline, dearest, put on your prettiest dress to-night, and confine
those flowing curls with some tasteful wreath," said Mr. Hamilton,
playfully addressing his daughter, about a week after the conversation
with her mother. The dressing-bell had sounded, and the various inmates
of Oakwood were obeying its summons as he spoke, and Caroline laughingly
asked her father how long he had taken such an interest in dress. "Does
your ladyship think I never do?" he replied, with mock gravity.
"Do you remember when my dear father's own hand wreathed a sprig of
scarlet geranium in my hair, some ten years ago, when I was a vain and
wilful girl?" replied the young Countess, without heeding his question,
and looking up with fond affection in his face. "Ah, papa, no flower,
even when formed of gems, ever gave me so much pleasure as that."
"Not even when placed within these glossy curls by St. Eval's hand? Are
you not jealous, Eugene?"
"Not in the least, my dear sir," replied the Earl, laughing. "I have
heard of that flower, and the good effects it produced."
"You have heard of it, have you? I should have fancied my Caroline had
long ere this forgotten it."
Lady St. Eval smiled reproachfully as she quitted the room, and Mr.
Hamilton, turning to Emmeline, took her hand fondly, and said, "Why does
my Emmeline look so grave? Does she not approve of her father taking an
interest in her dress? But it is not for me I wish you to look pretty
to-night, I will confess; for another, Emmeline, one whom I expect you
will, for my sake, do all in your power to please, and--and love. Do not
start, my child, the task will not be very difficult." He kissed her
cheek with a cheerful smile, and left her, motionless and pale, every
feature expressive of passive endurance, her hands clasped tightly on
her heart. Emmeline sat before her mirror, and permitted Fanny to
arrange her beautiful hair as she would; to her it mattered not. The
words of her father alone rung in her ears. That night sealed her fate.
Fanny spoke, for she was alarmed at her young lady's manner, but
Emmeline answered as if she had heard her not, and the business of the
toilette passed in silence. Yet so well had it been performed, so fair
and lovely did that gentle girl look, as she entered the drawing-room,
that every eye was fixed on her in admiration. The graceful folds of an
Indian muslin dress enveloped her slight form, and a wreath of lilies
of the valley, twined with the smallest pink rose-buds, confined her
luxuriant hair; a scarcely perceptible blush was on her cheeks, and her
eyes, continually wandering round the room, as if in search for some
unseen object, shone with unusual brilliancy. Her father whispered, as
he found himself near her--
"I do not expect my friend will arrive till late, my little Emmy, but
look as pretty then as you do now, and I shall be satisfied."
She was relieved, but intelligence met her ear, ere dinner was
concluded, that rendered it a fearful struggle to retain her composure.
Mrs. Cameron's family, Mr. Howard, and one or two others, she knew were
coming in the evening, but that Lord St. Eval expected his brother Louis
to arrive at Oakwood by eight or nine o'clock that same evening, was
indeed information startling in the extreme. Would he not be accompanied
by his preceptor? Would she not see him, from whom she had so long been
parted? see him, to whom her heart was given, and in his presence be
introduced to the husband of her parents' choice?
Mrs. Hamilton watched her with extreme uneasiness, and when dinner was
over, whispered, as it seemed, an earnest entreaty in her husband's ear.
He shook his head in sportive refusal; she still appeared anxious, but
acquiesced. The hours passed on. Emmeline for a few minutes had retired,
for the happiness, the gaiety around her, pressed with over-powering
heaviness on her heart; she had turned from it almost unconsciously.
"Why, oh, why did I not confess to mamma that I could not wed another,
because I still loved Arthur? why was I so foolish as to fear to confess
the truth, we should not then have met? Why have I been so weak to hide
these miserable feelings even from my mother? how can I expect her
sympathy, when she knows them not?"
So she thought, but it was now too late. The affectionate caresses, the
kind voice of her cousin Ellen roused her; controlling herself, she took
Ellen's arm, and together they entered the drawing-room. She saw no
strangers, all were familiar to her eye, and rallying her spirits, she
entered into conversation with St. Eval, who hastened up to her as she
entered. Ellen joined the dancers.
"I wonder why we all seem so gay and happy to-night," said St. Eval.
"Look at Captain Cameron and our pretty demure cousin Ellen, Emmeline; I
never saw such devotion in my life. Take my word for it, that will be a
match one of these days, and a very pretty one. Cameron is a good
fellow, and if ever any one were smitten, he is."
"But Ellen's admiration of his character is rather too open and freely
expressed for him to hope his affection, if he do love, is returned. No,
Eugene, Captain Cameron may be attracted, I grant you, but I do not
fancy he will be Ellen's choice."
"Do you know any whom you think will?"
"What a question," she said, smiling, "to tempt me to betray my cousin's
secrets, if she had any, but candidly I must admit that as yet I know
none. It is a strange fancy, but I often think Ellen will be an old
"Why, is she so precise, so prim, so opinionated, so crabbed? For shame,
Emmeline, even to hint such a thing."
"Nay, St. Eval, the shame is rather yours, for daring to associate such
terms with a single woman. To go through life alone, without sympathy,
without any call for natural affections, always appears at first sight
rather melancholy than otherwise; but why should dislike and prejudice
be added to them? I cannot think that a woman's remaining unmarried is
any proof of her being unamiable."
"Indeed, I am not so unjust," said the Earl, smiling; "when old maids
conduct themselves properly, I esteem them quite as much and more than
some married women. But still Ellen shall not be an old maid; she is too
pretty and too good, and would bless any man who may be happy enough to
gain her affections and esteem. But you, Emmeline, you, surely, will not
be an old maid, though you are so warm in their defence."
"My lot is not in my own hands--do not speak of that, Eugene," she said,
with a quivering lip; and hastily turning from his gaze, she added, "as
you seem to know everybody's concerns in the room, what are Mrs. Cameron
and Florence talking so intently about?"
"On the old subject: my madcap brother Louis and his sage tutor. By the
bye, Emmy, I have never asked what you think of Myrvin's conduct in this
affair; did he not behave admirably?"
"He did but his duty," replied Emmeline, firmly. "He acted but as every
man of generous feelings would have done; it was his duty, for he had
pledged himself to the care of his pupil, and could he have left him in
his sickness? The dictates of common humanity, the social duties of life
would have prevented him."
"What a pity Florence does not hear you, such calm reasoning would
destroy all the glow of romance which she has thrown around these
incidents. But indeed you do not give Myrvin his due, every man does not
perform his duty."
"Every man _ought_, and when he does not, he is wrong; as when he does,
he is right."
"But this is contrary to your own principle, Emmeline. What has become
of the enthusiasm which once bade you condemn all such cold judgments,
such scanty praise? Once upon a time, you would have looked on such
conduct very differently."
Emmeline turned away, but St. Eval saw her eyes were swimming in tears.
He continued, sportively--
"Be assured, I will tell Myrvin as soon as I see him."
"I beg you will not, my lord," Emmeline said, struggling to retain her
calmness; but failing, she added, entreatingly, "dearest Eugene, if you
have any regard for me, do not repeat my words; let them pass with the
subject, it has engrossed us quite enough."
St. Eval shook his head in playful reproof. They sat apart from the
dancers, and feeling neither her words nor any subsequent agitation
could be remarked, she placed her trembling hand in St. Eval's, and
said, almost inarticulately--
"Eugene, tell me, does Arthur--Mr. Myrvin accompany Lord Louis to-night?
Do not deceive me."
"He does," he replied instantly, "and what detains them I cannot
understand. But fear nothing, dearest Emmeline, I know all; you may
trust me, fear nothing. And now your promise--the quadrille is formed,
they only wait for us."
"I know all, fear nothing," Emmeline internally repeated, her whole
frame trembling with agitation, as kindly and encouragingly St. Eval
led her to the place assigned them. She forced herself to think only on
the dance, on the amusing anecdotes he was telling her, on the light
laugh, the ready jest that were sparkling around her. Her natural grace
in dancing forsook her not, nor did she refuse her sister's request,
when the quadrille was finished, that she would take out her harp. She
seated herself at the instrument and commenced.
Music had not lost its charm, rapt in the exquisite air she was playing,
it seemed to soothe her agitated feelings, and bid her forget her usual
timidity. All were silent, for the air was so sweet, so plaintive, not a
voice could have disturbed it; it changed to a quicker, more animated
strain, and at that instant Emmeline beheld Edward and Ellen hastily
rise to greet a young man, who noiselessly yet eagerly came forward to
meet them: it was Lord Louis. Emmeline started, a strong effort alone
enabled her to command herself sufficiently to continue playing, but her
fingers now moved mechanically; every pulse throbbed so violently, and
to her ear so loudly, that she no longer heard the notes she played. All
was a mist before her eyes, and the animated plaudits that greeted her
as she ceased, rung in her ears as unmeaning, unintelligible sounds.
Lord Louis hastily advanced to lead her from the harp, and to tell her
how very glad he was to see her again, though even his usually careless
eye lost its mirthful expression, as he marked the alteration in his
favourite companion. Emmeline tried to smile and answer him in his own
strain, but her smile was sickly and faint, and her voice trembled
audibly as she spoke. She looked round, fearing, yet longing to see
another, but Lord Louis was alone. His preceptor was not near him, but
Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, St. Eval and Herbert had also left the room. Some
little time passed in animated conversation, still Myrvin did not
"You are wanted in the library, dearest Emmeline," said the young
Countess St. Eval.
"Come with me, Emmeline: foolish girl, 'fear nothing,'" said the Earl,
"Smile, gentle one," he whispered, as she turned her beseeching glance
towards him, "do not greet the husband your parents have selected for
you with a countenance such as this; nay, fear nothing," he repeated, as
her steps faltered, and every limb trembled at his words. Again he
smiled as he had once before during that evening, and for the first time
a gleam of sudden light darted across the bewildered mind of the
agitated girl, but so dazzling were the rays, so overpowering the
brilliancy, from the contrast with the deep gloom which had been there
before, that she could not believe it real; she deemed it some wild
freak of fancy, that sportive fancy which had so long deserted her. St.
Eval hurried on, supporting rather than leading his companion. They
reached the library, and Emmeline's agitation increased almost to
fainting; she leaned more heavily on St. Eval's arm; though her heart
beat almost audibly, and her cheek vied in its paleness with a marble
statue near her, not a word betrayed her emotion. There were many lights
within the library, a group was gathered round the centre table, but to
Emmeline all was indistinct, not one amongst them could she recognise.
Her father hastened towards her, he took her trembling hand in his, and
led her gently forward.
"Look up, my beloved," he said, tenderly, "we have sent for you to
ratify the consent your mother and I have given, given on condition,
that if yours be withheld, ours also is void. But will the long years of
silent love and uncomplaining suffering for your sake, plead in vain to
one so gentle as yourself? Look up, my Emmeline, and tell me, if the
fond affection, the tender cares of him whom we have chosen, will not
indeed prove the best restorative we can bestow?"
She did look up, and the quick gushing flow of blood dyed her pallid
cheek with crimson, and lit up her soft eyes with their wonted lustre.
There was one tall, manly form beside her, gazing on her with such
devoted love, that she saw not how pale were those expressive features,
what a deep impress of long suffering was on that high and noble brow.
She heard naught but that deep rich voice pronounce her name, and call
her "his own, own Emmeline," for she had sunk in his extended arms, she
had hidden her face upon his shoulder and wept.
"Are we forgiven, Emmeline, dearest?" said Mrs. Hamilton, fondly, after
a long pause, which many mingled feelings had occasioned. Her child
withdrew for a moment from the arms of her betrothed, and flung herself
upon her neck. "Your father bound me by a promise not to reveal his
secret, and I kept it well till this evening; for did you not deserve
some punishment, my child, for believing even for a single moment your
parents would have rewarded your unwavering discharge of a most painful
duty, your unhesitating submission to our will, by forcing you to bestow
your hand upon another, when your heart was already engaged? No, my own
Emmeline, we could not have been so cruel. Take her, my dear Arthur;
freely, fearlessly I consign her happiness to your charge, for indeed
you have well deserved her."
We need not lift the veil from the brief interview which the
consideration of Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton afforded to the lovers, it is
enough that they were happy, happy in the consciousness not of present
joy alone, but of duty unshrinkingly performed, of pain endured with
unrepining fortitude; unalloyed in its purity indeed was their
happiness, for it was the recompense of virtue.
When the tidings of what had passed were made known, there were few who
did not feel as if some individual joy had been imparted. The universal
sympathy occasioned by the happiness of a being so generally beloved as
Emmeline shed new animation over the little party. And Ellen, the gentle
affectionate Ellen, did not she rejoice? She did, unfeignedly,
sincerely, but there was a pang of bitterness mingled with it which she
vainly struggled to subdue.
"Can you consent to live in the humble vicarage of my estate, Emmeline?"
whispered the young Earl in her ear, as she relinquished the arm of
Arthur, whom Edward, Percy, and Ellen were eagerly surrounding. "You
have often admired it. Will it serve you for a home, think you? if not,
name what alterations you will like, and they shall be done, even as if
Aladdin's wonderful genii had performed it."
"Dearest Eugene," said Emmeline, "I feel it is to you, to your generous
pleadings in Arthur's favour, I greatly owe this happiness. Will you not
let me thank you for that, instead of asking more?"
"No, little fairy, I will do no such thing, for I only spoke the truth,
and that, Emmeline, 'was but my _duty_,' and demands no thanks or praise
whatever; and as I have selected my friend Myrvin to supply the place of
my late vicar, who was promoted last week to a better living, to see
everything prepared for his comfort, and that of his wife, is also
"Nay, spare me, dear St. Eval; I will plead guilty of not giving Arthur
his due, if you will promise me not always to torment me with duty. I
was unjust and unkind."
"No, dearest Emmy, you were neither unjust nor unkind; you only said one
thing and meant another, and as _I_ know _why_ you did so, I forgive
Mrs. Cameron's family and the other guests having departed, and only Mr.
Hamilton's own circle lingering in the drawing-room, some surprise was
occasioned to all except Mrs. Hamilton and Percy, by Mr. Hamilton
suddenly laying his hand gently on Herbert's shoulder, and saying
earnestly, though somewhat playfully--
"One surprise and one cause for congratulation we might, I think, deem
sufficient for _one_ evening, but I intend being the happy messenger of
another event, which may chance to be even more surprising, and
certainly not less joyful. I beg you will all offer Mrs. Hamilton and
myself your warmest congratulations, for the same day that gives us a
new son will, I trust, bestow on us an other daughter. This quiet young
man intends taking unto himself a wife; and as it may be some little
time ere we can bring her home from France, the best thing we can do is
to anticipate two marriages in one day."
"Herbert, my true English bred and English feeling cousin, marry a
French woman, by my good sword, you shall not," said Edward, laughing,
when the universal surprise and joy which this information had excited
had somewhat subsided. The eager question who was Herbert's choice, was
asked by Caroline and Emmeline together.
"Fear nothing, Master Lieutenant," St. Eval said, ere Herbert could
reply; "my wits, though a landsman, are not quite so blunt as yours, and
I guess better than you do. Is it possible no one here can tell? has my
demure brother Herbert's secret never been suspected? Caroline, what has
become of your penetration; and Emmeline, your romance? Ellen, cannot
"Yes," she replied, instantly, though as she spoke a sudden crimson rose
to her cheek, which, though unnoticed, had been, while Mr. Hamilton
spoke, pale as death.
"May you, may you be happy, dearest Herbert," she added, calmly, as she
extended her hand to him; "few are so fitted to make you so, few can so
truly sympathise in your feelings as Mary Greville."
"You are right, you are right, Ellen," said Lady Emily Lyle, as Herbert
warmly pressed his cousin's hand, and thanked her in that low thrilling
voice so peculiarly his own; and then, with a countenance radiant with
animated joy, turned towards the little group, and thanking them for the
joy with which his Mary's name was universally greeted, turned to Edward
and asked, with a smile, if Mary were not sufficiently English to
"Quite, quite; I would even go over to France for the sake of bringing
her to England in my gallant Gem," replied the young sailor. "She is
the best wife you could have chosen, Herbert, for you were ever
alongside, even in your boyish days; and it would have been a sin and
shame for you to have married any one else. Percy, why do not you follow
such an excellent example?"
"I--because a bachelor's life has not yet lost its charms for me,
Edward! I like my own ease, my own pleasure best, and wish to be free a
short time longer," replied the young man, stretching himself on a sofa,
with a comic air of _nonchalance_ and affectation; then starting up, he
added, theatrically, "I am going to be a senator, a senator; and how in
the world can I think of matrimony but as a state of felicity unsuited
to such a hard-working fellow as I am, or rather mean to be."
"I commend you for the correction in your speech, Percy," said his
mother, smiling. "_Mean to be_ and _am_, are two very different things."
"But in me may chance so to amalgamate as to become the same. Mother,
who would believe you could be so severe? But I forgive you; one of
these days you will regret your injustice: that smile says I wish I may.
Well, we shall see. And now, lords and ladies, to bed, to bed. I have
swallowed such large draughts of surprise to-night, I can bear no more.
A kind good night to all. Myrvin," he called out from the hall, "if you
are as early to-morrow as you were at Oxford, we will be off to
Trevilion and inspect your new vicarage before breakfast, and back by
"Not to-morrow, Arthur," entreated Emmeline, in a low voice, as he
followed her from the room.
"Not to-morrow, dearest," he replied, tenderly, as he drew her to his
bosom, and bade God bless her.
The other members of the family also separated, Ellen one of the last,
for Lady Emily at first detained her in some trifling converse, and Mrs.
Hamilton was telling her of something she wished her niece to do for her
the next morning. Ellen was standing in the shade as her aunt spoke; all
had left the room except Edward and themselves, and humming a lively
air, the former was departing, when, turning round to wish his sister
good night, the light flashed full upon her face, and there was
something in its expression, in its almost unearthly paleness, that made
him suddenly start and cease his song.
"Merciful heaven! Ellen, what is the matter? You look like a ghost."
"Do not be silly, Edward, there is nothing the matter. I am quite well,
only warm," she replied, struggling to smile, but her voice was so
choked, her smile so unnatural, that not only her brother but her aunt
"You are deceiving us, my dear girl, you are not well. Are you in pain,
dearest?" she said, hastening towards her.
Ellen had borne up well when unnoticed; but the voice of kindness, the
fond caress her aunt bestowed completely overpowered her, and, sinking
on a chair, she burst into tears.
"It is nothing, indeed it is nothing, my dear aunt," she said, with a
strong effort checking the bursting sob. "I have felt the heat very
oppressive all the evening, it is only that which makes me so foolish."
"I hope it is only the heat, my Ellen," replied Mrs. Hamilton, fondly,
suspicion flashing across her mind, not indeed of the truth, but
something near akin to it. For a few minutes Ellen leaned her head
silently against her aunt, who continued bending over her, then
returning her affectionate kiss, shook hands with her brother, assured
him she was quite well, and quietly left the room.
"Now, then, I know indeed my fate," Ellen murmured internally, as her
aching head rested on a sleepless pillow, and her clasped hands were
pressed against her heart to stop its suffocating throbs. "Why am I thus
overwhelmed, as if I had ever hoped, as if this were unexpected? Have I
not known it, have I not felt that she would ever be his choice? that I
was mad enough to love one, who from his boyhood loved another. Why has
it fallen on me as a shock for which I was utterly unprepared? What has
become of my many resolutions? Why should the task be more difficult now
than it has been? I feel as if life were irksome to me, as if all I
loved were turned to that bitterness of spirit against which I have
striven, as if I could dash from my poor cousin's lips the cup of
unexpected happiness she has only this evening tasted. Oh, merciful
Father! forsake me not now, let me not feel thus, only fill my heart
with love and charity, take from me this bitterness and envy. It is Thou
that dispenseth this bitter cup. Father, I recognise Thy hand, and would
indeed resign myself to Thee. Oh, enable me to do so; teach me to love
Thee alone, to do Thy work, to subdue myself, and in thankfulness
receive the many blessings still around me; let me but see _them_ happy.
Oh, my Father, let Thy choicest blessings be his lot, and for me" it was
a bitter struggle, but ere the night had passed that young spirit had
conquered, had uttered fervently, trustingly, heartfully,--"for me, oh,
my Father, let Thy will be done." And Ellen joined the breakfast-table
the following morning calm and cheerful; there was no trace of internal
suffering, no sign to betray even to her aunt all that she endured. She
entered cheerfully into all Emmeline's happiness, accompanied her and
Arthur, with Lord and Lady St. Eval, to Trevilion, and entered into
every suggested plan, as if indeed no other thoughts engrossed her.
Arthur and Emmeline found in her an active and affectionate friend, and
the respect and love with which she felt herself regarded seemed to
soothe, while it urged her on to increased exertion. Mrs. Hamilton
watched her anxiously; she had at first fancied Arthur was the object of
her niece's regard, but this idea was not strengthened, and though she
felt assured such was not the real cause of Ellen's agitation that
eventful evening, she could not, and did not guess the truth.
The revealing a long-treasured secret, the laying bare feelings of the
heart, which have so long been concealed, even to our dearest friends,
does not always produce happiness; there is a blank within us, a
yearning after something we know not what, and the spirit loses for a
time its elasticity. It may be that the treasured secret has been so
long enshrined in our innermost souls, we have felt it so long as only
our own, that when we betray it to others, it is as if we parted from a
friend; it is no longer our own, we can no longer hold sweet communion
with it, for the voice of the world hath also reached it, and though at
first its revealing is joy, it is followed by a sorrow. So Herbert felt,
when the excitement of congratulation, of the warm sympathy of his
friends had given place to solicitude and thought. Mary had been so
long the shrine of his secret, fondest thoughts, he had so long indulged
in delicious fancies, known to few others save himself, that now they
had been intruded on even by the voice of gratulation, they would no
longer throng around. It was strange that on this night, when his choice
had been so warmly approved of by all his friends, when words of such
heartfelt kindness had been lavished in his ear, that the same dull
foreboding of future evil, of suffering, of death, pressed heavily on
him, as in earlier years it had been so wont to do. He struggled against
it; he would not listen to its voice, but it would have sway. Donned it
was not indeed, but from its mystery more saddening. Herbert wrestled
with himself in fervent prayer; that night was to him almost as
sleepless as it was to his cousin Ellen, but the cause of her weary
watching was, alas! too well defined. The bright sun, the joyous voices
of his brother and cousin beneath his window, roused Herbert from these
thoughts, and ere the day had passed, he had partly recovered the usual
tenor of his mind, though its buoyancy was still subdued, and its secret
temperament somewhat sad, but to his family he seemed as usual.
Some weeks passed, and Emmeline's health was rapidly returning; her
spirits were more like those of her girlhood, subdued indeed by past
suffering, but only so far subdued as to render her, if possible, still
dearer to all those who loved her; and she, too, beheld with delight the
colour returning to her Arthur's cheek, his step regaining its
elasticity; and there was a manly dignity about him now which, when she
first loved, she had not seen, but which she felt rendered him still
dearer, for she could look up to him for support, she could feel
dependence on his stronger and more decisive character.
Each week confirmed Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton in the wisdom of their
decision, by revealing more clearly Myrvin's character. He was more
devoted to the duties of his clerical profession; pride, haughtiness,
that dislike to mingle with his parishioners, had all departed, and as
they observed how warmly and delightedly their Emmeline entered into his
many plans for doing good, for increasing the happiness of the villagers
under his spiritual charge, they felt that her domestic virtues, her
gentle disposition, were far more suited to the wife of a clergyman,
than to that life of bustling gaiety which might perhaps, under other
circumstances, have been her portion.
"Are there not responsibilities attached to a clergyman's wife?" she
once asked her mother. "I feel as if so much depended upon _me_ to
render him respected and beloved, that I sometimes fear I may fail in my
duty, and, through ignorance, not intentional, perhaps bring discredit
on his name. Dearest mother, how can I prevent this?"
"These fears are natural to one of your character, my Emmeline, but they
will quickly pass away. You would be more likely to fail in the duties
of fashionable life, than in those which you will soon have to fulfil.
Occupation which, had you been more fashionably educated, must have been
irksome, will to you remain the pleasures they have ever been,
heightened and encouraged by the sympathy of your husband. A wife to be
truly happy and virtuous, must entirely forget _self_; a truth which the
partner of a country clergyman should ever remember, as his family is
larger, more constant in their calls upon her attention and sympathy,
and sometimes her exertions are less productive of satisfaction and
pleasure, than those of many other stations in life. Her own demeanour
should be alike gentle, unassuming, persuasive, yet dignified, so that
her actions may assist and uphold her husband's doctrines more than her
language. You have but to follow the principles of Christianity and the
dictates of your own heart, my Emmeline, and your duty will be done,
almost unconsciously to yourself."
The only drawback to Emmeline's happiness was, that Lord and Lady St.
Eval were obliged to leave England ere her marriage could be solemnized,
the health of the latter prohibiting further delay. They did not expect
to be absent much more than a twelvemonth, and the Earl, laughingly,
told Emmeline, if she would defer her wedding till then, he would
promise to be present; to that, however, none of the parties concerned
seemed inclined to consent, and St. Eval owned he would much rather, on
his return, see her comfortably settled at the Vicarage, where
preparations were rapidly advancing. Percy, however, promised to defer
his intended tour till his favourite sister should be Myrvin's bride,
and Edward, on leaving to join his ship, declared, if wind and tide were
not very contrary, he, too, would take a run down and dance at her
A short time after the departure of the Earl and Countess, and Edward,
Ellen received from the hand of her cousin Herbert a letter, which for
the moment caused her some emotion. She felt his eyes were fixed upon
her with a peculiar expression, and shrinking from them, she was
hastening to her own room to answer the letter there, when Herbert
called after her--
"Do not run away from me, Nelly; whatever be your answer, I am to be the
Returning instantly, she asked, with cheek suddenly paled and lip
compressed, "Are you then aware of the contents of this letter, Herbert;
are you in Captain Cameron's confidence?"
"To both demands I am happy enough to answer, yes, Ellen," he replied,
smiling archly. "Captain Cameron has made me his father confessor, and
in return, I have promised to use all my influence in his favour, to
tell you what his letter may perhaps have but incoherently expressed:
that he loves you, Ellen, devotedly, faithfully; that he feels life
without you, however brilliant in appearance, will be a blank. I
promised him I would play the lover well, and indeed, my dear cousin,
his affection and esteem for you do not admit a single doubt."
"I am sorry for it," said Ellen, calmly, "very sorry, as it is not in my
power to return those feelings, and consequently I am compelled to give
him pain. I am grateful, very grateful for the high opinion, the kind
feelings, his letter expresses towards me. I shall never cease to
respect and value him as a friend, but more I cannot give."
"Nay, Ellen, take time to consider of his offer; do not refuse him at
once thus decidedly. You say you respect him. I know you admire his
conduct, both as a son and brother, and as a man. What objections are
there so great as to call for this decided and instant refusal?"
"Simply because, as a husband, I can never love him."
"Never is a long day, Ellen. You surely have not so much romance in your
composition as to refuse a young man possessing every virtue which can
make a woman happy, merely because he does not excite any very violent
passion? Do you not know there are some dispositions which never love to
the full extent of the word, and yet are perhaps happier in the marriage
state than those who do? Now you may be one of these, Ellen."
"It may be so," she said, still calmly, though a deep flush stained her
cheek. Herbert had spoken playfully, but there was that in his words
which, to a heart seared as was hers, was productive of intense
"It may be so perhaps; I shall never meet one to love, as I believe a
husband ought to be loved, yet that would not satisfy my conscience for
accepting Walter. I trust I am not romantic, Herbert, but I will say,
that the vow to love, honour, and obey, to think only of him, demands
something more than the mere cold esteem which some may deem sufficient
for happiness. Walter _is_ an estimable young man, one who will make any
woman happy, and deeply indeed I regret that he has chosen one who can
only return his warm devoted affection with the comparatively chilling
sentiments of friendship and esteem. I would not do his kind heart so
much wrong as to accept him."
"But take time, Ellen, give him some hope. You can urge no objections
against him, and his family are dear to you. He has told me that from
his childhood he loved you, that your remembrance never left him, and
when again he met you, his fanciful visions became a beautiful and
palpable reality; give him, at least, some time for hope. It is
impossible, with a heart disengaged as yours, to associate intimately
with him and not love him."
"A heart disengaged as mine! how know you that, Herbert?" said his
cousin, with a smile, which would have deceived the most penetrating
eye. "Are you not presuming too far in your inspection of my heart,
seeking in rather a roundabout way, to obtain my entire confidence?"
"No, dearest Ellen, I speak and feel in this business but as Edward
would, were he in my place; your happiness is as dear to me as it is to
him. We have for very many years been to each other as a brother and
sister, and, believe me, in urging your acceptance of this good young
man, I seek but your welfare alone."
"I believe you, my dear cousin," replied Ellen, frankly holding out her
hand, which Herbert warmly pressed. "But indeed, in this instance, you
are deceived. An union with Walter Cameron would not form my happiness,
worthy as he is,--suitable as the world would deem such a match in all
respects; and sorry as I am to inflict pain and disappointment on the
companion of my childhood, as also, I fear, on his kind mother, I cannot
be his wife."
"And if your affections be already engaged, far be it from me to urge
you farther; but"--
"I said not that they were, Herbert," interrupted Ellen, steadily
fixing, as she spoke, her large eyes unshrinkingly on her cousin's face.
Herbert felt fairly puzzled, he could not read her heart; he would have
asked her confidence, he would have promised to do all in his power to
forward her happiness, but there was something around her that, while it
called forth his almost unconscious respect, entirely checked all
farther question. He did not fancy that she loved another, and yet why
this determined rejection of a young man whom he knew she esteemed.
"I am only grieving you by continuing the subject," he said; "and
therefore grant me your forgiveness, dearest Ellen, and your final
answer to Cameron, and it shall be resumed no more."
"I have nothing to forgive, Herbert," replied Ellen, somewhat
She sat a few minutes longer, in saddened thought, gazing on the open
letter, and then quitted the room and sought her own. She softly closed
the door, secured it, and then sinking on a low seat beside her couch,
buried her pale face in her hands, and for a few minutes remained
overwhelmed by that intensity of secret and tearless suffering. It was
called forth afresh by this interview with her cousin: to hear his lips
plead thus eloquently the cause of another; to hear him say that perhaps
she was one of those who would never love to its full extent. When her
young heart felt bursting beneath the load of deep affection pressing
there, one sweet alone mingled in that cup of bitterness, Herbert
guessed not, suspected not the truth. She had succeeded well in
concealing the anguish called forth by unrequited love, and she would
"Never, never shall it be known that I have given this rebellious heart
to one who seeks it not. No, no, that tale shall live and die with me;
no one shall know how low I have fallen. Poor Walter! he will think I
cannot feel for his unreturned affection, when I know too well its pang;
and why should I not be happy with him, why live on in lingering
wretchedness, when, perhaps as a wife, new duties might rouse me from
this lethargy? Away from Herbert I might forget--be reconciled; but
swear to love Walter when I have no love to give--return his affection
by indifference--oh, no, no, I will not be so guilty."
Ellen again hid her eyes in her hands, and thought long and painfully.
Pride urged her to accept young Cameron, but every better feeling
revolted from it. She started from that posture of despondency, and,
with a bursting heart, answered Walter's eloquent appeal. Kindness
breathed in every line she wrote--regard for his welfare--esteem for his
character; but she calmly yet decidedly rejected his addresses. She was
grieved, she said, most deeply grieved that anything in her manner
towards him had encouraged his hopes. She had acted but as she felt,
looking on the companion of her early childhood, the son of her father's
and her own kind friend, as a brother and a friend, in which light she
hoped he would ever permit her to regard him. Hope found no
resting-place in her letter, but it breathed such true and gentle
sympathy and kindness, that Walter could not but feel soothed, even in
the midst of disappointment. Ellen paused ere she sealed her letter; she
could not bear to act, even in this matter, without confiding in her
aunt; that Captain Cameron had proposed and been rejected, she felt
assured, report would soon convey to her ears. Why not then seek her
herself? The task of writing had calmed her heart. Taking, therefore,
Walter's letter and her own, she repaired to her aunt's dressing-room,
and fortunately found her alone. Mrs. Hamilton looked earnestly at her
as she entered, but she made no observation till, in compliance with
Ellen's request, she perused the letters offered to her.
"Have you reflected sufficiently on your decision, my Ellen?" she said,
after thanking her for the confidence she reposed in her. "Have you
thought well on the estimable character of this young man? Far be it
from me to urge or persuade you in such an important matter as marriage,
but you have not, I trust, answered this letter on the impulse of the
"No, aunt, I have not indeed. Herbert has been most earnestly pleading
Captain Cameron's cause, and I have thought on all he has said, and the
little I can bring forward to combat it, but still I have refused him,
because as a husband I can never love him. I honour all his good
qualities. I cannot remember one fault or failing in his character,
which might render a wife unhappy. I grieve for his disappointment, but
I should not think I was doing either him or myself justice, to accept
him merely on these considerations. Herbert, I know, considers me
romantic, and perhaps unkind towards his friend; but painful as such an
idea is, I cannot act otherwise than I have done."
"Do not let that idea, then, continue to give you pain, my dear girl;
your manner towards Walter has never expressed more than kindness and
friendly regard. If I had seen anything like encouragement to him on
your part, do you not think I should have called you to account long
ago?" she added, with a smile, as Ellen, much relieved, kissed her in
silence. "Our young folks have, I know sometimes in sport, allied your
name with his, but I have generally checked them. Walter I certainly did
fancy admired you, but I did not imagine the feeling so decided as it
has proved. I will not blame your decision, though perhaps it may not be
a very wise one. Marriage is too serious a thing to be entered upon
lightly, and if you cannot love Walter as a husband, why you are quite
right not to accept him. I am not so eager to part with my Ellen as to
advise her marrying, whether she likes it or not. I shall soon have only
you to cheer my old age, you know. Do not look so pained and sad, love;
it is not thus young ladies in general refuse an offer. Go and give your
letter to Herbert, tell him it has my unqualified approval, and then
return to me. I marked some beautiful passages in one of our favourite
authors the other day and you shall read them to me. Now run away, and
come back quickly."
Ellen obeyed gladly and gratefully, and was enabled playfully to return
the smile with which Herbert received her letter and his mother's
message. Mrs. Hamilton felt more and more convinced that her suspicions
were correct, and that her niece's affections were unhappily engaged.
She thought again and again who could be their object, and still she
fancied it was Arthur Myrvin. She scarcely knew why herself, except from
Ellen's agitation the night of his arrival at Oakwood, and engagement
with Emmeline. That Herbert was the object was to her so improbable,
that the idea never crossed her mind. They had lived so long as brother
and sister, they had from their earliest childhood so intimately
associated with each other, Ellen and Edward were to her so like her own
children, that not once did she imagine Ellen loved her cousin. She
watched her closely, and she was more and more convinced that she had
something to conceal. She was certain her decided rejection of Walter
proceeded from her affections being already engaged, which had also
blinded her to his attentions; and she was convinced also that Ellen
loved in vain, and therefore, though she longed to console and soothe
her, she resolved not to speak to her on the subject, and wring from her
a secret which, when once betrayed, though revealed to her alone, might
be still more painful to endure. Mrs. Hamilton's manner was so kind, so
soothing, so calculated to support and strengthen, that Ellen more than
once wondered whether her aunt had indeed discovered her secret; but she
could not speak of it. She could not even to the being she loved best on
earth, with the exception of one, thus lay bare her aching heart. Often
and often she longed to throw herself in the arms of her aunt and weep,
but she controlled the impulse, and bore on in silence and outward
cheerfulness; strengthened in her efforts by the conviction that Herbert
knew not, imagined not the truth.
Young Cameron was grieved and disappointed, for his love for Ellen was
indeed sincere, but he could not mistake her letter; he saw there was no
hope, her expressions of friendship and kindness were soothing and
gratifying, they prevented all bitterness of feeling, and he determined
to preserve the friendship and brotherly regard which she so frankly
Mrs. Cameron was at first somewhat hurt at Ellen's decided rejection of
her son, but she could not long retain any emotion of coolness towards
her, she could not resist the affectionate manner of Ellen, and all was
soon as usual between them. A visit with Percy to Castle Malvern, at
Lord Louis's earnest entreaty, to Walter was an agreeable change, though
it had at first been a struggle to rouse himself sufficiently. There the
character and conversation of Lady Florence Lyle, to his excited fancy,
so much resembled Ellen's, that unconsciously he felt soothed and happy.
From Castle Malvern, he joined his regiment with Lord Louis, who had
received a commission in the same troop, and by the time Captain Cameron
returned to Oakwood, he could associate with Ellen as a friend and a
brother. Above a year, it is true, elapsed before that time, and in that
period events had occurred at Oakwood, as unexpected as they were
mournful--but we will not anticipate.
Soon after Lord and Lady St. Eval's departure for Italy, Mr. Grahame,
despite the entreaties of his friends, even the silent eloquence of
Lilla's appealing eyes, put his resolution into force, and retired to
Wales. He had paid to the last farthing all his misguided son's
honourable and dishonourable debts; and this proceeding, as might be
expected, left him so reduced in fortune as to demand the greatest
economy to live with any comfort. To such an evil Grahame seemed
insensible; his only wish was to escape from the eye and tongue of the
world. A mistaken view with regard to his child also urged him on. Why
should he expose her to the attentions of the young noblemen so
constantly visiting at Mr. Hamilton's house, when, he felt assured,
however eagerly his alliance would once have been courted, now not one
would unite himself to the sister of a publicly disgraced and privately
dishonoured man? No, it was better for her to be far away; and though
her mild submission to his wishes, notwithstanding the pain he knew it
was to part from her friends at Oakwood, rendered her dearer to him than
ever, still he wavered not in his resolution. The entreaties of Arthur
Myrvin, Emmeline, and Ellen did, however, succeed in persuading him to
fix his place of retirement at Llangwillan, so that all connection would
not be so completely broken between them, as were he to seek some more
distant part of the country. Llangwillan, Arthur urged, was scarcely
known to the world at large, but it was to them, and they might hope
sometimes, to see them; for he, Emmeline, and Ellen would often visit
his father. Grahame consented, to the great joy of his child, who felt
more than himself the force of Myrvin's arguments.
"Mr. Myrvin is such a dear, good, old man, you cannot fail to love him,
Lilla," Ellen said, soothingly, as the day of parting neared. "You must
ask him to show you the little cottage where the first eight weeks of my
residence in England were passed, and make friends with the old widow
and her daughter for my sake; you will find them willing enough to talk
about us and my poor mother, if you once speak on the subject. And my
mother's grave, dear Lilla, you will visit that sometimes, will you not?
and not permit a weed to mingle with the flowers Arthur planted around
it after we left, to distinguish it, he said, from every other grave. It
shall be your charge, dearest Lilla, and Edward and I will thank you for
it; he never goes to Llangwillan without passing an hour of each day by
that little humble mound."
"Edward, does he ever come to Llangwillan?" Lilla suddenly asked, her
tears checked, and every feature expressive of such animated hope, that
Ellen looked at her for a moment in astonishment, and then smilingly
answered in the affirmative. Lilla clasped her hands in sudden joy, and
then, as if ashamed, hid her face, burning with blushes, on Ellen's
hand. Her companion stooped down to kiss her brow, and continued talking
of her brother for some time longer.
From that day Ellen observed Lilla regained her usual animation, her eye
sparkled, and her cheek often flushed, as if from some secret thought;
her spirits only fell at the hour of parting, and Ellen felt assured
they would quickly rise again, and the first packet she received from
Llangwillan confirmed the supposition. Mrs. Hamilton was surprised, but
Ellen was not.
Preparations were now actively making for Herbert's visit to France,
thence to bring home his betrothed. His father and Percy had both
resolved on accompanying him, and Mrs. Hamilton and Emmeline and Arthur
anxiously anticipated the return of their long-absent friends.
A longer time than usual had elapsed between Mary's letters, and
Herbert's anxiety was becoming more and more intense. Two or three of
his letters had remained unanswered; there were no tidings of either
herself or her mother. St. Eval had determined on not visiting Paris
till his return from Switzerland, as his solicitude to arrive at his
journey's end, and commence the prescribed remedies for Caroline would,
he was quite sure, destroy all his pleasure. In vain his wife laughed at
his hurry and his fears; much as he wished to see Mary, he was
determined, and Caroline no farther opposed him. Through them, then,
Herbert could receive no tidings; he had not heard since that event,
which he believed would have been as much joy to Mary as to
himself--his ordination. He struggled with his own anxiety that the
intervening obstacles to his journey should not deprive him of serenity
and trust, but the inward fever was ravaging within. Only one short
week, and then he departed; ere, however, that time came, he received a
letter, and with a sickening feeling of indefinable dread recognised the
handwriting of his Mary. He left the breakfast-parlour to peruse it
alone, and it was long before he returned to his family. They felt
anxious, they knew not why; even Arthur and Emmeline were silent, and
the ever-restless Percy remained leaning over a newspaper, as if
determined not to move till his brother returned. A similar feeling
appeared to detain his father, who did not seek the library as usual.
Ellen appeared earnestly engaged in some communications from Lady
Florence Lyle, and Mrs. Hamilton was perusing a letter from Caroline,
which the same post had brought.
With a sudden spring Percy started from his seat, exclaiming, in a tone
that betrayed unconsciously much internal anxiety--
"What in the world is Herbert about? He cannot have gone out without
bringing us some intelligence. Robert, has Mr. Herbert gone out?" he
called loudly to the servant, who was passing the open window.
"No, sir," was the reply; "he is still in his room."
"Then there will I seek him," he added, impetuously; but he was
prevented by the entrance of Herbert himself, and Percy started from him
in astonishment and alarm.
There was not a particle of colour on his cheek or lips; his eyes
burned as with fever, and his lips quivered as in some unutterable
"Read," he said, in a voice so hoarse and unnatural, it startled even
more than his appearance, and he placed the letter in his father's hand.
"Father, read, and tell them all--I cannot. It is over!" he continued,
sinking on a stool at his mother's feet, and laying his aching head on
her lap. "My beautiful dream is over, and what is the waking?
wretchedness, unutterable wretchedness! My God, my God, Thy hand is
heavy upon me, yet I would submit." He clasped his mother's hands
convulsively in his, he drooped his head upon them, and his slight frame
shook beneath the agony, which for hours he had been struggling to
subdue. Mrs. Hamilton clasped him to her bosom; she endeavoured to speak
words of hope and comfort.
Silence deep and solemn fell over that little party; it was so fearful
to see Herbert thus--the gentle, the self-controlled, the exalted
Herbert thus bowed down even to the earth; he, whose mind ever seemed
raised above this world; he, who to his family was ever a being of a
brighter, holier sphere. If he bent thus beneath the pressure of earthly
sorrow, what must that sorrow be? His family knew the depth of feeling
existing in his breast, which the world around them never could suspect,
and they looked on him and trembled. Myrvin raised him from the arms of
his mother, and bore him to the nearest couch, and Mrs. Hamilton wiped
from his damp brow the starting dew. Tears of alarm and sympathy were
streaming from the eyes of Emmeline, and Myrvin resigned his post to
Percy, to comfort her. But Ellen wept not; pale as Herbert, her features
expressed suffering almost as keen as his, and yet she dared not do as
her heart desired, fly to his side and speak the words that love
dictated. What was her voice to him? _she_ had no power to soothe.
Deep and varied emotions passed rapidly over Mr. Hamilton's countenance
as he read the letter which had caused this misery. Percy could trace
upon his features pity, sorrow, scorn, indignation, almost loathing,
follow one another rapidly and powerfully, and even more violently did
those emotions agitate him when the truth was known.
"It was an old tale, and often told, but that took not from its
bitterness," Mary wrote, from a bed of suffering such as she had never
before endured; for weeks she had been insensible to thought or action,
but she had resolved no one but herself should inform her Herbert of all
that had transpired, no hand but her own should trace her despairing
words. They had lived, as we know, calmly at Paris, so peaceably, that
Mrs. Greville had indulged in brighter hopes for the future than had
ever before engrossed her. Mr. Greville spent much of his time from
home, accompanying, however, his wife and daughter to their evening
amusements, and always remained present when they received company in
return. They lived in a style of more lavish expenditure than Mrs.
Greville at all approved of. Her husband, however, only laughed
good-humouredly whenever she ventured to remonstrate, and told her not
to trouble herself or Mary about such things; they had enough, and he
would take care that sufficiency should not fail. A dim foreboding
crossed Mrs. Greville's mind at these words; but her husband's manner,
though careless, preventing all further expostulation, she was
compelled to suppress, if she could not conquer, her anxiety. At
length, the storm that Mary had long felt was brooding in this unnatural
calm, burst over her, and opened Mrs. Greville's eyes at once.
Among their most constant but least welcome visitors was a Monsieur
Dupont, a man of polished manners certainly, the superficial polish of
the Frenchman, but of no other attraction, and even in that there was
something about him to Mary particularly repulsive. He had seen some
threescore years; his countenance, in general inexpressive, at times
betrayed that strong and evil passions were working at his heart. He was
said to be very rich, though some reports had gone about that his
fortune had all been amassed by gambling in no very honourable manner.
With this man Mr. Greville was continually associated; they were seldom
seen apart, and being thus the favourite of the master, he was
constantly at the house. To Mrs. Greville as to Mary he was an object of
indefinable yet strong aversion, and willingly would they have always
denied themselves, and thus escaped his odious presence. Once they had
done so, but the storm of fury that burst from Mr. Greville intimidated
both; they felt some little concession on their parts was demanded to
preserve peace, and Monsieur Dupont continued his visits.
To this man, publicly known as unprincipled, selfish, incapable of one
exalted or generous feeling, Greville had sworn to give his gentle and
unoffending child; this man he sternly commanded Mary to receive as her
husband, and prepare herself for her marriage within a month.
As if a thunderbolt had fallen, Mary and her mother listened to these
terrible words, and scarcely had the latter sufficient courage to
inform her unpitying husband of their child's engagement with Herbert
Hamilton. For Mary's sake, she struggled and spoke, but her fears were
not without foundation. A horrid imprecation on Mr. Hamilton and his
family burst instantly from the lips of the now infuriated Greville; he
had chosen for many years to fancy himself deeply injured by that
gentleman, and, with an oath too fearful to be written, he solemnly
swore that Mary should never be the wife of Herbert; he would rather see
her dead. Louder and louder grew his passion, but Mrs. Greville heard
him not. Mary had dropped as if lifeless at his feet. She had sprung up
as if to arrest the imprecation on her father's lips, but when his
dreadful oath reached her ears, her senses happily forsook her, and it
was long, very long before she woke to consciousness and thought. Mrs.
Greville hung in agony over the couch of her unhappy child; scarcely
could she pray or wish for her recovery, for she knew there was no hope.
Her husband had let fall hints of being so deeply pledged to Dupont,
that his liberty or perhaps his life depended on his union with Mary,
and could she wish her child to live to be the wife of such a man, yet
could she see her die? What pen can describe the anguish of that fond
mother, as for weeks she watched and tended her senseless child, or the
contending feelings that wrung her heart when Mary woke again to
consciousness and misery, and asked her, in a voice almost inarticulate
from weakness, what had happened--why she was thus? Truth gradually
broke upon her mind, and Mary too soon remembered all. The physician
said she was recovering, that she would quickly be enabled to leave her
bed and go about as usual. Greville swore he would no longer be
prevented seeing her, and Mary made no opposition to his entrance.
Calmly and passively she heard all he had to say; what he told her then
she did not repeat in writing to Herbert. She merely said that she had
implored him to wait till her health was a little more restored; not to
force her to become the wife of Dupont, till she could stand _without
support_ beside the altar, and he had consented.
"Be comforted, then, my beloved Herbert," she wrote, as she concluded
this brief tale of suffering. "They buoy me up with hopes that in a very
few months I shall be as well as ever I was. I smile, for I know the
blight has fallen, and I shall never stand beside an earthly altar; all
I pray is, that death may not linger till my father's patience be
exhausted, and he vent on my poor mother all the reproaches which my
lingering illness will, I know, call forth. Oh, my beloved Herbert,
there are moments when I think the bitterness of death is passed, when I
am so calm, so happy, I feel as if I had already reached the confines of
my blissful, my eternal home; but this is not always granted me. There
are times when I can think only on the happiness I had once hoped to
share with you when heaven itself seemed dimmed by the blessedness I had
anticipated on earth. Herbert, I shall never be another's wife, and it
will not be misery to think of me in heaven. Oh, no, we shall meet there
soon, very soon, never, never more to part. Why does my pen linger?
Alas! it cannot trace the word farewell. Yet why does it so weakly
shrink? 'tis but for a brief space, and we shall meet where that word is
never heard, where sorrow and sighing shall be no more. Farewell, then,
my beloved Herbert, beloved faithfully, unchangeably in death as you
have been in life. I know my last prayer to you is granted ere even it
is spoken: you will protect and think of my poor mother; you will not
permit her to droop and die of a broken heart, with no kind voice to
soothe and cheer. I feel she will in time be happy; and oh, the
unutterable comfort of that confiding trust. Once more, and for the last
time, farewell, my beloved; think only that your Mary is in heaven, that
her spirit, redeemed and blessed, waits for thee near the Saviour's
throne, and be comforted. We shall meet again."
No sound broke the stillness when that sad letter had been perused. Mr.
Hamilton had bowed his head upon his hands, for he could not speak of
comfort; the long years of domestic bliss which had been his portion,
made him feel bitterly the trial which the heart of his son was doomed
to endure. And how was he to aid? Could he seek Greville, and condescend
to use persuasions, arguments to force from him his consent? With
clenched hand and knitted brow Percy stood, his thoughts forcibly drawn
from the sufferers by the bitter indignation he felt towards the
heartless, cruel man who had occasioned all. Mrs. Hamilton could think
only of her son, of Mary, whom she had so long loved as her own child,
and the longing to behold her once again, to speak the words of soothing
and of love, with which her heart felt bursting. Emmeline could only
weep, that such should be the fate of one whom from her childhood she
had loved, and whom she had lately anticipated with so much delight
receiving as a sister. For some minutes Ellen sat in deep and painful
thought, then starting up, she flew to the side of her uncle, and
clasping his hand, entreated--
"Go to Paris, my dear uncle; go yourself, and see this relentless man;
speak with him, know why he has commanded Mary to receive this Dupont as
her husband; perhaps you may render Herbert's claims as valuable in his
eyes. He has no cause of strife with you; he will hear you, I know he
will; his fury was called forth because he thought Herbert stood in the
way of his wishes. Prove to him the happiness, the life of his child, of
yours, depend on their union. He cannot, he will not refuse to hear you.
Oh, do not hesitate, go to him, my dear uncle; all may not be so
desperate as at this distance we may fancy."
"My father may as well plead to the hard flint as to Alfred Greville's
feelings," muttered Percy. "Ellen, you know not what you ask; would you
have my father debase himself to a wretch like that?"
"'Tis Mr. Greville who will be debased, and not my uncle, Percy. The
world might think him humbled to plead to such a man, but they would
think falsely; he is raised above the cringing crowd, who from false
pride would condemn the child of virtue to misery and death, because
they would not bear with the vices of the parent. Were Mary, were Mrs.
Greville in any point otherwise than they are, I would not thus plead,
for there would be no necessity. She could not be so dear to Herbert. I
do not ask my uncle to humble himself; I ask him but to reason with Mr.
Greville, to convince him of his error."
"What says my Herbert?" demanded Mr. Hamilton, gazing with astonishment
on his niece's animated features, and almost wondering at her unwonted
"That she has spoken well, and may God in Heaven bless her for the
thought!" exclaimed Herbert, who had roused himself to listen to her
earnest words, and now, with sudden energy, sprung up. "Father, let us
go. Ellen has spoken justly; he will listen to you, he will not hear my
entreaties unmoved. I have never offended him; he is, indeed, a harsh
and cruel man, one whom I would gladly shun, but the father of Mary. Oh,
let us seek him, for her sake we will plead; he will wake from his
dream, he will know he has been in error. Oh, my father, let us go. She
may yet be saved to live and bless me."
He sunk back on the sofa, and burst into tears. Hope had suddenly sprung
up from the dark void which had been in his heart. Mrs. Hamilton could
not check that suddenly-excited hope, but she did not share it, for she
felt it came but to deceive. She whispered gentle and consoling words,
she spoke of comfort that she could not feel. But once his energies
aroused, they did not fail him. To go instantly to Paris, to seek Mr.
Greville, and plead his own cause, aided by his father's influence,
acknowledge he had been wrong in not asking his consent before, such
thoughts now alone occupied his mind, and Mr. Hamilton could not check
them, though, even as his wife, he shared not his son's sanguine
expectations. That he had once possessed more influence than any one
else over Mr. Greville he well knew; but he thought with Percy, the
dislike felt towards him originated from this, and that it was more than
probable he would remain firm in his refusal to triumph over both
himself and his son; yet he could not hesitate to comply with Herbert's
wishes. Ellen's suggestion had roused him to exertion, and he should not
be permitted to sink back into despondency, at least they should meet.
It would be difficult to define Ellen's feelings as she beheld her
work, and marked the effect of her words upon her cousin. Not a particle
of selfishness mingled in her feelings, but that deep pang was yet
unconquered. Herbert's manner to her was even kinder, more affectionate
than usual, during the few days that intervened ere they parted, as if
he felt that she had drawn aside the dark veil of impenetrable gloom,
and summoned hope to rise again; and could she see or feel this unmoved?
Still was she calm and tranquil, and she would speak of Mary and of
brighter hopes, and no emotion was betrayed in her pale cheek or in that
Percy accompanied his father and brother. They travelled rapidly, and a
favourable voyage enabled them to reach Paris in a shorter time than
usual. Mr. Hamilton had insisted on seeking Mr. Greville's mansion at
first alone, and Percy controlled his own feelings. To calm the strong
emotion, the deep anxiety, that now he was indeed in the same city as
his Mary, almost overpowered Herbert; the struggle for composure, for
resignation to whatever might be the will of his God, was too powerful
for his exhausted strength. Sleep had only visited him by snatches,
short and troubled, since he had received Mary's letter; the long
interval which elapsed ere Mr. Hamilton returned was productive of even
keener suffering than he had yet endured. Hope had sunk powerless before
anxiety; the strength of mind which had borne him up so long was giving
way beneath the exhaustion of bodily powers, which Percy saw with alarm
and sorrow; his eyes had lost their lustre, and were becoming dim and
haggard; more than once he observed a slight shudder pass through his
frame, and felt his words of cheering and of comfort fell unheeded on
his brother's ear. At length Mr. Hamilton returned.
"She lives, my son," were the first words he uttered, but his tone was
not joyful; "our beloved and gentle Mary yet lives, and soon, very soon
you shall meet, not to part on earth again."
Herbert gazed wildly in his face, he clasped his hands convulsively, and
then he bowed his head in a deep and fervent burst of thanksgiving.
"And Greville," said Percy, impatiently, "has he so soon consented?
father, you have not descended to entreaties, and to such a man?"
"Percy, peace," said his father, gravely. "With Mr. Greville I have
enchanged no words. Thank God, I sought not his house with any hostile
intention, with any irritation urging me against him. Percy, he is dead,
and let his faults die with him."
"Dead!" repeated the young man, shocked and astonished, and Herbert
started up. His lip quivered with the vain effort to ask an explanation.
It was even so, that very morning Greville had breathed his last, with
all his sins upon his head, for no time had been allowed him either for
repentance or atonement. A few days after Mary had written to Herbert,
her father had been brought home senseless, and dreadfully injured, by a
fall from his horse. His constitution, shattered by intemperance and
continued dissipation, was not proof against the fever that ensued;
delirium never left him. For five days Mrs. Greville and Mary watched
over his couch. His ravings were dreadful; he would speak of Dupont, at
one time, with imprecations; at others, as if imploring him to forbear.
He would entreat his child to forgive him; and then, with fearful
convulsions, appear struggling with the effort to drag her to the altar.
Mary heard, and her slight frame shook and withered each day faster than
the last, but she moved not from her father's side. In vain Mrs.
Greville watched for some returning consciousness, for some sign to say
he died in peace. Alas! there was none. He expired in convulsions; and
scarcely had his wife and child recovered the awful scene, when the
entrance of the hated Dupont roused them to exertion. He came to claim
Mary as his promised wife, or send them forth as beggars. The house and
all that it contained, even to their jewels, were his; for Greville had
died, owing him debts to an amount which even the sale of all they
possessed could not entirely repay. He had it in his power to arrest the
burial of the scarcely cold corpse, to stain the name of the dead with
undying infamy; and he vowed that he would use his power to its utmost
extent, if Mary's consent were not instantly given. Four-and-twenty
hours he gave her to decide, and departed, leaving inexpressible
wretchedness behind him, on the part of Mrs. Greville, and the calm
stupor of exhaustion and despair pervading Mary's every faculty.
"My child, my child, it shall not be; you shall not be that heartless
villain's wife. I have health; I can work, teach, do anything to support
us, and why, oh, why should you be thus sacrificed? Mary, Mary, you will
live, my child, to bless your desolate and wretched mother. Oh, my God,
my God, why hast thou thus forsaken me? I have trusted in thee, and wilt
thou thus fail me? To whom can I appeal--what friend have I near me?"
"Mother, do not speak thus," exclaimed Mary, roused from the lethargy
of exhaustion by her mother's despairing words, and she flung herself on
her knees beside her, and threw her arms around her. "Mother, my own
mother, the God of the widow and the fatherless is still our friend; He
hath not forsaken us, though for a time His countenance is darkened
towards us. Oh, he will have mercy; He will raise us up a friend--I
feel, I know He will. He will relieve us. Let us but trust in Him,
mother; let us not fail now. Oh, let us pray to Him, and He will
The eyes of the good and gentle girl were lit up with sudden radiance.
Her pallid cheek was faintly flushed; her whole countenance and tone
expressed the enthusiasm, the holiness which had characterised her whole
life. Mrs. Greville clasped her faded form convulsively to her aching
bosom, and, drooping her head, wept long and freely.
"Father, I have sinned," she murmured; "oh, have mercy."
An hour passed, and neither Mary nor her mother moved from that posture
of affliction, yet of prayer. They heard not the sound of many voices
below, nor a rapid footstep on the stairs. The opening of the door
aroused them, but Mary looked not up; she clung closer to her mother,
for she feared to gaze again on Dupont. A wild exclamation of joy, of
thanksgiving, bursting from Mrs. Greville's lips startled her; for a
moment she trembled, yet she could not be mistaken, that tone was joy.
Slowly she looked on the intruder. Wildly she sprung up--she clasped her
"My God, I thank thee, we are saved!" broke from her parched lips, and
she sunk senseless at Mr. Hamilton's feet.
Emissaries of wickedness were not wanting to convey the intelligence
very quickly to Dupont's ear, that Mrs. and Miss Greville had departed
from the Rue Royale, under the protection of an English gentleman, who
had stationed two of his servants at their house to protect Mr.
Greville's body from insult, and give him information of all that took
place during his absence. Furiously enraged, Dupont hastened to know the
truth of these reports, and a scene of fierce altercation took place
between him and Mr. Hamilton. The calm, steady firmness of his
unexpected opponent daunted Dupont as much as his cool sarcastic
bitterness galled him to the quick. The character of the man was known;
he was convinced he dared not bring down shame on the memory of
Greville, without inculpating himself, without irretrievably injuring
his own character, and however he might use that threat as his weapon to
compel Mary's submission, Mr. Hamilton was perfectly easy on that head.
Dupont's cowardly nature very soon evinced itself. A few words from Mr.
Hamilton convinced him that his true character had been penetrated, and
dreading exposure, he changed his ground and his tone, acknowledged he
had been too violent, but that his admiration for Miss Greville had been
the sole cause; expressed deep sorrow for Mr. Greville's melancholy end,
disavowed all intention of preventing the interment of the body, and
finally consented to liquidate all debts, save those which the sale of
the house and furniture might suffice to discharge.
Scarcely could Mr. Hamilton command his indignation during this
interview, or listen to Dupont's professions, excuses, defences, and
concessions, without losing temper. He would not consent to be under any
obligation: if M. Dupont could _prove_ that more was owing than that
which he had consented to receive, it should be paid directly, but he
should institute inquiries as to the legality of his claims, and
carefully examine all the papers of the deceased.
"It was not at all necessary," Dupont replied. "The sum he demanded was
due for debts of honour, which he had a slip of paper in Greville's own
handwriting to prove."
Mr. Hamilton made no further reply, and they parted with nothing decided
on either side, Dupont only repeating his extreme distress at having
caused Miss Greville so much unnecessary pain; that had he known she was
engaged to another, he would never have persisted in his suit, and
deeply regretted he had been so deceived.
Mr. Hamilton heard him with an unchanging countenance, and gravely and
formally bowed him out of the house. He then placed his seal on the lock
of a small cabinet, which Mrs. Greville's one faithful English servant
informed him contained all his master's private papers, dismissed the
French domestics, and charging the Englishmen to be careful in their
watch that no strangers should be admitted, he hastened to impart to his
anxiously-expecting sons all the important business he had transacted.
Early the following morning Mr. Hamilton received intelligence which
very much annoyed and startled him. Notwithstanding the vigilant watch
of the three Englishmen stationed at Mr. Greville's house, the cabinet,
which contained all his private papers, was gone. The men declared
again and again, no one could have entered the house without their
knowledge, or removed such a thing as that without some noise. Mr.
Hamilton went instantly with them to the house; how it had been taken he
could not discover, but it was so small that Mr. Hamilton felt it could
easily have been removed; and he had no doubt that Dupont had bribed one
of the dismissed servants, who was well acquainted with every secret of
the house, to purloin it for him, and Dupont he instantly determined on
charging with the atrocious theft. Dupont, however, had decamped, he was
nowhere to be found; but he had desired an agent to receive from Mr.
Hamilton's hands the payment of the debts he still claimed, and from
this man it was endeavoured by many questions to discover some traces of
his employer, but all in vain. M. Dupont had left Paris, he said, the
Mr. Hamilton was not satisfied, and, consequently, seeking an able
solicitor, put the affair into his hands, and desired that he would use
every means in his power to obtain the restoration of the papers. That
Dupont had it in his power farther to injure the widow and child of the
deceased he did not believe; he rather thought that his extreme desire
to obtain them proceeded from a consciousness that they betrayed some of
his own evil deeds, yet he could not feel easy till they were either
regained, or he knew that they were destroyed. Mrs. Greville earnestly
wished their recovery, for she feared they might, through the similarity
of names, bring some evil on her son, towards whom her fond heart yet
painfully yearned, though years had passed since she had seen, and many
weary months since she had heard of him. Her fears on this head
rendered both Mr. Hamilton and Percy still more active in their
proceedings, and both determined on remaining at Paris even after
Herbert and Mrs. Greville, with Mary, had left for England.
And what did Herbert feel as he looked on the fearful change in her he
loved? Not yet did he think that she must die; that beaming eye, that
radiant cheek, that soft, sweet smile--oh, could such things tell of
death to him who loved? He held her to his heart, and only knew that he
And Mary, she was happy; the past seemed as a dim and troubled vision;
the smile of him she loved was ever near her, his low sweet voice was
sounding in her ear. A calm had stolen over her, a holy soothing calm.
She did not speak her thoughts to Herbert, for she saw that he still
hoped on; they were together, and the present was enough. But silently
she prayed that his mind might be so prepared, so chastened, that when
his eyes were opened, the truth might not be so terrible to bear.
It was indeed a day of happiness that beheld the arrival of Mrs.
Greville and Mary at Oakwood, unalloyed to them, but not so, alas! to
those who received them. Mrs. Hamilton pressed the faded form of Mary to
her heart, she kissed her repeatedly, but it was long before she could
speak the words of greeting; she looked on her and on her son, and tears
rose so thick and fast, she was compelled to turn away to hide them.
Ellen alone retained her calmness. In the fond embrace that had passed
between her and Mary, it is true her lip had quivered and her cheek had
paled, but her agitation passed unnoticed.
"It was _her_ voice, my Mary, that roused me to exertion, it was her
representations that bade me not despair," whispered Herbert, as he hung
over Mary's couch that evening, and perceived Ellen busily employed in
arranging her pillows. "When, overwhelmed by the deep misery occasioned
by your letter, I had no power to act, it was her ready thought that
dictated to my father the course he so successfully pursued." Mary
pressed the hand of Ellen within both her own, and looked up gratefully
in her face. A faint smile played round the orphan's lips, but she made
no observation in reply.
A very few weeks elapsed before the dreaded truth forced itself upon the
minds of all, even on her mother, that Mary was sinking, surely sinking,
there was no longer hope. Devotedly as her friends loved her, they could
not sorrow, before her they could not weep. She was spared all bodily
suffering save that proceeding from debility, so extreme she could not
walk across the room without assistance. No pain distorted the
expression of her features, which, in this hour of approaching death,
looked more lovely than they had ever seemed before; her soft blue eye
beamed at times with a celestial light, and her fair hair shaded a brow
and cheek so transparent, every blue vein could be clearly seen. One
thought alone gave her pain, her Herbert she felt was still unprepared.
He was speaking one day of the future, anticipating the time when the
Rectory would receive her as its gentle mistress, and of the many things
which occupied his thoughts for the furtherance of her comfort, when
Mary laid her hand gently on his arm, and, with a smile of peculiar
"Do not think any more of such things, my beloved; the mansion which
will behold our blessed union is already furnished and prepared; I may
seek it first, but it will be but to render it even yet more desirable
Herbert looked on her face to read the meaning of her words; he read
them, alas! too plainly, but voice utterly failed.
"Look not on me thus," she continued, in that same pleading and soothing
tone. "Our mansion is prepared for us above; below, my Herbert, oh,
think not it will ever receive me. Why should I hesitate to speak the
truth? The blessed Saviour, to whose arms I so soon shall go, will give
you strength to bear this; He hath promised that He will, my own
Herbert, my first, my only love. My Saviour calls me, and to Him, oh,
can you not without tears resign me?"
"Mary," murmured the unhappy Herbert, "Mary, oh, do not, do not torture
me. You will not die; you will not leave me desolate."
"I shall not die, but live, my beloved--live, oh, in such blessedness!
'tis but a brief, brief parting, Herbert, to meet and love eternally."
"You are ill, you are weak, my own Mary, and thus death is ever present
to your mind; but you will recover, oh, I know, I feel you will. My God
will hear my prayers."
"And He will grant them, Herbert--oh, doubt Him not, grant them, even in
my removal. He takes me not from you, my Herbert, He but places me,
where to seek me, you must look to and love but Him alone; and will you
shrink from this? Will that spirit, vowed to His service from your
earliest boyhood, now murmur at His will? Oh, no, no; my Herbert will
yet support and strengthen his Mary, I know, I feel he will. Forgive me
if I have pained you, my best love; but I could bear no other lips than
mine to tell you, that on earth I may not live--but a brief space more,
and I shall be called away. You must not mourn for me, my Herbert; I die
so happy, oh, so very happy!"
Herbert had sunk on his knees beside her couch; he drooped his head upon
his hands, and a strong convulsion shook his frame. He uttered no sound,
he spoke no word, but Mary could read the overwhelming anguish that
bowed his spirit to the earth. The words were spoken; he knew that she
must die, and Mary raised her mild eyes to heaven, and clasped her hands
in earnest prayer for him. "Forsake him not now, oh God; support him
now; oh, give him strength to meet Thy will," was the import of her
prayer. Long was that deep, deep stillness, but when Herbert looked up
again he was calm.
"May God in heaven bless you, my beloved," he said, and imprinted a long
fervent kiss upon her forehead. "You have taught me my Saviour's will,
and I will meet it. May He forgive--" His words failed him; again he
held her to his heart, and then he sat by her side and read from the
Book of Life, of peace, of comfort, those passages which might calm this
anguish and strengthen her; he read till sleep closed the eyes of his
beloved. Yes, she was the idol of his young affections; he felt her
words were true, and when she was gone there would be naught to bind his
spirit to this world.
It would be needless to lift the veil from Herbert's moments of
solitary prayer. Those who have followed him through his boyhood and
traced his character need no description of his feelings. We know the
intensity of his earthly affections, the strength and force of his every
emotion, the depth and holiness of his spiritual sentiments, and vain
then would be the attempt to portray his private moments in this dread
trial: yet before his family he was calm, before his Mary cheerful. She
felt her prayers were heard, he was, he would be yet more supported, and
her last pang was soothed.
Mr. Hamilton had returned from France, unsuccessful, however, in his
wish to obtain the restitution of Greville's papers. Dupont had
concealed his measures so artfully, and with such efficacy, that no
traces were discovered regarding him, and Mr. Hamilton felt it was no
use to remain himself, confident in the integrity and abilities of the
solicitor to whom he had intrusted the whole affair; he was
unaccompanied, however, by Percy, who, as his sister's wedding was, from
Mary's illness, postponed, determined on paying Lord and Lady St. Eval a
visit at Geneva.
As Emmeline's engagement with Arthur very frequently engrossed her time,
Ellen had devoted herself assiduously as Mary's constant nurse, and well
and tenderly she performed her office. There was no selfishness in her
feelings, deeply, unfeignedly she sorrowed, and willingly, gladly would
she have laid down her life to preserve Mary's, that this fearful trial
might be removed from Herbert. To spare him one pang, oh, what would she
not have endured. Controlled and calm, who could have guessed the chaos
of contending feeling that was passing within; who, that had seen the
gentle smile with which she would receive Herbert's impassioned thanks
for her care of his Mary, could have suspected the thrill, the pang
those simple words occasioned. Mary alone of those around her, except
Mrs. Hamilton, was not deceived. She loved Ellen, had long done so, and
the affectionate attention she so constantly received from her had drawn
the bonds of friendship closer. She felt convinced she was not happy,
that there was something heavy on her mind, and the quick intellect of a
vivid fancy and loving nature guessed the truth. Her wish to see her
happy became so powerful, that she could not control it. She fancied
that Ellen might be herself deceived, and that the object of her
affections once known, all difficulties would be smoothed. The idea that
her last act might be to secure the happiness of Ellen, was so soothing
to her grateful and affectionate feelings, that, after dwelling on it
some time, she took the first opportunity of being alone with her friend
to seek her confidence.
"No, dearest, do not read to me," she said, one evening, in answer to
Ellen's question. "I would rather talk with you; do not look anxious, I
will not fatigue myself. Come, and sit by me, dear Ellen, it is of you
that I would speak."
"Of me?" repeated Ellen, surprised. "Nay, dearest Mary, can you not find
a more interesting subject?"
"No, love, for you are often in my thoughts; the approach of death has,
I think, sharpened every faculty, for I see and read trifles clearer
than I ever did before; and I can read through all that calm control and
constant smile that you are not happy, my kind Ellen; and will you think
me a rude intruder on your thoughts if I ask you why?"
"Do you not remember, Mary, I was ever unlike others?" replied Ellen,
shrinking from her penetrating gaze. "I never knew what it was to be
lively and joyous even as a child, and as years increase, is it likely
that I should? I am contented with my lot, and with so many blessings
around, should I not be ungrateful were I otherwise?"
"You evade my question, Ellen, and convince me more and more that I am
right. Ah, you know not how my last hour would be soothed, could I feel
that I had done aught to restore happiness to one who has been to me the
blessing you have been, dear Ellen."
"Think not of it, dearest Mary," said Ellen. "I ought to be happy, very
happy, and if I am not, it is my own wayward temper. You cannot give me
happiness, Mary; do not let the thought of me disturb you, dearest, kind
as is your wish, it is unavailing."
"Do not say so, Ellen; we are apt to look on sorrow, while it is
confined to our own anxious breasts, as incurable and lasting; but when
once it is confessed, how quickly do difficulties vanish, and the grief
is often gone before we are aware it is departing. Do not, dearest,
magnify it by the encouragement which solitary thought bestows."
"Are there not some sorrows, Mary, which are better ever concealed? Does
not the opening of a wound often make it bleed afresh, whereas, hidden
in our own heart, it remains closed till time has healed it."
"Some there are," said Mary, "which are indeed irremediable, but"--she
paused a moment, then slightly raising herself on her couch, she threw
her arm round Ellen's neck, and said, in a low yet deeply expressive
voice--"is your love, indeed, so hopeless, my poor Ellen? Oh, no, it
cannot be; surely, there is not one whom you have known sufficiently to
give your precious love, can look on you and not return it."
Ellen started, a deep and painful flush rose for a moment to her cheek,
she struggled to speak calmly, to deny the truth of Mary's suspicion,
but she could not, the secret of her heart was too suddenly exposed
before her, and she burst into tears. How quickly will a word, a tone
destroy the well-maintained calmness of years; how strangely and
suddenly will the voice of sympathy lift from the heart its veil.
"You have penetrated my secret," she said, and her voice faltered, "and
I will not deny it; but oh, Mary, let us speak no more of it. When a
woman is weak enough to bestow her affections on one who never sought,
who will never seek them, surely the more darkly they are hidden, the
better for her own peace as well as character. My love was not called
for. I never had aught to hope; and if that unrequited affection be the
destroyer of my happiness, it has sprung from my own weakness, and I
alone have but to bear it."
"But is there no hope, Ellen--none? Do not think so, dearest. If his
affections be still disengaged, is there not hope they may one day be
"No, Mary, none. I knew his affections were engaged; I knew he never
could be mine, and yet I loved him. Oh, Mary, do not scorn my weakness;
you have wrung my secret from me, do not, oh, do not betray me. There is
no shame in loving one so good, so holy, and yet--and yet--Mary, dearest
Mary, promise me you will not speak it--I cannot rest unless you do; let
it pass your lips to _none_."
"It shall not, my Ellen; be calm, your secret shall die with me,
dearest," replied Mary, earnestly, for Ellen's feelings completely
overpowered her, and bursting sobs choked her utterance.
"For me there is no hope. Oh, could I but see him happy, I should ask no
more; but, oh, to see him miserable, and feel I have no power to
soothe--when--" She paused abruptly, again the burning blood dyed her
cheeks, even her temples with crimson. Mary's eyes were fixed upon her
in sympathy, in love; Ellen fancied in surprise, yet suspicion. With one
powerful effort she conquered herself, she forced back the scalding
tears, the convulsive sob, and bending over Mary, pressed her trembling
lips upon her pale brow.
"Let us speak no more of this, dearest Mary," she said, in a low calm
voice. "May God bless you for your intended kindness. It is over now.
Forgive me, dearest Mary, I have agitated and disturbed you."