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The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

Part 3 out of 16

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attentions of the abbess and the nuns, were circumstances so soothing
to her mind, that they almost tempted her to leave a world, where she
had lost her dearest friends, and devote herself to the cloister, in
a spot, rendered sacred to her by containing the tomb of St. Aubert.
The pensive enthusiasm, too, so natural to her temper, had spread a
beautiful illusion over the sanctified retirement of a nun, that
almost hid from her view the selfishness of its security. But the
touches, which a melancholy fancy, slightly tinctured with
superstition, gave to the monastic scene, began to fade, as her
spirits revived, and brought once more to her heart an image, which
had only transiently been banished thence. By this she was silently
awakened to hope and comfort and sweet affections; visions of
happiness gleamed faintly at a distance, and, though she knew them to
be illusions, she could not resolve to shut them out for ever. It
was the remembrance of Valancourt, of his taste, his genius, and of
the countenance which glowed with both, that, perhaps, alone
determined her to return to the world. The grandeur and sublimity of
the scenes, amidst which they had first met, had fascinated her
fancy, and had imperceptibly contributed to render Valancourt more
interesting by seeming to communicate to him somewhat of their own
character. The esteem, too, which St. Aubert had repeatedly
expressed for him, sanctioned this kindness; but, though his
countenance and manner had continually expressed his admiration of
her, he had not otherwise declared it; and even the hope of seeing
him again was so distant, that she was scarcely conscious of it,
still less that it influenced her conduct on this occasion.

It was several days after the arrival of Madame Cheron's servant
before Emily was sufficiently recovered to undertake the journey to
La Vallee. On the evening preceding her departure, she went to the
cottage to take leave of La Voisin and his family, and to make them a
return for their kindness. The old man she found sitting on a bench
at his door, between his daughter, and his son-in-law, who was just
returned from his daily labour, and who was playing upon a pipe,
that, in tone, resembled an oboe. A flask of wine stood beside the
old man, and, before him, a small table with fruit and bread, round
which stood several of his grandsons, fine rosy children, who were
taking their supper, as their mother distributed it. On the edge of
the little green, that spread before the cottage, were cattle and a
few sheep reposing under the trees. The landscape was touched with
the mellow light of the evening sun, whose long slanting beams played
through a vista of the woods, and lighted up the distant turrets of
the chateau. She paused a moment, before she emerged from the shade,
to gaze upon the happy group before her--on the complacency and ease
of healthy age, depictured on the countenance of La Voisin; the
maternal tenderness of Agnes, as she looked upon her children, and
the innocency of infantine pleasures, reflected in their smiles.
Emily looked again at the venerable old man, and at the cottage; the
memory of her father rose with full force upon her mind, and she
hastily stepped forward, afraid to trust herself with a longer pause.
She took an affectionate and affecting leave of La Voisin and his
family; he seemed to love her as his daughter, and shed tears; Emily
shed many. She avoided going into the cottage, since she knew it
would revive emotions, such as she could not now endure.

One painful scene yet awaited her, for she determined to visit again
her father's grave; and that she might not be interrupted, or
observed in the indulgence of her melancholy tenderness, she deferred
her visit, till every inhabitant of the convent, except the nun who
promised to bring her the key of the church, should be retired to
rest. Emily remained in her chamber, till she heard the convent bell
strike twelve, when the nun came, as she had appointed, with the key
of a private door, that opened into the church, and they descended
together the narrow winding stair-case, that led thither. The nun
offered to accompany Emily to the grave, adding, 'It is melancholy to
go alone at this hour;' but the former, thanking her for the
consideration, could not consent to have any witness of her sorrow;
and the sister, having unlocked the door, gave her the lamp. 'You
will remember, sister,' said she, 'that in the east aisle, which you
must pass, is a newly opened grave; hold the light to the ground,
that you may not stumble over the loose earth.' Emily, thanking her
again, took the lamp, and, stepping into the church, sister Mariette
departed. But Emily paused a moment at the door; a sudden fear came
over her, and she returned to the foot of the stair-case, where, as
she heard the steps of the nun ascending, and, while she held up the
lamp, saw her black veil waving over the spiral balusters, she was
tempted to call her back. While she hesitated, the veil disappeared,
and, in the next moment, ashamed of her fears, she returned to the
church. The cold air of the aisles chilled her, and their deep
silence and extent, feebly shone upon by the moon-light, that
streamed through a distant gothic window, would at any other time
have awed her into superstition; now, grief occupied all her
attention. She scarcely heard the whispering echoes of her own
steps, or thought of the open grave, till she found herself almost on
its brink. A friar of the convent had been buried there on the
preceding evening, and, as she had sat alone in her chamber at
twilight, she heard, at distance, the monks chanting the requiem for
his soul. This brought freshly to her memory the circumstances of
her father's death; and, as the voices, mingling with a low querulous
peal of the organ, swelled faintly, gloomy and affecting visions had
arisen upon her mind. Now she remembered them, and, turning aside to
avoid the broken ground, these recollections made her pass on with
quicker steps to the grave of St. Aubert, when in the moon-light,
that fell athwart a remote part of the aisle, she thought she saw a
shadow gliding between the pillars. She stopped to listen, and, not
hearing any footstep, believed that her fancy had deceived her, and,
no longer apprehensive of being observed, proceeded. St. Aubert was
buried beneath a plain marble, bearing little more than his name and
the date of his birth and death, near the foot of the stately
monument of the Villerois. Emily remained at his grave, till a
chime, that called the monks to early prayers, warned her to retire;
then, she wept over it a last farewel, and forced herself from the
spot. After this hour of melancholy indulgence, she was refreshed by
a deeper sleep, than she had experienced for a long time, and, on
awakening, her mind was more tranquil and resigned, than it had been
since St. Aubert's death.

But, when the moment of her departure from the convent arrived, all
her grief returned; the memory of the dead, and the kindness of the
living attached her to the place; and for the sacred spot, where her
father's remains were interred, she seemed to feel all those tender
affections which we conceive for home. The abbess repeated many kind
assurances of regard at their parting, and pressed her to return, if
ever she should find her condition elsewhere unpleasant; many of the
nuns also expressed unaffected regret at her departure, and Emily
left the convent with many tears, and followed by sincere wishes for
her happiness.

She had travelled several leagues, before the scenes of the country,
through which she passed, had power to rouse her for a moment from
the deep melancholy, into which she was sunk, and, when they did, it
was only to remind her, that, on her last view of them, St. Aubert
was at her side, and to call up to her remembrance the remarks he had
delivered on similar scenery. Thus, without any particular
occurrence, passed the day in languor and dejection. She slept that
night in a town on the skirts of Languedoc, and, on the following
morning, entered Gascony.

Towards the close of this day, Emily came within view of the plains
in the neighbourhood of La Vallee, and the well-known objects of
former times began to press upon her notice, and with them
recollections, that awakened all her tenderness and grief. Often,
while she looked through her tears upon the wild grandeur of the
Pyrenees, now varied with the rich lights and shadows of evening, she
remembered, that, when last she saw them, her father partook with her
of the pleasure they inspired. Suddenly some scene, which he had
particularly pointed out to her, would present itself, and the sick
languor of despair would steal upon her heart. 'There!' she would
exclaim, 'there are the very cliffs, there the wood of pines, which
he looked at with such delight, as we passed this road together for
the last time. There, too, under the crag of that mountain, is the
cottage, peeping from among the cedars, which he bade me remember,
and copy with my pencil. O my father, shall I never see you more!'

As she drew near the chateau, these melancholy memorials of past
times multiplied. At length, the chateau itself appeared, amid the
glowing beauty of St. Aubert's favourite landscape. This was an
object, which called for fortitude, not for tears; Emily dried hers,
and prepared to meet with calmness the trying moment of her return to
that home, where there was no longer a parent to welcome her. 'Yes,'
said she, 'let me not forget the lessons he has taught me! How often
he has pointed out the necessity of resisting even virtuous sorrow;
how often we have admired together the greatness of a mind, that can
at once suffer and reason! O my father! if you are permitted to look
down upon your child, it will please you to see, that she remembers,
and endeavours to practise, the precepts you have given her.'

A turn on the road now allowed a nearer view of the chateau, the
chimneys, tipped with light, rising from behind St. Aubert's
favourite oaks, whose foliage partly concealed the lower part of the
building. Emily could not suppress a heavy sigh. 'This, too, was
his favourite hour,' said she, as she gazed upon the long evening
shadows, stretched athwart the landscape. 'How deep the repose, how
lovely the scene! lovely and tranquil as in former days!'

Again she resisted the pressure of sorrow, till her ear caught the
gay melody of the dance, which she had so often listened to, as she
walked with St. Aubert, on the margin of the Garonne, when all her
fortitude forsook her, and she continued to weep, till the carriage
stopped at the little gate, that opened upon what was now her own
territory. She raised her eyes on the sudden stopping of the
carriage, and saw her father's old housekeeper coming to open the
gate. Manchon also came running, and barking before her; and when
his young mistress alighted, fawned, and played round her, gasping
with joy.

'Dear ma'amselle!' said Theresa, and paused, and looked as if she
would have offered something of condolement to Emily, whose tears now
prevented reply. The dog still fawned and ran round her, and then
flew towards the carriage, with a short quick bark. 'Ah,
ma'amselle!--my poor master!' said Theresa, whose feelings were more
awakened than her delicacy, 'Manchon's gone to look for him.' Emily
sobbed aloud; and, on looking towards the carriage, which still stood
with the door open, saw the animal spring into it, and instantly leap
out, and then with his nose on the ground run round the horses.

'Don't cry so, ma'amselle,' said Theresa, 'it breaks my heart to see
you.' The dog now came running to Emily, then returned to the
carriage, and then back again to her, whining and discontented.
'Poor rogue!' said Theresa, 'thou hast lost thy master, thou mayst
well cry! But come, my dear young lady, be comforted. What shall I
get to refresh you?' Emily gave her hand to the old servant, and
tried to restrain her grief, while she made some kind enquiries
concerning her health. But she still lingered in the walk which led
to the chateau, for within was no person to meet her with the kiss of
affection; her own heart no longer palpitated with impatient joy to
meet again the well-known smile, and she dreaded to see objects,
which would recall the full remembrance of her former happiness. She
moved slowly towards the door, paused, went on, and paused again.
How silent, how forsaken, how forlorn did the chateau appear!
Trembling to enter it, yet blaming herself for delaying what she
could not avoid, she, at length, passed into the hall; crossed it
with a hurried step, as if afraid to look round, and opened the door
of that room, which she was wont to call her own. The gloom of
evening gave solemnity to its silent and deserted air. The chairs,
the tables, every article of furniture, so familiar to her in happier
times, spoke eloquently to her heart. She seated herself, without
immediately observing it, in a window, which opened upon the garden,
and where St. Aubert had often sat with her, watching the sun retire
from the rich and extensive prospect, that appeared beyond the

Having indulged her tears for some time, she became more composed;
and, when Theresa, after seeing the baggage deposited in her lady's
room, again appeared, she had so far recovered her spirits, as to be
able to converse with her.

'I have made up the green bed for you, ma'amselle,' said Theresa, as
she set the coffee upon the table. 'I thought you would like it
better than your own now; but I little thought this day month, that
you would come back alone. A-well-a-day! the news almost broke my
heart, when it did come. Who would have believed, that my poor
master, when he went from home, would never return again!' Emily hid
her face with her handkerchief, and waved her hand.

'Do taste the coffee,' said Theresa. 'My dear young lady, be
comforted--we must all die. My dear master is a saint above.' Emily
took the handkerchief from her face, and raised her eyes full of
tears towards heaven; soon after she dried them, and, in a calm, but
tremulous voice, began to enquire concerning some of her late
father's pensioners.

'Alas-a-day!' said Theresa, as she poured out the coffee, and handed
it to her mistress, 'all that could come, have been here every day to
enquire after you and my master.' She then proceeded to tell, that
some were dead whom they had left well; and others, who were ill, had
recovered. 'And see, ma'amselle,' added Theresa, 'there is old Mary
coming up the garden now; she has looked every day these three years
as if she would die, yet she is alive still. She has seen the chaise
at the door, and knows you are come home.'

The sight of this poor old woman would have been too much for Emily,
and she begged Theresa would go and tell her, that she was too ill to
see any person that night. 'To-morrow I shall be better, perhaps;
but give her this token of my remembrance.'

Emily sat for some time, given up to sorrow. Not an object, on which
her eye glanced, but awakened some remembrance, that led immediately
to the subject of her grief. Her favourite plants, which St. Aubert
had taught her to nurse; the little drawings, that adorned the room,
which his taste had instructed her to execute; the books, that he had
selected for her use, and which they had read together; her musical
instruments, whose sounds he loved so well, and which he sometimes
awakened himself--every object gave new force to sorrow. At length,
she roused herself from this melancholy indulgence, and, summoning
all her resolution, stepped forward to go into those forlorn rooms,
which, though she dreaded to enter, she knew would yet more
powerfully affect her, if she delayed to visit them.

Having passed through the green-house, her courage for a moment
forsook her, when she opened the door of the library; and, perhaps,
the shade, which evening and the foliage of the trees near the
windows threw across the room, heightened the solemnity of her
feelings on entering that apartment, where every thing spoke of her
father. There was an arm chair, in which he used to sit; she shrunk
when she observed it, for she had so often seen him seated there, and
the idea of him rose so distinctly to her mind, that she almost
fancied she saw him before her. But she checked the illusions of a
distempered imagination, though she could not subdue a certain degree
of awe, which now mingled with her emotions. She walked slowly to
the chair, and seated herself in it; there was a reading-desk before
it, on which lay a book open, as it had been left by her father. It
was some moments before she recovered courage enough to examine it;
and, when she looked at the open page, she immediately recollected,
that St. Aubert, on the evening before his departure from the
chateau, had read to her some passages from this his favourite
author. The circumstance now affected her extremely; she looked at
the page, wept, and looked again. To her the book appeared sacred
and invaluable, and she would not have moved it, or closed the page,
which he had left open, for the treasures of the Indies. Still she
sat before the desk, and could not resolve to quit it, though the
increasing gloom, and the profound silence of the apartment, revived
a degree of painful awe. Her thoughts dwelt on the probable state of
departed spirits, and she remembered the affecting conversation,
which had passed between St. Aubert and La Voisin, on the night
preceding his death.

As she mused she saw the door slowly open, and a rustling sound in a
remote part of the room startled her. Through the dusk she thought
she perceived something move. The subject she had been considering,
and the present tone of her spirits, which made her imagination
respond to every impression of her senses, gave her a sudden terror
of something supernatural. She sat for a moment motionless, and
then, her dissipated reason returning, 'What should I fear?' said
she. 'If the spirits of those we love ever return to us, it is in

The silence, which again reigned, made her ashamed of her late fears,
and she believed, that her imagination had deluded her, or that she
had heard one of those unaccountable noises, which sometimes occur in
old houses. The same sound, however, returned; and, distinguishing
something moving towards her, and in the next instant press beside
her into the chair, she shrieked; but her fleeting senses were
instantly recalled, on perceiving that it was Manchon who sat by her,
and who now licked her hands affectionately.

Perceiving her spirits unequal to the task she had assigned herself
of visiting the deserted rooms of the chateau this night, when she
left the library, she walked into the garden, and down to the
terrace, that overhung the river. The sun was now set; but, under
the dark branches of the almond trees, was seen the saffron glow of
the west, spreading beyond the twilight of middle air. The bat
flitted silently by; and, now and then, the mourning note of the
nightingale was heard. The circumstances of the hour brought to her
recollection some lines, which she had once heard St. Aubert recite
on this very spot, and she had now a melancholy pleasure in repeating


Now the bat circles on the breeze of eve,
That creeps, in shudd'ring fits, along the wave,
And trembles 'mid the woods, and through the cave
Whose lonely sighs the wanderer deceive;
For oft, when melancholy charms his mind,
He thinks the Spirit of the rock he hears,
Nor listens, but with sweetly-thrilling fears,
To the low, mystic murmurs of the wind!
Now the bat circles, and the twilight-dew
Falls silent round, and, o'er the mountain-cliff,
The gleaming wave, and far-discover'd skiff,
Spreads the gray veil of soft, harmonious hue.
So falls o'er Grief the dew of pity's tear
Dimming her lonely visions of despair.

Emily, wandering on, came to St. Aubert's favourite plane-tree, where
so often, at this hour, they had sat beneath the shade together, and
with her dear mother so often had conversed on the subject of a
future state. How often, too, had her father expressed the comfort
he derived from believing, that they should meet in another world!
Emily, overcome by these recollections, left the plane-tree, and, as
she leaned pensively on the wall of the terrace, she observed a group
of peasants dancing gaily on the banks of the Garonne, which spread
in broad expanse below, and reflected the evening light. What a
contrast they formed to the desolate, unhappy Emily! They were gay
and debonnaire, as they were wont to be when she, too, was gay--when
St. Aubert used to listen to their merry music, with a countenance
beaming pleasure and benevolence. Emily, having looked for a moment
on this sprightly band, turned away, unable to bear the remembrances
it excited; but where, alas! could she turn, and not meet new objects
to give acuteness to grief?

As she walked slowly towards the house, she was met by Theresa.
'Dear ma'amselle,' said she, 'I have been seeking you up and down
this half hour, and was afraid some accident had happened to you.
How can you like to wander about so in this night air! Do come into
the house. Think what my poor master would have said, if he could
see you. I am sure, when my dear lady died, no gentleman could take
it more to heart than he did, yet you know he seldom shed a tear.'

'Pray, Theresa, cease,' said Emily, wishing to interrupt this ill-
judged, but well-meaning harangue; Theresa's loquacity, however, was
not to be silenced so easily. 'And when you used to grieve so,' she
added, 'he often told you how wrong it was--for that my mistress was
happy. And, if she was happy, I am sure he is so too; for the
prayers of the poor, they say, reach heaven.' During this speech,
Emily had walked silently into the chateau, and Theresa lighted her
across the hall into the common sitting parlour, where she had laid
the cloth, with one solitary knife and fork, for supper. Emily was
in the room before she perceived that it was not her own apartment,
but she checked the emotion which inclined her to leave it, and
seated herself quietly by the little supper table. Her father's hat
hung upon the opposite wall; while she gazed at it, a faintness came
over her. Theresa looked at her, and then at the object, on which
her eyes were settled, and went to remove it; but Emily waved her
hand--'No,' said she, 'let it remain. I am going to my chamber.'
'Nay, ma'amselle, supper is ready.' 'I cannot take it,' replied
Emily, 'I will go to my room, and try to sleep. Tomorrow I shall be

'This is poor doings!' said Theresa. 'Dear lady! do take some food!
I have dressed a pheasant, and a fine one it is. Old Monsieur
Barreaux sent it this morning, for I saw him yesterday, and told him
you were coming. And I know nobody that seemed more concerned, when
he heard the sad news, then he.'

'Did he?' said Emily, in a tender voice, while she felt her poor
heart warmed for a moment by a ray of sympathy.

At length, her spirits were entirely overcome, and she retired to her


Can Music's voice, can Beauty's eye,
Can Painting's glowing hand supply
A charm so suited to my mind,
As blows this hollow gust of wind?
As drops this little weeping rill,
Soft tinkling down the moss-grown hill;
While, through the west, where sinks the crimson day,
Meek Twilight slowly sails, and waves her banners gray?

Emily, some time after her return to La Vallee, received letters from
her aunt, Madame Cheron, in which, after some common-place
condolement and advice, she invited her to Tholouse, and added, that,
as her late brother had entrusted Emily's EDUCATION to her, she
should consider herself bound to overlook her conduct. Emily, at
this time, wished only to remain at La Vallee, in the scenes of her
early happiness, now rendered infinitely dear to her, as the late
residence of those, whom she had lost for ever, where she could weep
unobserved, retrace their steps, and remember each minute particular
of their manners. But she was equally anxious to avoid the
displeasure of Madame Cheron.

Though her affection would not suffer her to question, even a moment,
the propriety of St. Aubert's conduct in appointing Madame Cheron for
her guardian, she was sensible, that this step had made her happiness
depend, in a great degree, on the humour of her aunt. In her reply,
she begged permission to remain, at present, at La Vallee, mentioning
the extreme dejection of her spirits, and the necessity she felt for
quiet and retirement to restore them. These she knew were not to be
found at Madame Cheron's, whose inclinations led her into a life of
dissipation, which her ample fortune encouraged; and, having given
her answer, she felt somewhat more at ease.

In the first days of her affliction, she was visited by Monsieur
Barreaux, a sincere mourner for St. Aubert. 'I may well lament my
friend,' said he, 'for I shall never meet with his resemblance. If I
could have found such a man in what is called society, I should not
have left it.'

M. Barreaux's admiration of her father endeared him extremely to
Emily, whose heart found almost its first relief in conversing of her
parents, with a man, whom she so much revered, and who, though with
such an ungracious appearance, possessed to much goodness of heart
and delicacy of mind.

Several weeks passed away in quiet retirement, and Emily's affliction
began to soften into melancholy. She could bear to read the books
she had before read with her father; to sit in his chair in the
library--to watch the flowers his hand had planted--to awaken the
tones of that instrument his fingers had pressed, and sometimes even
to play his favourite air.

When her mind had recovered from the first shock of affliction,
perceiving the danger of yielding to indolence, and that activity
alone could restore its tone, she scrupulously endeavoured to pass
all her hours in employment. And it was now that she understood the
full value of the education she had received from St. Aubert, for in
cultivating her understanding he had secured her an asylum from
indolence, without recourse to dissipation, and rich and varied
amusement and information, independent of the society, from which her
situation secluded her. Nor were the good effects of this education
confined to selfish advantages, since, St. Aubert having nourished
every amiable qualify of her heart, it now expanded in benevolence to
all around her, and taught her, when she could not remove the
misfortunes of others, at least to soften them by sympathy and
tenderness;--a benevolence that taught her to feel for all, that
could suffer.

Madame Cheron returned no answer to Emily's letter, who began to
hope, that she should be permitted to remain some time longer in her
retirement, and her mind had now so far recovered its strength, that
she ventured to view the scenes, which most powerfully recalled the
images of past times. Among these was the fishing-house; and, to
indulge still more the affectionate melancholy of the visit, she took
thither her lute, that she might again hear there the tones, to which
St. Aubert and her mother had so often delighted to listen. She went
alone, and at that still hour of the evening which is so soothing to
fancy and to grief. The last time she had been here she was in
company with Monsieur and Madame St. Aubert, a few days preceding
that, on which the latter was seized with a fatal illness. Now, when
Emily again entered the woods, that surrounded the building, they
awakened so forcibly the memory of former times, that her resolution
yielded for a moment to excess of grief. She stopped, leaned for
support against a tree, and wept for some minutes, before she had
recovered herself sufficiently to proceed. The little path, that led
to the building, was overgrown with grass and the flowers which St.
Aubert had scattered carelessly along the border were almost choked
with weeds--the tall thistle--the fox-glove, and the nettle. She
often paused to look on the desolate spot, now so silent and
forsaken, and when, with a trembling hand, she opened the door of the
fishing-house, 'Ah!' said she, 'every thing--every thing remains as
when I left it last--left it with those who never must return!' She
went to a window, that overhung the rivulet, and, leaning over it,
with her eyes fixed on the current, was soon lost in melancholy
reverie. The lute she had brought lay forgotten beside her; the
mournful sighing of the breeze, as it waved the high pines above, and
its softer whispers among the osiers, that bowed upon the banks
below, was a kind of music more in unison with her feelings. It did
not vibrate on the chords of unhappy memory, but was soothing to the
heart as the voice of Pity. She continued to muse, unconscious of
the gloom of evening, and that the sun's last light trembled on the
heights above, and would probably have remained so much longer, if a
sudden footstep, without the building, had not alarmed her attention,
and first made her recollect that she was unprotected. In the next
moment, a door opened, and a stranger appeared, who stopped on
perceiving Emily, and then began to apologize for his intrusion. But
Emily, at the sound of his voice, lost her fear in a stronger
emotion: its tones were familiar to her ear, and, though she could
not readily distinguish through the dusk the features of the person
who spoke, she felt a remembrance too strong to be distrusted.

He repeated his apology, and Emily then said something in reply, when
the stranger eagerly advancing, exclaimed, 'Good God! can it be--
surely I am not mistaken--ma'amselle St. Aubert?--is it not?'

'It is indeed,' said Emily, who was confirmed in her first
conjecture, for she now distinguished the countenance of Valancourt,
lighted up with still more than its usual animation. A thousand
painful recollections crowded to her mind, and the effort, which she
made to support herself, only served to increase her agitation.
Valancourt, meanwhile, having enquired anxiously after her health,
and expressed his hopes, that M. St. Aubert had found benefit from
travelling, learned from the flood of tears, which she could no
longer repress, the fatal truth. He led her to a seat, and sat down
by her, while Emily continued to weep, and Valancourt to hold the
hand, which she was unconscious he had taken, till it was wet with
the tears, which grief for St. Aubert and sympathy for herself had
called forth.

'I feel,' said he at length, 'I feel how insufficient all attempt at
consolation must be on this subject. I can only mourn with you, for
I cannot doubt the source of your tears. Would to God I were

Emily could still answer only by tears, till she rose, and begged
they might leave the melancholy spot, when Valancourt, though he saw
her feebleness, could not offer to detain her, but took her arm
within his, and led her from the fishing-house. They walked silently
through the woods, Valancourt anxious to know, yet fearing to ask any
particulars concerning St. Aubert; and Emily too much distressed to
converse. After some time, however, she acquired fortitude enough to
speak of her father, and to give a brief account of the manner of his
death; during which recital Valancourt's countenance betrayed strong
emotion, and, when he heard that St. Aubert had died on the road, and
that Emily had been left among strangers, he pressed her hand between
his, and involuntarily exclaimed, 'Why was I not there!' but in the
next moment recollected himself, for he immediately returned to the
mention of her father; till, perceiving that her spirits were
exhausted, he gradually changed the subject, and spoke of himself.
Emily thus learned that, after they had parted, he had wandered, for
some time, along the shores of the Mediterranean, and had then
returned through Languedoc into Gascony, which was his native
province, and where he usually resided.

When he had concluded his little narrative, he sunk into a silence,
which Emily was not disposed to interrupt, and it continued, till
they reached the gate of the chateau, when he stopped, as if he had
known this to be the limit of his walk. Here, saying, that it was
his intention to return to Estuviere on the following day, he asked
her if she would permit him to take leave of her in the morning; and
Emily, perceiving that she could not reject an ordinary civility,
without expressing by her refusal an expectation of something more,
was compelled to answer, that she should be at home.

She passed a melancholy evening, during which the retrospect of all
that had happened, since she had seen Valancourt, would rise to her
imagination; and the scene of her father's death appeared in tints as
fresh, as if it had passed on the preceding day. She remembered
particularly the earnest and solemn manner, in which he had required
her to destroy the manuscript papers, and, awakening from the
lethargy, in which sorrow had held her, she was shocked to think she
had not yet obeyed him, and determined, that another day should not
reproach her with the neglect.


Can such things be,
And overcome us like a summer's cloud,
Without our special wonder?

On the next morning, Emily ordered a fire to be lighted in the stove
of the chamber, where St. Aubert used to sleep; and, as soon as she
had breakfasted, went thither to burn the papers. Having fastened
the door to prevent interruption, she opened the closet where they
were concealed, as she entered which, she felt an emotion of unusual
awe, and stood for some moments surveying it, trembling, and almost
afraid to remove the board. There was a great chair in one corner of
the closet, and, opposite to it, stood the table, at which she had
seen her father sit, on the evening that preceded his departure,
looking over, with so much emotion, what she believed to be these
very papers.

The solitary life, which Emily had led of late, and the melancholy
subjects, on which she had suffered her thoughts to dwell, had
rendered her at times sensible to the 'thick-coming fancies' of a
mind greatly enervated. It was lamentable, that her excellent
understanding should have yielded, even for a moment, to the reveries
of superstition, or rather to those starts of imagination, which
deceive the senses into what can be called nothing less than
momentary madness. Instances of this temporary failure of mind had
more than once occurred since her return home; particularly when,
wandering through this lonely mansion in the evening twilight, she
had been alarmed by appearances, which would have been unseen in her
more cheerful days. To this infirm state of her nerves may be
attributed what she imagined, when, her eyes glancing a second time
on the arm-chair, which stood in an obscure part of the closet, the
countenance of her dead father appeared there. Emily stood fixed for
a moment to the floor, after which she left the closet. Her spirits,
however, soon returned; she reproached herself with the weakness of
thus suffering interruption in an act of serious importance, and
again opened the door. By the directions which St. Aubert had given
her, she readily found the board he had described in an opposite
corner of the closet, near the window; she distinguished also the
line he had mentioned, and, pressing it as he had bade her, it slid
down, and disclosed the bundle of papers, together with some
scattered ones, and the purse of louis. With a trembling hand she
removed them, replaced the board, paused a moment, and was rising
from the floor, when, on looking up, there appeared to her alarmed
fancy the same countenance in the chair. The illusion, another
instance of the unhappy effect which solitude and grief had gradually
produced upon her mind, subdued her spirits; she rushed forward into
the chamber, and sunk almost senseless into a chair. Returning
reason soon overcame the dreadful, but pitiable attack of
imagination, and she turned to the papers, though still with so
little recollection, that her eyes involuntarily settled on the
writing of some loose sheets, which lay open; and she was
unconscious, that she was transgressing her father's strict
injunction, till a sentence of dreadful import awakened her attention
and her memory together. She hastily put the papers from her; but
the words, which had roused equally her curiosity and terror, she
could not dismiss from her thoughts. So powerfully had they affected
her, that she even could not resolve to destroy the papers
immediately; and the more she dwelt on the circumstance, the more it
inflamed her imagination. Urged by the most forcible, and apparently
the most necessary, curiosity to enquire farther, concerning the
terrible and mysterious subject, to which she had seen an allusion,
she began to lament her promise to destroy the papers. For a moment,
she even doubted, whether it could justly be obeyed, in contradiction
to such reasons as there appeared to be for further information. But
the delusion was momentary.

'I have given a solemn promise,' said she, 'to observe a solemn
injunction, and it is not my business to argue, but to obey. Let me
hasten to remove the temptation, that would destroy my innocence, and
embitter my life with the consciousness of irremediable guilt, while
I have strength to reject it.'

Thus re-animated with a sense of her duty, she completed the triumph
of her integrity over temptation, more forcible than any she had ever
known, and consigned the papers to the flames. Her eyes watched them
as they slowly consumed, she shuddered at the recollection of the
sentence she had just seen, and at the certainty, that the only
opportunity of explaining it was then passing away for ever.

It was long after this, that she recollected the purse; and as she
was depositing it, unopened, in a cabinet, perceiving that it
contained something of a size larger than coin, she examined it.
'His hand deposited them here,' said she, as she kissed some pieces
of the coin, and wetted them with her tears, 'his hand--which is now
dust!' At the bottom of the purse was a small packet, having taken
out which, and unfolded paper after paper, she found to be an ivory
case, containing the miniature of a--lady! She started--'The same,'
said she, 'my father wept over!' On examining the countenance she
could recollect no person that it resembled. It was of uncommon
beauty, and was characterized by an expression of sweetness, shaded
with sorrow, and tempered by resignation.

St. Aubert had given no directions concerning this picture, nor had
even named it; she, therefore, thought herself justified in
preserving it. More than once remembering his manner, when he had
spoken of the Marchioness of Villeroi, she felt inclined to believe
that this was her resemblance; yet there appeared no reason why he
should have preserved a picture of that lady, or, having preserved
it, why he should lament over it in a manner so striking and
affecting as she had witnessed on the night preceding his departure.

Emily still gazed on the countenance, examining its features, but she
knew not where to detect the charm that captivated her attention, and
inspired sentiments of such love and pity. Dark brown hair played
carelessly along the open forehead; the nose was rather inclined to
aquiline; the lips spoke in a smile, but it was a melancholy one; the
eyes were blue, and were directed upwards with an expression of
peculiar meekness, while the soft cloud of the brow spoke of the fine
sensibility of the temper.

Emily was roused from the musing mood into which the picture had
thrown her, by the closing of the garden gate; and, on turning her
eyes to the window, she saw Valancourt coming towards the chateau.
Her spirits agitated by the subjects that had lately occupied her
mind, she felt unprepared to see him, and remained a few moments in
the chamber to recover herself.

When she met him in the parlour, she was struck with the change that
appeared in his air and countenance since they had parted in
Rousillon, which twilight and the distress she suffered on the
preceding evening had prevented her from observing. But dejection
and languor disappeared, for a moment, in the smile that now
enlightened his countenance, on perceiving her. 'You see,' said he,
'I have availed myself of the permission with which you honoured me--
of bidding YOU farewell, whom I had the happiness of meeting only

Emily smiled faintly, and, anxious to say something, asked if he had
been long in Gascony. 'A few days only,' replied Valancourt, while a
blush passed over his cheek. 'I engaged in a long ramble after I had
the misfortune of parting with the friends who had made my wanderings
among the Pyrenees so delightful.'

A tear came to Emily's eye, as Valancourt said this, which he
observed; and, anxious to draw off her attention from the remembrance
that had occasioned it, as well as shocked at his own
thoughtlessness, he began to speak on other subjects, expressing his
admiration of the chateau, and its prospects. Emily, who felt
somewhat embarrassed how to support a conversation, was glad of such
an opportunity to continue it on indifferent topics. They walked
down to the terrace, where Valancourt was charmed with the river
scenery, and the views over the opposite shores of Guienne.

As he leaned on the wall of the terrace, watching the rapid current
of the Garonne, 'I was a few weeks ago,' said he, 'at the source of
this noble river; I had not then the happiness of knowing you, or I
should have regretted your absence--it was a scene so exactly suited
to your taste. It rises in a part of the Pyrenees, still wilder and
more sublime, I think, than any we passed in the way to Rousillon.'
He then described its fall among the precipices of the mountains,
where its waters, augmented by the streams that descend from the
snowy summits around, rush into the Vallee d'Aran, between whose
romantic heights it foams along, pursuing its way to the north west
till it emerges upon the plains of Languedoc. Then, washing the
walls of Tholouse, and turning again to the north west, it assumes a
milder character, as it fertilizes the pastures of Gascony and
Guienne, in its progress to the Bay of Biscay.

Emily and Valancourt talked of the scenes they had passed among the
Pyrenean Alps; as he spoke of which there was often a tremulous
tenderness in his voice, and sometimes he expatiated on them with all
the fire of genius, sometimes would appear scarcely conscious of the
topic, though he continued to speak. This subject recalled forcibly
to Emily the idea of her father, whose image appeared in every
landscape, which Valancourt particularized, whose remarks dwelt upon
her memory, and whose enthusiasm still glowed in her heart. Her
silence, at length, reminded Valancourt how nearly his conversation
approached to the occasion of her grief, and he changed the subject,
though for one scarcely less affecting to Emily. When he admired the
grandeur of the plane-tree, that spread its wide branches over the
terrace, and under whose shade they now sat, she remembered how often
she had sat thus with St. Aubert, and heard him express the same

'This was a favourite tree with my dear father,' said she; 'he used
to love to sit under its foliage with his family about him, in the
fine evenings of summer.'

Valancourt understood her feelings, and was silent; had she raised
her eyes from the ground she would have seen tears in his. He rose,
and leaned on the wall of the terrace, from which, in a few moments,
he returned to his seat, then rose again, and appeared to be greatly
agitated; while Emily found her spirits so much depressed, that
several of her attempts to renew the conversation were ineffectual.
Valancourt again sat down, but was still silent, and trembled. At
length he said, with a hesitating voice, 'This lovely scene!--I am
going to leave--to leave you--perhaps for ever! These moments may
never return; I cannot resolve to neglect, though I scarcely dare to
avail myself of them. Let me, however, without offending the
delicacy of your sorrow, venture to declare the admiration I must
always feel of your goodness--O! that at some future period I might
be permitted to call it love!'

Emily's emotion would not suffer her to reply; and Valancourt, who
now ventured to look up, observing her countenance change, expected
to see her faint, and made an involuntary effort to support her,
which recalled Emily to a sense of her situation, and to an exertion
of her spirits. Valancourt did not appear to notice her
indisposition, but, when he spoke again, his voice told the tenderest
love. 'I will not presume,' he added, 'to intrude this subject
longer upon your attention at this time, but I may, perhaps, be
permitted to mention, that these parting moments would lose much of
their bitterness if I might be allowed to hope the declaration I have
made would not exclude me from your presence in future.'

Emily made another effort to overcome the confusion of her thoughts,
and to speak. She feared to trust the preference her heart
acknowledged towards Valancourt, and to give him any encouragement
for hope, on so short an acquaintance. For though in this narrow
period she had observed much that was admirable in his taste and
disposition, and though these observations had been sanctioned by the
opinion of her father, they were not sufficient testimonies of his
general worth to determine her upon a subject so infinitely important
to her future happiness as that, which now solicited her attention.
Yet, though the thought of dismissing Valancourt was so very painful
to her, that she could scarcely endure to pause upon it, the
consciousness of this made her fear the partiality of her judgment,
and hesitate still more to encourage that suit, for which her own
heart too tenderly pleaded. The family of Valancourt, if not his
circumstances, had been known to her father, and known to be
unexceptionable. Of his circumstances, Valancourt himself hinted as
far as delicacy would permit, when he said he had at present little
else to offer but an heart, that adored her. He had solicited only
for a distant hope, and she could not resolve to forbid, though she
scarcely dared to permit it; at length, she acquired courage to say,
that she must think herself honoured by the good opinion of any
person, whom her father had esteemed.

'And was I, then, thought worthy of his esteem?' said Valancourt, in
a voice trembling with anxiety; then checking himself, he added, 'But
pardon the question; I scarcely know what I say. If I might dare to
hope, that you think me not unworthy such honour, and might be
permitted sometimes to enquire after your health, I should now leave
you with comparative tranquillity.'

Emily, after a moment's silence, said, 'I will be ingenuous with you,
for I know you will understand, and allow for my situation; you will
consider it as a proof of my--my esteem that I am so. Though I live
here in what was my father's house, I live here alone. I have, alas!
no longer a parent--a parent, whose presence might sanction your
visits. It is unnecessary for me to point out the impropriety of my
receiving them.'

'Nor will I affect to be insensible of this,' replied Valancourt,
adding mournfully--'but what is to console me for my candour? I
distress you, and would now leave the subject, if I might carry with
me a hope of being some time permitted to renew it, of being allowed
to make myself known to your family.'

Emily was again confused, and again hesitated what to reply; she felt
most acutely the difficulty--the forlornness of her situation, which
did not allow her a single relative, or friend, to whom she could
turn for even a look, that might support and guide her in the present
embarrassing circumstances. Madame Cheron, who was her only
relative, and ought to have been this friend, was either occupied by
her own amusements, or so resentful of the reluctance her niece had
shewn to quit La Vallee, that she seemed totally to have abandoned

'Ah! I see,' said Valancourt, after a long pause, during which Emily
had begun, and left unfinished two or three sentences, 'I see that I
have nothing to hope; my fears were too just, you think me unworthy
of your esteem. That fatal journey! which I considered as the
happiest period of my life--those delightful days were to embitter
all my future ones. How often I have looked back to them with hope
and fear--yet never till this moment could I prevail with myself to
regret their enchanting influence.'

His voice faltered, and he abruptly quitted his seat and walked on
the terrace. There was an expression of despair on his countenance,
that affected Emily. The pleadings of her heart overcame, in some
degree, her extreme timidity, and, when he resumed his seat, she
said, in an accent that betrayed her tenderness, 'You do both
yourself and me injustice when you say I think you unworthy of my
esteem; I will acknowledge that you have long possessed it, and--and-

Valancourt waited impatiently for the conclusion of the sentence, but
the words died on her lips. Her eyes, however, reflected all the
emotions of her heart. Valancourt passed, in an instant, from the
impatience of despair, to that of joy and tenderness. 'O Emily!' he
exclaimed, 'my own Emily--teach me to sustain this moment! Let me
seal it as the most sacred of my life!'

He pressed her hand to his lips, it was cold and trembling; and,
raising her eyes, he saw the paleness of her countenance. Tears came
to her relief, and Valancourt watched in anxious silence over her.
In a few moments, she recovered herself, and smiling faintly through
her tears, said, 'Can you excuse this weakness? My spirits have not
yet, I believe, recovered from the shock they lately received.'

'I cannot excuse myself,' said Valancourt, 'but I will forbear to
renew the subject, which may have contributed to agitate them, now
that I can leave you with the sweet certainty of possessing your

Then, forgetting his resolution, he again spoke of himself. 'You
know not,' said he, 'the many anxious hours I have passed near you
lately, when you believed me, if indeed you honoured me with a
thought, far away. I have wandered, near the chateau, in the still
hours of the night, when no eye could observe me. It was delightful
to know I was so near you, and there was something particularly
soothing in the thought, that I watched round your habitation, while
you slept. These grounds are not entirely new to me. Once I
ventured within the fence, and spent one of the happiest, and yet
most melancholy hours of my life in walking under what I believed to
be your window.'

Emily enquired how long Valancourt had been in the neighbourhood.
'Several days,' he replied. 'It was my design to avail myself of the
permission M. St. Aubert had given me. I scarcely know how to
account for it; but, though I anxiously wished to do this, my
resolution always failed, when the moment approached, and I
constantly deferred my visit. I lodged in a village at some
distance, and wandered with my dogs, among the scenes of this
charming country, wishing continually to meet you, yet not daring to
visit you.'

Having thus continued to converse, without perceiving the flight of
time, Valancourt, at length, seemed to recollect himself. 'I must
go,' said he mournfully, 'but it is with the hope of seeing you
again, of being permitted to pay my respects to your family; let me
hear this hope confirmed by your voice.' 'My family will be happy to
see any friend of my dear father,' said Emily. Valancourt kissed her
hand, and still lingered, unable to depart, while Emily sat silently,
with her eyes bent on the ground; and Valancourt, as he gazed on her,
considered that it would soon be impossible for him to recall, even
to his memory, the exact resemblance of the beautiful countenance he
then beheld; at this moment an hasty footstep approached from behind
the plane-tree, and, turning her eyes, Emily saw Madame Cheron. She
felt a blush steal upon her cheek, and her frame trembled with the
emotion of her mind; but she instantly rose to meet her visitor.
'So, niece!' said Madame Cheron, casting a look of surprise and
enquiry on Valancourt, 'so niece, how do you do? But I need not ask,
your looks tell me you have already recovered your loss.'

'My looks do me injustice then, Madame, my loss I know can never be

'Well--well! I will not argue with you; I see you have exactly your
father's disposition; and let me tell you it would have been much
happier for him, poor man! if it had been a different one.'

A look of dignified displeasure, with which Emily regarded Madame
Cheron, while she spoke, would have touched almost any other heart;
she made no other reply, but introduced Valancourt, who could
scarcely stifle the resentment he felt, and whose bow Madame Cheron
returned with a slight curtsy, and a look of supercilious
examination. After a few moments he took leave of Emily, in a
manner, that hastily expressed his pain both at his own departure,
and at leaving her to the society of Madame Cheron.

'Who is that young man?' said her aunt, in an accent which equally
implied inquisitiveness and censure. 'Some idle admirer of yours I
suppose; but I believed niece you had a greater sense of propriety,
than to have received the visits of any young man in your present
unfriended situation. Let me tell you the world will observe those
things, and it will talk, aye and very freely too.'

Emily, extremely shocked at this coarse speech, attempted to
interrupt it; but Madame Cheron would proceed, with all the self-
importance of a person, to whom power is new.

'It is very necessary you should be under the eye of some person more
able to guide you than yourself. I, indeed, have not much leisure
for such a task; however, since your poor father made it his last
request, that I should overlook your conduct--I must even take you
under my care. But this let me tell you niece, that, unless you will
determine to be very conformable to my direction, I shall not trouble
myself longer about you.'

Emily made no attempt to interrupt Madame Cheron a second time, grief
and the pride of conscious innocence kept her silent, till her aunt
said, 'I am now come to take you with me to Tholouse; I am sorry to
find, that your poor father died, after all, in such indifferent
circumstances; however, I shall take you home with me. Ah! poor man,
he was always more generous than provident, or he would not have left
his daughter dependent on his relations.'

'Nor has he done so, I hope, madam,' said Emily calmly, 'nor did his
pecuniary misfortunes arise from that noble generosity, which always
distinguished him. The affairs of M. de Motteville may, I trust, yet
be settled without deeply injuring his creditors, and in the meantime
I should be very happy to remain at La Vallee.'

'No doubt you would,' replied Madame Cheron, with a smile of irony,
'and I shall no doubt consent to this, since I see how necessary
tranquillity and retirement are to restore your spirits. I did not
think you capable of so much duplicity, niece; when you pleaded this
excuse for remaining here, I foolishly believed it to be a just one,
nor expected to have found with you so agreeable a companion as this
M. La Val--, I forget his name.'

Emily could no longer endure these cruel indignities. 'It was a just
one, madam,' said she; 'and now, indeed, I feel more than ever the
value of the retirement I then solicited; and, if the purport of your
visit is only to add insult to the sorrows of your brother's child,
she could well have spared it.'

'I see that I have undertaken a very troublesome task,' said Madame
Cheron, colouring highly. 'I am sure, madam,' said Emily mildly, and
endeavouring to restrain her tears, 'I am sure my father did not mean
it should be such. I have the happiness to reflect, that my conduct
under his eye was such as he often delighted to approve. It would be
very painful to me to disobey the sister of such a parent, and, if
you believe the task will really be so troublesome, I must lament,
that it is yours.'

'Well! niece, fine speaking signifies little. I am willing, in
consideration of my poor brother, to overlook the impropriety of your
late conduct, and to try what your future will be.'

Emily interrupted her, to beg she would explain what was the
impropriety she alluded to.

'What impropriety! why that of receiving the visits of a lover
unknown to your family,' replied Madame Cheron, not considering the
impropriety of which she had herself been guilty, in exposing her
niece to the possibility of conduct so erroneous.

A faint blush passed over Emily's countenance; pride and anxiety
struggled in her breast; and, till she recollected, that appearances
did, in some degree, justify her aunt's suspicions, she could not
resolve to humble herself so far as to enter into the defence of a
conduct, which had been so innocent and undesigning on her part. She
mentioned the manner of Valancourt's introduction to her father; the
circumstances of his receiving the pistol-shot, and of their
afterwards travelling together; with the accidental way, in which she
had met him, on the preceding evening. She owned he had declared a
partiality for her, and that he had asked permission to address her

'And who is this young adventurer, pray?' said Madame Cheron, 'and
what are his pretensions?' 'These he must himself explain, madam,'
replied Emily. 'Of his family my father was not ignorant, and I
believe it is unexceptionable.' She then proceeded to mention what
she knew concerning it.

'Oh, then, this it seems is a younger brother,' exclaimed her aunt,
'and of course a beggar. A very fine tale indeed! And so my brother
took a fancy to this young man after only a few days acquaintance!--
but that was so like him! In his youth he was always taking these
likes and dislikes, when no other person saw any reason for them at
all; nay, indeed, I have often thought the people he disapproved were
much more agreeable than those he admired;--but there is no
accounting for tastes. He was always so much influenced by people's
countenances; now I, for my part, have no notion of this, it is all
ridiculous enthusiasm. What has a man's face to do with his
character? Can a man of good character help having a disagreeable
face?'--which last sentence Madame Cheron delivered with the decisive
air of a person who congratulates herself on having made a grand
discovery, and believes the question to be unanswerably settled.

Emily, desirous of concluding the conversation, enquired if her aunt
would accept some refreshment, and Madame Cheron accompanied her to
the chateau, but without desisting from a topic, which she discussed
with so much complacency to herself, and severity to her niece.

'I am sorry to perceive, niece,' said she, in allusion to somewhat
that Emily had said, concerning physiognomy, 'that you have a great
many of your father's prejudices, and among them those sudden
predilections for people from their looks. I can perceive, that you
imagine yourself to be violently in love with this young adventurer,
after an acquaintance of only a few days. There was something, too,
so charmingly romantic in the manner of your meeting!'

Emily checked the tears, that trembled in her eyes, while she said,
'When my conduct shall deserve this severity, madam, you will do well
to exercise it; till then justice, if not tenderness, should surely
restrain it. I have never willingly offended you; now I have lost my
parents, you are the only person to whom I can look for kindness.
Let me not lament more than ever the loss of such parents.' The last
words were almost stifled by her emotions, and she burst into tears.
Remembering the delicacy and the tenderness of St. Aubert, the happy,
happy days she had passed in these scenes, and contrasting them with
the coarse and unfeeling behaviour of Madame Cheron, and from the
future hours of mortification she must submit to in her presence--a
degree of grief seized her, that almost reached despair. Madame
Cheron, more offended by the reproof which Emily's words conveyed,
than touched by the sorrow they expressed, said nothing, that might
soften her grief; but, notwithstanding an apparent reluctance to
receive her niece, she desired her company. The love of sway was her
ruling passion, and she knew it would be highly gratified by taking
into her house a young orphan, who had no appeal from her decisions,
and on whom she could exercise without controul the capricious humour
of the moment.

On entering the chateau, Madame Cheron expressed a desire, that she
would put up what she thought necessary to take to Tholouse, as she
meant to set off immediately. Emily now tried to persuade her to
defer the journey, at least till the next day, and, at length, with
much difficulty, prevailed.

The day passed in the exercise of petty tyranny on the part of Madame
Cheron, and in mournful regret and melancholy anticipation on that of
Emily, who, when her aunt retired to her apartment for the night,
went to take leave of every other room in this her dear native home,
which she was now quitting for she knew not how long, and for a
world, to which she was wholly a stranger. She could not conquer a
presentiment, which frequently occurred to her, this night--that she
should never more return to La Vallee. Having passed a considerable
time in what had been her father's study, having selected some of his
favourite authors, to put up with her clothes, and shed many tears,
as she wiped the dust from their covers, she seated herself in his
chair before the reading desk, and sat lost in melancholy reflection,
till Theresa opened the door to examine, as was her custom before she
went to bed, if was all safe. She started, on observing her young
lady, who bade her come in, and then gave her some directions for
keeping the chateau in readiness for her reception at all times.

'Alas-a-day! that you should leave it!' said Theresa, 'I think you
would be happier here than where you are going, if one may judge.'
Emily made no reply to this remark; the sorrow Theresa proceeded to
express at her departure affected her, but she found some comfort in
the simple affection of this poor old servant, to whom she gave such
directions as might best conduce to her comfort during her own

Having dismissed Theresa to bed, Emily wandered through every lonely
apartment of the chateau, lingering long in what had been her
father's bed-room, indulging melancholy, yet not unpleasing,
emotions, and, having often returned within the door to take another
look at it, she withdrew to her own chamber. From her window she
gazed upon the garden below, shewn faintly by the moon, rising over
the tops of the palm-trees, and, at length, the calm beauty of the
night increased a desire of indulging the mournful sweetness of
bidding farewel to the beloved shades of her childhood, till she was
tempted to descend. Throwing over her the light veil, in which she
usually walked, she silently passed into the garden, and, hastening
towards the distant groves, was glad to breathe once more the air of
liberty, and to sigh unobserved. The deep repose of the scene, the
rich scents, that floated on the breeze, the grandeur of the wide
horizon and of the clear blue arch, soothed and gradually elevated
her mind to that sublime complacency, which renders the vexations of
this world so insignificant and mean in our eyes, that we wonder they
have had power for a moment to disturb us. Emily forgot Madame
Cheron and all the circumstances of her conduct, while her thoughts
ascended to the contemplation of those unnumbered worlds, that lie
scattered in the depths of aether, thousands of them hid from human
eyes, and almost beyond the flight of human fancy. As her
imagination soared through the regions of space, and aspired to that
Great First Cause, which pervades and governs all being, the idea of
her father scarcely ever left her; but it was a pleasing idea, since
she resigned him to God in the full confidence of a pure and holy
faith. She pursued her way through the groves to the terrace, often
pausing as memory awakened the pang of affection, and as reason
anticipated the exile, into which she was going.

And now the moon was high over the woods, touching their summits with
yellow light, and darting between the foliage long level beams; while
on the rapid Garonne below the trembling radiance was faintly
obscured by the lightest vapour. Emily long watched the playing
lustre, listened to the soothing murmur of the current, and the yet
lighter sounds of the air, as it stirred, at intervals, the lofty
palm-trees. 'How delightful is the sweet breath of these groves,'
said she. 'This lovely scene!--how often shall I remember and regret
it, when I am far away. Alas! what events may occur before I see it
again! O, peaceful, happy shades!--scenes of my infant delights, of
parental tenderness now lost for ever!--why must I leave ye!--In your
retreats I should still find safety and repose. Sweet hours of my
childhood--I am now to leave even your last memorials! No objects,
that would revive your impressions, will remain for me!'

Then drying her tears and looking up, her thoughts rose again to the
sublime subject she had contemplated; the same divine complacency
stole over her heart, and, hushing its throbs, inspired hope and
confidence and resignation to the will of the Deity, whose works
filled her mind with adoration.

Emily gazed long on the plane-tree, and then seated herself, for the
last time, on the bench under its shade, where she had so often sat
with her parents, and where, only a few hours before, she had
conversed with Valancourt, at the remembrance of whom, thus revived,
a mingled sensation of esteem, tenderness and anxiety rose in her
breast. With this remembrance occurred a recollection of his late
confession--that he had often wandered near her habitation in the
night, having even passed the boundary of the garden, and it
immediately occurred to her, that he might be at this moment in the
grounds. The fear of meeting him, particularly after the declaration
he had made, and of incurring a censure, which her aunt might so
reasonably bestow, if it was known, that she was met by her lover, at
this hour, made her instantly leave her beloved plane-tree, and walk
towards the chateau. She cast an anxious eye around, and often
stopped for a moment to examine the shadowy scene before she ventured
to proceed, but she passed on without perceiving any person, till,
having reached a clump of almond trees, not far from the house, she
rested to take a retrospect of the garden, and to sigh forth another
adieu. As her eyes wandered over the landscape she thought she
perceived a person emerge from the groves, and pass slowly along a
moon-light alley that led between them; but the distance, and the
imperfect light would not suffer her to judge with any degree of
certainty whether this was fancy or reality. She continued to gaze
for some time on the spot, till on the dead stillness of the air she
heard a sudden sound, and in the next instant fancied she
distinguished footsteps near her. Wasting not another moment in
conjecture, she hurried to the chateau, and, having reached it,
retired to her chamber, where, as she closed her window she looked
upon the garden, and then again thought she distinguished a figure,
gliding between the almond trees she had just left. She immediately
withdrew from the casement, and, though much agitated, sought in
sleep the refreshment of a short oblivion.


I leave that flowery path for eye
Of childhood, where I sported many a day,
Warbling and sauntering carelessly along;
Where every face was innocent and gay,
Each vale romantic, tuneful every tongue,
Sweet, wild, and artless all.

At an early hour, the carriage, which was to take Emily and Madame
Cheron to Tholouse, appeared at the door of the chateau, and Madame
was already in the breakfast-room, when her niece entered it. The
repast was silent and melancholy on the part of Emily; and Madame
Cheron, whose vanity was piqued on observing her dejection, reproved
her in a manner that did not contribute to remove it. It was with
much reluctance, that Emily's request to take with her the dog, which
had been a favourite of her father, was granted. Her aunt, impatient
to be gone, ordered the carriage to draw up; and, while she passed to
the hall door, Emily gave another look into the library, and another
farewell glance over the garden, and then followed. Old Theresa
stood at the door to take leave of her young lady. 'God for ever
keep you, ma'amselle!' said she, while Emily gave her hand in
silence, and could answer only with a pressure of her hand, and a
forced smile.

At the gate, which led out of the grounds, several of her father's
pensioners were assembled to bid her farewell, to whom she would have
spoken, if her aunt would have suffered the driver to stop; and,
having distributed to them almost all the money she had about her,
she sunk back in the carriage, yielding to the melancholy of her
heart. Soon after, she caught, between the steep banks of the road,
another view of the chateau, peeping from among the high trees, and
surrounded by green slopes and tufted groves, the Garonne winding its
way beneath their shades, sometimes lost among the vineyards, and
then rising in greater majesty in the distant pastures. The towering
precipices of the Pyrenees, that rose to the south, gave Emily a
thousand interesting recollections of her late journey; and these
objects of her former enthusiastic admiration, now excited only
sorrow and regret. Having gazed on the chateau and its lovely
scenery, till the banks again closed upon them, her mind became too
much occupied by mournful reflections, to permit her to attend to the
conversation, which Madame Cheron had begun on some trivial topic, so
that they soon travelled in profound silence.

Valancourt, mean while, was returned to Estuviere, his heart occupied
with the image of Emily; sometimes indulging in reveries of future
happiness, but more frequently shrinking with dread of the opposition
he might encounter from her family. He was the younger son of an
ancient family of Gascony; and, having lost his parents at an early
period of his life, the care of his education and of his small
portion had devolved to his brother, the Count de Duvarney, his
senior by nearly twenty years. Valancourt had been educated in all
the accomplishments of his age, and had an ardour of spirit, and a
certain grandeur of mind, that gave him particular excellence in the
exercises then thought heroic. His little fortune had been
diminished by the necessary expences of his education; but M. La
Valancourt, the elder, seemed to think that his genius and
accomplishments would amply supply the deficiency of his inheritance.
They offered flattering hopes of promotion in the military
profession, in those times almost the only one in which a gentleman
could engage without incurring a stain on his name; and La Valancourt
was of course enrolled in the army. The general genius of his mind
was but little understood by his brother. That ardour for whatever
is great and good in the moral world, as well as in the natural one,
displayed itself in his infant years; and the strong indignation,
which he felt and expressed at a criminal, or a mean action,
sometimes drew upon him the displeasure of his tutor; who reprobated
it under the general term of violence of temper; and who, when
haranguing on the virtues of mildness and moderation, seemed to
forget the gentleness and compassion, which always appeared in his
pupil towards objects of misfortune.

He had now obtained leave of absence from his regiment when he made
the excursion into the Pyrenees, which was the means of introducing
him to St. Aubert; and, as this permission was nearly expired, he was
the more anxious to declare himself to Emily's family, from whom he
reasonably apprehended opposition, since his fortune, though, with a
moderate addition from hers, it would be sufficient to support them,
would not satisfy the views, either of vanity, or ambition.
Valancourt was not without the latter, but he saw golden visions of
promotion in the army; and believed, that with Emily he could, in the
mean time, be delighted to live within the limits of his humble
income. His thoughts were now occupied in considering the means of
making himself known to her family, to whom, however, he had yet no
address, for he was entirely ignorant of Emily's precipitate
departure from La Vallee, of whom he hoped to obtain it.

Meanwhile, the travellers pursued their journey; Emily making
frequent efforts to appear cheerful, and too often relapsing into
silence and dejection. Madame Cheron, attributing her melancholy
solely to the circumstance of her being removed to a distance from
her lover, and believing, that the sorrow, which her niece still
expressed for the loss of St. Aubert, proceeded partly from an
affectation of sensibility, endeavoured to make it appear ridiculous
to her, that such deep regret should continue to be felt so long
after the period usually allowed for grief.

At length, these unpleasant lectures were interrupted by the arrival
of the travellers at Tholouse; and Emily, who had not been there for
many years, and had only a very faint recollection of it, was
surprised at the ostentatious style exhibited in her aunt's house and
furniture; the more so, perhaps, because it was so totally different
from the modest elegance, to which she had been accustomed. She
followed Madame Cheron through a large hall, where several servants
in rich liveries appeared, to a kind of saloon, fitted up with more
shew than taste; and her aunt, complaining of fatigue, ordered supper
immediately. 'I am glad to find myself in my own house again,' said
she, throwing herself on a large settee, 'and to have my own people
about me. I detest travelling; though, indeed, I ought to like it,
for what I see abroad always makes me delighted to return to my own
chateau. what makes you so silent, child?--What is it that disturbs
you now?'

Emily suppressed a starting tear, and tried to smile away the
expression of an oppressed heart; she was thinking of HER home, and
felt too sensibly the arrogance and ostentatious vanity of Madame
Cheron's conversation. 'Can this be my father's sister!' said she to
herself; and then the conviction that she was so, warming her heart
with something like kindness towards her, she felt anxious to soften
the harsh impression her mind had received of her aunt's character,
and to shew a willingness to oblige her. The effort did not entirely
fail; she listened with apparent chearfulness, while Madame Cheron
expatiated on the splendour of her house, told of the numerous
parties she entertained, and what she should expect of Emily, whose
diffidence assumed the air of a reserve, which her aunt, believing it
to be that of pride and ignorance united, now took occasion to
reprehend. She knew nothing of the conduct of a mind, that fears to
trust its own powers; which, possessing a nice judgment, and
inclining to believe, that every other person perceives still more
critically, fears to commit itself to censure, and seeks shelter in
the obscurity of silence. Emily had frequently blushed at the
fearless manners, which she had seen admired, and the brilliant
nothings, which she had heard applauded; yet this applause, so far
from encouraging her to imitate the conduct that had won it, rather
made her shrink into the reserve, that would protect her from such

Madame Cheron looked on her niece's diffidence with a feeling very
near to contempt, and endeavoured to overcome it by reproof, rather
than to encourage it by gentleness.

The entrance of supper somewhat interrupted the complacent discourse
of Madame Cheron and the painful considerations, which it had forced
upon Emily. When the repast, which was rendered ostentatious by the
attendance of a great number of servants, and by a profusion of
plate, was over, Madame Cheron retired to her chamber, and a female
servant came to shew Emily to hers. Having passed up a large stair-
case, and through several galleries, they came to a flight of back
stairs, which led into a short passage in a remote part of the
chateau, and there the servant opened the door of a small chamber,
which she said was Ma'amselle Emily's, who, once more alone, indulged
the tears she had long tried to restrain.

Those, who know, from experience, how much the heart becomes attached
even to inanimate objects, to which it has been long accustomed, how
unwillingly it resigns them; how with the sensations of an old friend
it meets them, after temporary absence, will understand the
forlornness of Emily's feelings, of Emily shut out from the only home
she had known from her infancy, and thrown upon a scene, and among
persons, disagreeable for more qualities than their novelty. Her
father's favourite dog, now in the chamber, thus seemed to acquire
the character and importance of a friend; and, as the animal fawned
over her when she wept, and licked her hands, 'Ah, poor Manchon!'
said she, 'I have nobody now to love me--but you!' and she wept the
more. After some time, her thoughts returning to her father's
injunctions, she remembered how often he had blamed her for indulging
useless sorrow; how often he had pointed out to her the necessity of
fortitude and patience, assuring her, that the faculties of the mind
strengthen by exertion, till they finally unnerve affliction, and
triumph over it. These recollections dried her tears, gradually
soothed her spirits, and inspired her with the sweet emulation of
practising precepts, which her father had so frequently inculcated.


Some pow'r impart the spear and shield,
At which the wizard passions fly,
By which the giant follies die.

Madame Cheron's house stood at a little distance from the city of
Tholouse, and was surrounded by extensive gardens, in which Emily,
who had risen early, amused herself with wandering before breakfast.
From a terrace, that extended along the highest part of them, was a
wide view over Languedoc. On the distant horizon to the south, she
discovered the wild summits of the Pyrenees, and her fancy
immediately painted the green pastures of Gascony at their feet. Her
heart pointed to her peaceful home--to the neighbourhood where
Valancourt was--where St. Aubert had been; and her imagination,
piercing the veil of distance, brought that home to her eyes in all
its interesting and romantic beauty. She experienced an
inexpressible pleasure in believing, that she beheld the country
around it, though no feature could be distinguished, except the
retiring chain of the Pyrenees; and, inattentive to the scene
immediately before her, and to the flight of time, she continued to
lean on the window of a pavilion, that terminated the terrace, with
her eyes fixed on Gascony, and her mind occupied with the interesting
ideas which the view of it awakened, till a servant came to tell her
breakfast was ready. Her thoughts thus recalled to the surrounding
objects, the straight walks, square parterres, and artificial
fountains of the garden, could not fail, as she passed through it, to
appear the worse, opposed to the negligent graces, and natural
beauties of the grounds of La Vallee, upon which her recollection had
been so intensely employed.

'Whither have you been rambling so early?' said Madame Cheron, as her
niece entered the breakfast-room. 'I don't approve of these solitary
walks;' and Emily was surprised, when, having informed her aunt, that
she had been no further than the gardens, she understood these to be
included in the reproof. 'I desire you will not walk there again at
so early an hour unattended,' said Madame Cheron; 'my gardens are
very extensive; and a young woman, who can make assignations by moon-
light, at La Vallee, is not to be trusted to her own inclinations

Emily, extremely surprised and shocked, had scarcely power to beg an
explanation of these words, and, when she did, her aunt absolutely
refused to give it, though, by her severe looks, and half sentences,
she appeared anxious to impress Emily with a belief, that she was
well informed of some degrading circumstances of her conduct.
Conscious innocence could not prevent a blush from stealing over
Emily's cheek; she trembled, and looked confusedly under the bold eye
of Madame Cheron, who blushed also; but hers was the blush of
triumph, such as sometimes stains the countenance of a person,
congratulating himself on the penetration which had taught him to
suspect another, and who loses both pity for the supposed criminal,
and indignation of his guilt, in the gratification of his own vanity.

Emily, not doubting that her aunt's mistake arose from the having
observed her ramble in the garden on the night preceding her
departure from La Vallee, now mentioned the motive of it, at which
Madame Cheron smiled contemptuously, refusing either to accept this
explanation, or to give her reasons for refusing it; and, soon after,
she concluded the subject by saying, 'I never trust people's
assertions, I always judge of them by their actions; but I am willing
to try what will be your behaviour in future.'

Emily, less surprised by her aunt's moderation and mysterious
silence, than by the accusation she had received, deeply considered
the latter, and scarcely doubted, that it was Valancourt whom she had
seen at night in the gardens of La Vallee, and that he had been
observed there by Madame Cheron; who now passing from one painful
topic only to revive another almost equally so, spoke of the
situation of her niece's property, in the hands of M. Motteville.
While she thus talked with ostentatious pity of Emily's misfortunes,
she failed not to inculcate the duties of humility and gratitude, or
to render Emily fully sensible of every cruel mortification, who soon
perceived, that she was to be considered as a dependant, not only by
her aunt, but by her aunt's servants.

She was now informed, that a large party were expected to dinner, on
which account Madame Cheron repeated the lesson of the preceding
night, concerning her conduct in company, and Emily wished, that she
might have courage enough to practise it. Her aunt then proceeded to
examine the simplicity of her dress, adding, that she expected to see
her attired with gaiety and taste; after which she condescended to
shew Emily the splendour of her chateau, and to point out the
particular beauty, or elegance, which she thought distinguished each
of her numerous suites of apartments. she then withdrew to her
toilet, the throne of her homage, and Emily to her chamber, to unpack
her books, and to try to charm her mind by reading, till the hour of

When the company arrived, Emily entered the saloon with an air of
timidity, which all her efforts could not overcome, and which was
increased by the consciousness of Madame Cheron's severe observation.
Her mourning dress, the mild dejection of her beautiful countenance,
and the retiring diffidence of her manner, rendered her a very
interesting object to many of the company; among whom she
distinguished Signor Montoni, and his friend Cavigni, the late
visitors at M. Quesnel's, who now seemed to converse with Madame
Cheron with the familiarity of old acquaintance, and she to attend to
them with particular pleasure.

This Signor Montoni had an air of conscious superiority, animated by
spirit, and strengthened by talents, to which every person seemed
involuntarily to yield. The quickness of his perceptions was
strikingly expressed on his countenance, yet that countenance could
submit implicitly to occasion; and, more than once in this day, the
triumph of art over nature might have been discerned in it. His
visage was long, and rather narrow, yet he was called handsome; and
it was, perhaps, the spirit and vigour of his soul, sparkling through
his features, that triumphed for him. Emily felt admiration, but not
the admiration that leads to esteem; for it was mixed with a degree
of fear she knew not exactly wherefore.

Cavigni was gay and insinuating as formerly; and, though he paid
almost incessant attention to Madame Cheron, he found some
opportunities of conversing with Emily, to whom he directed, at
first, the sallies of his wit, but now and then assumed an air of
tenderness, which she observed, and shrunk from. Though she replied
but little, the gentleness and sweetness of her manners encouraged
him to talk, and she felt relieved when a young lady of the party,
who spoke incessantly, obtruded herself on his notice. This lady,
who possessed all the sprightliness of a Frenchwoman, with all her
coquetry, affected to understand every subject, or rather there was
no affectation in the case; for, never looking beyond the limits of
her own ignorance, she believed she had nothing to learn. She
attracted notice from all; amused some, disgusted others for a
moment, and was then forgotten.

This day passed without any material occurrence; and Emily, though
amused by the characters she had seen, was glad when she could retire
to the recollections, which had acquired with her the character of

A fortnight passed in a round of dissipation and company, and Emily,
who attended Madame Cheron in all her visits, was sometimes
entertained, but oftener wearied. She was struck by the apparent
talents and knowledge displayed in the various conversations she
listened to, and it was long before she discovered, that the talents
were for the most part those of imposture, and the knowledge nothing
more than was necessary to assist them. But what deceived her most,
was the air of constant gaiety and good spirits, displayed by every
visitor, and which she supposed to arise from content as constant,
and from benevolence as ready. At length, from the over-acting of
some, less accomplished than the others, she could perceive, that,
though contentment and benevolence are the only sure sources of
cheerfulness, the immoderate and feverish animation, usually
exhibited in large parties, results partly from an insensibility to
the cares, which benevolence must sometimes derive from the
sufferings of others, and partly from a desire to display the
appearance of that prosperity, which they know will command
submission and attention to themselves.

Emily's pleasantest hours were passed in the pavilion of the terrace,
to which she retired, when she could steal from observation, with a
book to overcome, or a lute to indulge, her melancholy. There, as
she sat with her eyes fixed on the far-distant Pyrenees, and her
thoughts on Valancourt and the beloved scenes of Gascony, she would
play the sweet and melancholy songs of her native province--the
popular songs she had listened to from her childhood.

One evening, having excused herself from accompanying her aunt
abroad, she thus withdrew to the pavilion, with books and her lute.
It was the mild and beautiful evening of a sultry day, and the
windows, which fronted the west, opened upon all the glory of a
setting sun. Its rays illuminated, with strong splendour, the cliffs
of the Pyrenees, and touched their snowy tops with a roseate hue,
that remained, long after the sun had sunk below the horizon, and the
shades of twilight had stolen over the landscape. Emily touched her
lute with that fine melancholy expression, which came from her heart.
The pensive hour and the scene, the evening light on the Garonne,
that flowed at no great distance, and whose waves, as they passed
towards La Vallee, she often viewed with a sigh,--these united
circumstances disposed her mind to tenderness, and her thoughts were
with Valancourt, of whom she had heard nothing since her arrival at
Tholouse, and now that she was removed from him, and in uncertainty,
she perceived all the interest he held in her heart. Before she saw
Valancourt she had never met a mind and taste so accordant with her
own, and, though Madame Cheron told her much of the arts of
dissimulation, and that the elegance and propriety of thought, which
she so much admired in her lover, were assumed for the purpose of
pleasing her, she could scarcely doubt their truth. This
possibility, however, faint as it was, was sufficient to harass her
mind with anxiety, and she found, that few conditions are more
painful than that of uncertainty, as to the merit of a beloved
object; an uncertainty, which she would not have suffered, had her
confidence in her own opinions been greater.

She was awakened from her musing by the sound of horses' feet along a
road, that wound under the windows of the pavilion, and a gentleman
passed on horseback, whose resemblance to Valancourt, in air and
figure, for the twilight did not permit a view of his features,
immediately struck her. She retired hastily from the lattice,
fearing to be seen, yet wishing to observe further, while the
stranger passed on without looking up, and, when she returned to the
lattice, she saw him faintly through the twilight, winding under the
high trees, that led to Tholouse. This little incident so much
disturbed her spirits, that the temple and its scenery were no longer
interesting to her, and, after walking awhile on the terrace, she
returned to the chateau.

Madame Cheron, whether she had seen a rival admired, had lost at
play, or had witnessed an entertainment more splendid than her own,
was returned from her visit with a temper more than usually
discomposed; and Emily was glad, when the hour arrived, in which she
could retire to the solitude of her own apartment.

On the following morning, she was summoned to Madame Cheron, whose
countenance was inflamed with resentment, and, as Emily advanced, she
held out a letter to her.

'Do you know this hand?' said she, in a severe tone, and with a look
that was intended to search her heart, while Emily examined the
letter attentively, and assured her, that she did not.

'Do not provoke me,' said her aunt; 'you do know it, confess the
truth immediately. I insist upon your confessing the truth

Emily was silent, and turned to leave the room, but Madame called her
back. 'O you are guilty, then,' said she, 'you do know the hand.'
'If you was before in doubt of this, madam,' replied Emily calmly,
'why did you accuse me of having told a falsehood.' Madame Cheron
did not blush; but her niece did, a moment after, when she heard the
name of Valancourt. It was not, however, with the consciousness of
deserving reproof, for, if she ever had seen his hand-writing, the
present characters did not bring it to her recollection.

'It is useless to deny it,' said Madame Cheron, 'I see in your
countenance, that you are no stranger to this letter; and, I dare
say, you have received many such from this impertinent young man,
without my knowledge, in my own house.'

Emily, shocked at the indelicacy of this accusation, still more than
by the vulgarity of the former, instantly forgot the pride, that had
imposed silence, and endeavoured to vindicate herself from the
aspersion, but Madame Cheron was not to be convinced.

'I cannot suppose,' she resumed, 'that this young man would have
taken the liberty of writing to me, if you had not encouraged him to
do so, and I must now'--'You will allow me to remind you, madam,'
said Emily timidly, 'of some particulars of a conversation we had at
La Vallee. I then told you truly, that I had only not forbade
Monsieur Valancourt from addressing my family.'

'I will not be interrupted,' said Madame Cheron, interrupting her
niece, 'I was going to say--I--I-have forgot what I was going to say.
But how happened it that you did not forbid him?' Emily was silent.
'How happened it that you encouraged him to trouble me with this
letter?--A young man that nobody knows;--an utter stranger in the
place,--a young adventurer, no doubt, who is looking out for a good
fortune. However, on that point he has mistaken his aim.'

'His family was known to my father,' said Emily modestly, and without
appearing to be sensible of the last sentence.

'O! that is no recommendation at all,' replied her aunt, with her
usual readiness upon this topic; 'he took such strange fancies to
people! He was always judging persons by their countenances, and was
continually deceived.' 'Yet it was but now, madam, that you judged
me guilty by my countenance,' said Emily, with a design of reproving
Madame Cheron, to which she was induced by this disrespectful mention
of her father.

'I called you here,' resumed her aunt, colouring, 'to tell you, that
I will not be disturbed in my own house by any letters, or visits
from young men, who may take a fancy to flatter you. This M. de
Valantine--I think you call him, has the impertinence to beg I will
permit him to pay his respects to me! I shall send him a proper
answer. And for you, Emily, I repeat it once for all--if you are not
contented to conform to my directions, and to my way of live, I shall
give up the task of overlooking your conduct--I shall no longer
trouble myself with your education, but shall send you to board in a

'Dear madam,' said Emily, bursting into tears, and overcome by the
rude suspicions her aunt had expressed, 'how have I deserved these
reproofs?' She could say no more; and so very fearful was she of
acting with any degree of impropriety in the affair itself, that, at
the present moment, Madame Cheron might perhaps have prevailed with
her to bind herself by a promise to renounce Valancourt for ever.
Her mind, weakened by her terrors, would no longer suffer her to view
him as she had formerly done; she feared the error of her own
judgment, not that of Madame Cheron, and feared also, that, in her
former conversation with him, at La Vallee, she had not conducted
herself with sufficient reserve. She knew, that she did not deserve
the coarse suspicions, which her aunt had thrown out, but a thousand
scruples rose to torment her, such as would never have disturbed the
peace of Madame Cheron. Thus rendered anxious to avoid every
opportunity of erring, and willing to submit to any restrictions,
that her aunt should think proper, she expressed an obedience, to
which Madame Cheron did not give much confidence, and which she
seemed to consider as the consequence of either fear, or artifice.

'Well, then,' said she, 'promise me that you will neither see this
young man, nor write to him without my consent.' 'Dear madam,'
replied Emily, 'can you suppose I would do either, unknown to you!'
'I don't know what to suppose; there is no knowing how young women
will act. It is difficult to place any confidence in them, for they
have seldom sense enough to wish for the respect of the world.'

'Alas, madam!' said Emily, 'I am anxious for my own respect; my
father taught me the value of that; he said if I deserved my own
esteem, that the world would follow of course.'

'My brother was a good kind of a man,' replied Madame Cheron, 'but he
did not know the world. I am sure I have always felt a proper
respect for myself, yet--' she stopped, but she might have added,
that the world had not always shewn respect to her, and this without
impeaching its judgment.

'Well!' resumed Madame Cheron, 'you have not give me the promise,
though, that I demand.' Emily readily gave it, and, being then
suffered to withdraw, she walked in the garden; tried to compose her
spirits, and, at length, arrived at her favourite pavilion at the end
of the terrace, where, seating herself at one of the embowered
windows, that opened upon a balcony, the stillness and seclusion of
the scene allowed her to recollect her thoughts, and to arrange them
so as to form a clearer judgment of her former conduct. She
endeavoured to review with exactness all the particulars of her
conversation with Valancourt at La Vallee, had the satisfaction to
observe nothing, that could alarm her delicate pride, and thus to be
confirmed in the self-esteem, which was so necessary to her peace.
Her mind then became tranquil, and she saw Valancourt amiable and
intelligent, as he had formerly appeared, and Madame Cheron neither
the one, or the other. The remembrance of her lover, however,
brought with it many very painful emotions, for it by no means
reconciled her to the thought of resigning him; and, Madame Cheron
having already shewn how highly she disapproved of the attachment,
she foresaw much suffering from the opposition of interests; yet with
all this was mingled a degree of delight, which, in spite of reason,
partook of hope. She determined, however, that no consideration
should induce her to permit a clandestine correspondence, and to
observe in her conversation with Valancourt, should they ever meet
again, the same nicety of reserve, which had hitherto marked her
conduct. As she repeated the words--'should we ever meet again!' she
shrunk as if this was a circumstance, which had never before occurred
to her, and tears came to her eyes, which she hastily dried, for she
heard footsteps approaching, and then the door of the pavilion open,
and, on turning, she saw--Valancourt. An emotion of mingled
pleasure, surprise and apprehension pressed so suddenly upon her
heart as almost to overcome her spirits; the colour left her cheeks,
then returned brighter than before, and she was for a moment unable
to speak, or to rise from her chair. His countenance was the mirror,
in which she saw her own emotions reflected, and it roused her to
self-command. The joy, which had animated his features, when he
entered the pavilion, was suddenly repressed, as, approaching, he
perceived her agitation, and, in a tremulous voice, enquired after
her health. Recovered from her first surprise, she answered him with
a tempered smile; but a variety of opposite emotions still assailed
her heart, and struggled to subdue the mild dignity of her manner.
It was difficult to tell which predominated--the joy of seeing
Valancourt, or the terror of her aunt's displeasure, when she should
hear of this meeting. After some short and embarrassed conversation,
she led him into the gardens, and enquired if he had seen Madame
Cheron. 'No,' said he, 'I have not yet seen her, for they told me
she was engaged, and as soon as I learned that you were in the
gardens, I came hither.' He paused a moment, in great agitation, and
then added, 'May I venture to tell you the purport of my visit,
without incurring your displeasure, and to hope, that you will not
accuse me of precipitation in now availing myself of the permission
you once gave me of addressing your family?' Emily, who knew not
what to reply, was spared from further perplexity, and was sensible
only of fear, when on raising her eyes, she saw Madame Cheron turn
into the avenue. As the consciousness of innocence returned, this
fear was so far dissipated as to permit her to appear tranquil, and,
instead of avoiding her aunt, she advanced with Valancourt to meet
her. The look of haughty and impatient displeasure, with which
Madame Cheron regarded them, made Emily shrink, who understood from a
single glance, that this meeting was believed to have been more than
accidental: having mentioned Valancourt's name, she became again too
much agitated to remain with them, and returned into the chateau;
where she awaited long, in a state of trembling anxiety, the
conclusion of the conference. She knew not how to account for
Valancourt's visit to her aunt, before he had received the permission
he solicited, since she was ignorant of a circumstance, which would
have rendered the request useless, even if Madame Cheron had been
inclined to grant it. Valancourt, in the agitation of his spirits,
had forgotten to date his letter, so that it was impossible for
Madame Cheron to return an answer; and, when he recollected this
circumstance, he was, perhaps, not so sorry for the omission as glad
of the excuse it allowed him for waiting on her before she could send
a refusal.

Madame Cheron had a long conversation with Valancourt, and, when she
returned to the chateau, her countenance expressed ill-humour, but
not the degree of severity, which Emily had apprehended. 'I have
dismissed this young man, at last,' said she, 'and I hope my house
will never again be disturbed with similar visits. He assures me,
that your interview was not preconcerted.'

'Dear madam!' said Emily in extreme emotion, 'you surely did not ask
him the question!' 'Most certainly I did; you could not suppose I
should be so imprudent as to neglect it.'

'Good God!' exclaimed Emily, 'what an opinion must he form of me,
since you, Madam, could express a suspicion of such ill conduct!'

'It is of very little consequence what opinion he may form of you,'
replied her aunt, 'for I have put an end to the affair; but I believe
he will not form a worse opinion of me for my prudent conduct. I let
him see, that I was not to be trifled with, and that I had more
delicacy, than to permit any clandestine correspondence to be carried
on in my house.'

Emily had frequently heard Madame Cheron use the word delicacy, but
she was now more than usually perplexed to understand how she meant
to apply it in this instance, in which her whole conduct appeared to
merit the very reverse of the term.

'It was very inconsiderate of my brother,' resumed Madame Cheron, 'to
leave the trouble of overlooking your conduct to me; I wish you was
well settled in life. But if I find, that I am to be further
troubled with such visitors as this M. Valancourt, I shall place you
in a convent at once;--so remember the alternative. This young man
has the impertinence to own to me,--he owns it! that his fortune is
very small, and that he is chiefly dependent on an elder brother and
on the profession he has chosen! He should have concealed these
circumstances, at least, if he expected to succeed with me. Had he
the presumption to suppose I would marry my niece to a person such as
he describes himself!'

Emily dried her tears when she heard of the candid confession of
Valancourt; and, though the circumstances it discovered were
afflicting to her hopes, his artless conduct gave her a degree of
pleasure, that overcame every other emotion. But she was compelled,
even thus early in life, to observe, that good sense and noble
integrity are not always sufficient to cope with folly and narrow
cunning; and her heart was pure enough to allow her, even at this
trying moment, to look with more pride on the defeat of the former,
than with mortification on the conquests of the latter.

Madame Cheron pursued her triumph. 'He has also thought proper to
tell me, that he will receive his dismission from no person but
yourself; this favour, however, I have absolutely refused him. He
shall learn, that it is quite sufficient, that I disapprove him. And
I take this opportunity of repeating,--that if you concert any means
of interview unknown to me, you shall leave my house immediately.'

'How little do you know me, madam, that you should think such an
injunction necessary!' said Emily, trying to suppress her emotion,
'how little of the dear parents, who educated me!'

Madame Cheron now went to dress for an engagement, which she had made
for the evening; and Emily, who would gladly have been excused from
attending her aunt, did not ask to remain at home lest her request
should be attributed to an improper motive. When she retired to her
own room, the little fortitude, which had supported her in the
presence of her relation, forsook her; she remembered only that
Valancourt, whose character appeared more amiable from every
circumstance, that unfolded it, was banished from her presence,
perhaps, for ever, and she passed the time in weeping, which,
according to her aunt's direction, she ought to have employed in
dressing. This important duty was, however, quickly dispatched;
though, when she joined Madame Cheron at table, her eyes betrayed,
that she had been in tears, and drew upon her a severe reproof.

Her efforts to appear cheerful did not entirely fail when she joined
the company at the house of Madame Clairval, an elderly widow lady,
who had lately come to reside at Tholouse, on an estate of her late
husband. She had lived many years at Paris in a splendid style; had
naturally a gay temper, and, since her residence at Tholouse, had
given some of the most magnificent entertainments, that had been seen
in that neighbourhood.

These excited not only the envy, but the trifling ambition of Madame
Cheron, who, since she could not rival the splendour of her
festivities, was desirous of being ranked in the number of her most
intimate friends. For this purpose she paid her the most obsequious
attention, and made a point of being disengaged, whenever she
received an invitation from Madame Clairval, of whom she talked,
wherever she went, and derived much self-consequence from impressing
a belief on her general acquaintance, that they were on the most
familiar footing.

The entertainments of this evening consisted of a ball and supper; it
was a fancy ball, and the company danced in groups in the gardens,
which were very extensive. The high and luxuriant trees, under which
the groups assembled, were illuminated with a profusion of lamps,
disposed with taste and fancy. The gay and various dresses of the
company, some of whom were seated on the turf, conversing at their
ease, observing the cotillons, taking refreshments, and sometimes
touching sportively a guitar; the gallant manners of the gentlemen,
the exquisitely capricious air of the ladies; the light fantastic
steps of their dances; the musicians, with the lute, the hautboy, and
the tabor, seated at the foot of an elm, and the sylvan scenery of
woods around were circumstances, that unitedly formed a
characteristic and striking picture of French festivity. Emily
surveyed the gaiety of the scene with a melancholy kind of pleasure,
and her emotion may be imagined when, as she stood with her aunt,
looking at one of the groups, she perceived Valancourt; saw him
dancing with a young and beautiful lady, saw him conversing with her
with a mixture of attention and familiarity, such as she had seldom
observed in his manner. She turned hastily from the scene, and
attempted to draw away Madame Cheron, who was conversing with Signor
Cavigni, and neither perceived Valancourt, or was willing to be
interrupted. A faintness suddenly came over Emily, and, unable to
support herself, she sat down on a turf bank beneath the trees, where
several other persons were seated. One of these, observing the
extreme paleness of her countenance, enquired if she was ill, and
begged she would allow him to fetch her a glass of water, for which
politeness she thanked him, but did not accept it. Her apprehension
lest Valancourt should observe her emotion made her anxious to
overcome it, and she succeeded so far as to re-compose her
countenance. Madame Cheron was still conversing with Cavigni; and
the Count Bauvillers, who had addressed Emily, made some observations
upon the scene, to which she answered almost unconsciously, for her
mind was still occupied with the idea of Valancourt, to whom it was
with extreme uneasiness that she remained so near. Some remarks,
however, which the Count made upon the dance obliged her to turn her
eyes towards it, and, at that moment, Valancourt's met hers. Her
colour faded again, she felt, that she was relapsing into faintness,
and instantly averted her looks, but not before she had observed the
altered countenance of Valancourt, on perceiving her. She would have
left the spot immediately, had she not been conscious, that this
conduct would have shewn him more obviously the interest he held in
her heart; and, having tried to attend to the Count's conversation,
and to join in it, she, at length, recovered her spirits. But, when
he made some observation on Valancourt's partner, the fear of shewing
that she was interested in the remark, would have betrayed it to him,
had not the Count, while he spoke, looked towards the person of whom
he was speaking. 'The lady,' said he, 'dancing with that young
Chevalier, who appears to be accomplished in every thing, but in
dancing, is ranked among the beauties of Tholouse. She is handsome,
and her fortune will be very large. I hope she will make a better
choice in a partner for life than she has done in a partner for the
dance, for I observe he has just put the set into great confusion; he
does nothing but commit blunders. I am surprised, that, with his air
and figure, he has not taken more care to accomplish himself in

Emily, whose heart trembled at every word, that was now uttered,
endeavoured to turn the conversation from Valancourt, by enquiring
the name of the lady, with whom he danced; but, before the Count
could reply, the dance concluded, and Emily, perceiving that
Valancourt was coming towards her, rose and joined Madame Cheron.

'Here is the Chevalier Valancourt, madam,' said she in a whisper,
'pray let us go.' Her aunt immediately moved on, but not before
Valancourt had reached them, who bowed lowly to Madame Cheron, and
with an earnest and dejected look to Emily, with whom,
notwithstanding all her effort, an air of more than common reserve
prevailed. The presence of Madame Cheron prevented Valancourt from
remaining, and he passed on with a countenance, whose melancholy
reproached her for having increased it. Emily was called from the
musing fit, into which she had fallen, by the Count Bauvillers, who
was known to her aunt.

'I have your pardon to beg, ma'amselle,' said he, 'for a rudeness,
which you will readily believe was quite unintentional. I did not
know, that the Chevalier was your acquaintance, when I so freely
criticised his dancing.' Emily blushed and smiled, and Madame Cheron
spared her the difficulty of replying. 'If you mean the person, who
has just passed us,' said she, 'I can assure you he is no
acquaintance of either mine, or ma'amselle St. Aubert's: I know
nothing of him.'

'O! that is the Chevalier Valancourt,' said Cavigni carelessly, and
looking back. 'You know him then?' said Madame Cheron. 'I am not
acquainted with him,' replied Cavigni. 'You don't know, then, the
reason I have to call him impertinent;--he has had the presumption to
admire my niece!'

'If every man deserves the title of impertinent, who admires
ma'amselle St. Aubert,' replied Cavigni, 'I fear there are a great
many impertinents, and I am willing to acknowledge myself one of the

'O Signor!' said Madame Cheron, with an affected smile, 'I perceive
you have learnt the art of complimenting, since you came into France.
But it is cruel to compliment children, since they mistake flattery
for truth.'

Cavigni turned away his face for a moment, and then said with a
studied air, 'Whom then are we to compliment, madam? for it would be
absurd to compliment a woman of refined understanding; SHE is above
all praise.' As he finished the sentence he gave Emily a sly look,
and the smile, that had lurked in his eye, stole forth. She
perfectly understood it, and blushed for Madame Cheron, who replied,
'You are perfectly right, signor, no woman of understanding can
endure compliment.'

'I have heard Signor Montoni say,' rejoined Cavigni, 'that he never
knew but one woman who deserved it.'

'Well!' exclaimed Madame Cheron, with a short laugh, and a smile of
unutterable complacency, 'and who could she be?'

'O!' replied Cavigni, 'it is impossible to mistake her, for certainly
there is not more than one woman in the world, who has both the merit
to deserve compliment and the wit to refuse it. Most women reverse
the case entirely.' He looked again at Emily, who blushed deeper
than before for her aunt, and turned from him with displeasure.

'Well, signor!' said Madame Cheron, 'I protest you are a Frenchman; I
never heard a foreigner say any thing half so gallant as that!'

'True, madam,' said the Count, who had been some time silent, and
with a low bow, 'but the gallantry of the compliment had been utterly
lost, but for the ingenuity that discovered the application.'

Madame Cheron did not perceive the meaning of this too satirical
sentence, and she, therefore, escaped the pain, which Emily felt on
her account. 'O! here comes Signor Montoni himself,' said her aunt,
'I protest I will tell him all the fine things you have been saying
to me.' The Signor, however, passed at this moment into another
walk. 'Pray, who is it, that has so much engaged your friend this
evening?' asked Madame Cheron, with an air of chagrin, 'I have not
seen him once.'

'He had a very particular engagement with the Marquis La Riviere,'
replied Cavigni, 'which has detained him, I perceive, till this
moment, or he would have done himself the honour of paying his
respects to you, madam, sooner, as he commissioned me to say. But, I
know not how it is--your conversation is so fascinating--that it can
charm even memory, I think, or I should certainly have delivered my
friend's apology before.'

'The apology, sir, would have been more satisfactory from himself,'
said Madame Cheron, whose vanity was more mortified by Montoni's
neglect, than flattered by Cavigni's compliment. Her manner, at this
moment, and Cavigni's late conversation, now awakened a suspicion in
Emily's mind, which, notwithstanding that some recollections served
to confirm it, appeared preposterous. She thought she perceived,
that Montoni was paying serious addresses to her aunt, and that she
not only accepted them, but was jealously watchful of any appearance
of neglect on his part.--That Madame Cheron at her years should elect
a second husband was ridiculous, though her vanity made it not
impossible; but that Montoni, with his discernment, his figure, and
pretensions, should make a choice of Madame Cheron--appeared most
wonderful. Her thoughts, however, did not dwell long on the subject;
nearer interests pressed upon them; Valancourt, rejected of her aunt,
and Valancourt dancing with a gay and beautiful partner, alternately
tormented her mind. As she passed along the gardens she looked
timidly forward, half fearing and half hoping that he might appear in
the crowd; and the disappointment she felt on not seeing him, told
her, that she had hoped more than she had feared.

Montoni soon after joined the party. He muttered over some short
speech about regret for having been so long detained elsewhere, when
he knew he should have the pleasure of seeing Madame Cheron here; and
she, receiving the apology with the air of a pettish girl, addressed
herself entirely to Cavigni, who looked archly at Montoni, as if he

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