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

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"Who amongst this merry party will become sufficiently sober to assist
me in a work of charity?" was Mrs. Hamilton's address, one afternoon, as
she entered her daughter's room, where Emmeline, her young friends Lady
Florence and Lady Emily Lyle, and even the usually quiet Ellen, were
employing themselves in drawing, embroidery, and such light amusements
as diligently as the merry speech, the harmless joke, and the joyous
laugh of truly innocent enjoyment would permit.

"A case of extreme distress has come before me," she continued, "for
which alms and other relief will not be sufficient; clothing is
principally required. Can any of you consent to put aside these pretty
things for a few days, merely for the sake of obliging me and doing
good? I have set every hand to work, and now for further assistance come
to you. To whom shall I appeal?"

"To me--to me--to me!" every voice exclaimed spontaneously, and they
eagerly crowded round her to know what she required, what case of
distress had occurred, for whom they were to work.

Gratified and pleased at their eagerness, Mrs. Hamilton smilingly
imparted all they wished to know. The simple tale drew from the artless
group many exclamations of pity, combined with the earnest desire to
relieve in whatever way their kind friend would dictate, and their task
was received by all with every demonstration of pleasure.

"You, too, Ellen," said Mrs. Hamilton, smiling; "I thought you once said
you had no time for work."

"Not for ornamental work, aunt! but I hope you have never asked in vain
for my assistance in such a case as this," answered Ellen, blushing as
she spoke.

"No, love; my words did you injustice. But you appear to have found time
for ornamental work also, if this very pretty wreath be yours," said
Mrs. Hamilton, bending over her niece's frame, and praising the delicacy
of her flowers.

"Oh, I have time for any and everything now," exclaimed Ellen, in a tone
of animation, so very unusual, that not only her aunt but her young
companions looked at her with astonishment.

"Ellen, yon are becoming more and more incomprehensible," said Emmeline,
laughing. "If Edward do not come home soon, as I suspect this
extraordinary mood is occasioned by the anticipation of his arrival, I
am afraid your spirits will carry you half way over the Channel to meet
him. Mamma, take my advice, and keep a strict watch over the person of
your niece."

"You know, Ellen, you are as full of fun and mischief as I am, quiet and
demure as we once thought you," said Lady Emily.

"Is she? I am glad of it," said Mrs. Hamilton, playfully. "Do not look
so very much ashamed of your mirth, my dear Ellen, and bend over your
work as if you had been guilty of some extraordinary misdemeanour. You
know how pleased I always am to see you happy, Ellen," she added, in a
lower voice, as she laid her hand sportively on her niece's head, which
was bent down to conceal the confusion Emmeline's words had called

Some little time longer Mrs. Hamilton remained with the young party,
entering with her usual kindness into all their pleasures and pursuits,
and left them perhaps even happier than she had found them.

Ellen's change of manner had been noticed by the whole party assembled
at Oakwood; and by most of them attributed to the anticipation of the
long-absent Edward's return. That indefinable manner which had formerly
pervaded her whole conduct had disappeared. She no longer seemed to have
something weighing on her mind, which Mrs. Hamilton sometimes fancied to
have been the case. Cheerful, animated, at times even joyous, she
appeared a happier being than she had ever been before; and sincerely
her aunt and uncle, who really loved her as their child, rejoiced in the
change, though they knew not, guessed not the real cause. Ingratiating
herself with all, even the stern Duchess of Rothbury, who, with her now
only unmarried daughter, Lady Lucy, had accepted Mrs Hamilton's pressing
invitation to Oakwood, relaxed in her manner towards her; and Sir George
Wilmot, also a resident guest, declared that if Edward were not proud of
his sister on his return, he would do all in his power to hinder his

Mr. Hamilton and his family had employed the greater part of a very
beautiful August in conducting their guests to all the most picturesque
and favourite spots in the vicinity of Oakwood. About a week after the
circumstance we have narrated, St. Eval and Lady Gertrude joined them
in the morning of a proposed excursion, which included the whole party,
with the exception of Mrs. Hamilton and Ellen. The Earl and his sister
had been instantly enlisted as a most agreeable reinforcement; nor was
the young Earl very sorry for an excuse to spend a whole day in enjoying
the beauties of Nature _tete-a-tete_ with his betrothed, who, since the
candid explanation of her agitation on first hearing of Annie's
elopement, for which her knowledge of Lord Alphingham's former marriage
had well accounted, had become if possible dearer than ever; and this
excursion was indeed one of perfect enjoyment to both.

Ellen, for some unaccountable reason, which her young friends could
neither penetrate nor conceive, refused to accompany them, declaring
that most important business kept her at home.

"Edward will not come to-day, so do not expect him," had been Emmeline's
parting words.

The ruralizing party were to dine amid the ruins of Berry Pomeroy, and
were not expected home till dusk, to a substantial tea.

It might have been seven in the evening that Ellen quietly entered the
library, where her aunt was engaged in writing, and stood by her side in
silence, as if fearful of interrupting by addressing her.

"Wait a few minutes, my love, and I shall be ready to attend to you, if
you require my assistance in the arrangement of your work," Mrs.
Hamilton said, alluding to the parcel of baby-linen she perceived in her
niece's hand. Ellen smiled and obeyed. In a few minutes Mrs. Hamilton
laid aside her writing, and looked up, as if expecting her niece would

"Well, Ellen, what grand difficulty can you not overcome?"

"None, my dear aunt. My task is done; I only want your approval,"
replied Ellen.

"Done!" repeated her aunt, in an accent of astonishment. "My dear Ellen,
it is impossible; I only gave it you a week ago. You must have worked
all night to finish it"

"Indeed I have not," replied Ellen, quickly yet earnestly.

"Then I certainly must examine every little article," said Mrs.
Hamilton, laughing, "or I shall decidedly fancy this extreme rapidity
cannot have been productive of neatness, which last I rather prefer to
the first."

Ellen submitted her work to her scrutiny, without reply, and remained
kneeling on a stool at her aunt's feet, without any apprehension as to
the sentence that would be pronounced.

"Really, Ellen, I shall incline to Emmeline's opinion, and believe some
magic is at work within you," was Mrs. Hamilton's observation, as she
folded up the tiny suit with very evident marks of satisfaction. "How
you have acquired the power of working thus neatly and rapidly, when I
have scarcely ever seen a needle in your hand, I cannot comprehend. I
will appoint you my sempstress-general, in addition to bestowing my
really sincere thanks for the assistance you have afforded me."

Ellen pressed her aunt's hand to her lips in silence, for an emotion
Mrs. Hamilton beheld, but could not understand, choked her voice.

"What is the matter, love? has anything occurred to annoy you to-day?
You look paler and more sad than usual; tell me what it is."

"Do you remember what--what chanced--have you forgotten the event that
took place this very day, this very hour, in this very room, three years
ago?" demanded Ellen, almost inaudibly, and her cheek blanched to the
colour of her robe as she spoke.

"Why recall the painful past at such a moment, my sweet girl? has it not
been redeemed by three years of undeviating rectitude and virtue? I had
hoped the recollection had ere this long ceased to disturb you," replied
Mrs. Hamilton, with much feeling, as she pressed her lips to her niece's

"It never can, it never will, unless--unless--" Strong and almost
fearful emotion prevented all she had wished to say, and throwing into
Mrs. Hamilton's lap a small calf-skin pocket-book, she flung her arms
round her neck, and burying her face in her bosom, murmured, in a voice
choked with sobs, "The amount of all I took is there--all--all. Oh, take
it, and let me thus feel it as a debt which I have paid."

"Ellen, my own Ellen, be composed," entreated Mrs. Hamilton, alarmed by
the extreme agitation she beheld. "Tell me, love, what are the contents
of this pocket-book? why do you entreat me so earnestly to take it?"

Struggling violently with herself, Ellen tore open the little book, and
placed in her aunt's hand bank notes to the amount of those which had
once been so fatal a temptation.

"They are mine--all mine. I have gained them honestly; indeed, indeed I
have; I have worked for them. It was to gain time for this I refused to
go out with you last winter. I had hoped my long, long task would have
been done before, but it was not. Oh, I thought I should never, never
gain the whole amount, but I have now; and, oh, tell me I have in part
redeemed my sin; tell me I am more worthy of your love, your kindness;
tell me I am again indeed your own happy Ellen."

She would have said more, but no words came at her command, and Mrs.
Hamilton remained silent for a few minutes, in surprise and admiration.

"My Ellen, my own much-loved Ellen!" she exclaimed at length, and tears
of unfeigned emotion mingled with the repeated kisses she imprinted on
her niece's cheek, "this moment has indeed repaid me for all. Little did
I imagine in what manner you were employed, the nature of your tedious
task. How could you contrive to keep it thus secret from me? what time
could you find to work thus laboriously, when not one study or
employment have I seen neglected?"

"I thought at first I never should succeed," replied Ellen, her strong
emotion greatly calmed; "for while Miss Harcourt remained with us, I had
only two hours before prayers in the morning, and sometimes I have
ventured to sit up an hour or two later at night; but not often, for I
feared you would discover me, and be displeased, for I could not, dared
not tell you in what I was employed. The winter before last I earned so
much from embroidery and finer kinds of work, that I thought I should
have obtained the whole a year ago; but I was disappointed, for here I
could only do plain work, at which I earned but little, for I could not
do it so quickly. I had hoped there would have been no occasion to
refuse your wish, that I should accompany you and Emmeline, but I found
the whole amount was still far from completed, and I was compelled to
act as I did."

"And is it possible, my Ellen, you have intrusted your secret to no one;
have demanded no sympathy, no encouragement in this long and painful

"I could not have accomplished nor did I commence it, without the kind
assistance and advice of Ellis. My dear aunt, I knew, reposed great
confidence in her, and I thought if she did not disapprove of my plan, I
should not be acting so very independently, and that with her assistance
my secret would not be so difficult to keep: she procured me employment.
My name nor my reasons for seeking it were never known to those for whom
I worked."

"And could she approve of a task such as this, my Ellen? Could she
counsel such painful self-denial and tedious labour?"

"She did all she could to dissuade, and at first positively refused to
assist me; but at last yielded to my entreaties, for she saw I never
should be happy till I could look on the past more as a debt
than--than--" She paused, then added--"My own spirit rebelled enough;
that was far more difficult to overcome than other dissuasions."

"And what strong impulse could have urged you to this course of
self-denial, my sweet girl? I know not yet whether I shall not scold you
for this almost needless infliction of pain, and for the deception it
involves towards me," said Mrs. Hamilton, with reproachful tenderness.

"Forgive me, oh, forgive me that!" exclaimed Ellen, clasping the hand
she held. "I have often and often felt I was deceiving you; failing in
that confidence I had promised you should never have again to demand;
but I dared not tell you, for I knew you would have prohibited the
continuance of my task."

"I should indeed, my Ellen; and tell me why you have done this. Was it
indeed because you imagined nothing else could atone for the past?"

"Because I felt--I knew, though I was restored to your favour, your
confidence, my conscience was not at peace, because I had read, '_If the
wicked restore the pledge, give again that which he had robbed, walk in
the statutes of life, without committing iniquity, he shall surely live,
he shall not die_;' and I felt, however I might endeavour to be virtuous
and good, till I had given again that which I had robbed, I dared not
implore the mercy of my God."

It is impossible to do justice by mere description to the plaintive
eloquence, to the mournfully-expressive voice with which these simple
words were said, betraying at once those thoughts and feelings which had
been so long concealed in Ellen's meek and youthful heart, the hidden
spring from which her every action had emanated; Mrs. Hamilton felt its
power, the sentiment was too exalted, too holy for human praise. She
folded her niece to her bosom.

"May the Almighty searcher of hearts accept this sacrifice and bless
you, my dear child. Secretly, unostentatiously, it has been done. Pure
must have been the thoughts which were yours when thus employed, when
such was their origin, and we may hope, indeed, they have been accepted.
Had no self-denial attended the payment of your debt, had you merely
entreated your uncle to repay himself from the fortune you possess, I
would not have accepted it; such a payment would neither have been
acceptable to me, nor to Him whom, I firmly believe, my Ellen sought
more to please. But when every action the last few years has proved to
me, the words you repeated have indeed been the foundation of this
self-conquest, I cannot but humbly, trustingly, think it will be an
accepted offering on high. Nor will I refuse to comply with your
request, my dearest Ellen; I will receive that which you have so
perseveringly and so painfully earned; it shall be employed in
purchasing prayers for us all, from those whom it may relieve. Let not
the recollection of the past again disturb you, my sweet child.
Solicitude and pain you indeed once caused me, but this moment has
redeemed it all. Continue thus undeviatingly to follow the blessed path
you have chosen, and our Ellen is and ever will be deserving of all the
love which those to whom she is so dear can lavish upon her."

For a few minutes there was silence, for the solemnity with which she
spoke had touched a responding chord; but the thoughts of the orphan
arose to heaven, silently petitioning for grace to continue in that
blessed path of which her aunt had spoken, in thankfulness for having
been permitted to conclude her painful task, and thus obtained the
approbation of her more than mother, the relative she so revered and

"And this, then, was the long task which your numerous avocations during
the day prevented your completing, and you therefore took the time from
that allotted to recreation and amusement--this, which so strongly
emboldened my little Ellen, that even my coldness had no effect, except
to make her miserable. What do you not deserve for thus deceiving me? I
do not think I know any punishment sufficiently severe." Mrs. Hamilton
had recalled all her playfulness, for she wished to banish every trace
of sadness and emotion from the countenance of her niece. Ellen raised
her head to answer her in her own playful tone, when they were both
startled by the declining light of day being suddenly obscured, as if by
the shadow of a figure standing by the open window near them. It was,
however, so dark, that the outlines of the intruder were alone visible,
and they would have been unrecognised by any, save by the eye of

Ellen sprung suddenly to her feet. "Edward!" burst gladly from her lips,
and in another second a fine manly youth had darted through the open
casement, and the long parted brother and sister were in each other's
arms. For a minute only Ellen was pressed in his embrace, and then
releasing her, he turned towards his aunt, and even as a devoted mother,
a fond and dutiful son, they met, for such had they been in the long
years of separation. Frequently had that high-spirited boy been tempted
to error and to sin, but as a talisman had her letters been. He thought
on the years that were passed, on their last interview, when every word
had graven itself upon his heart, on the devotedness of his orphan
sister, the misery he had once occasioned; he thought on these things,
and stood firm,--the tempter fled. He stood before them erect in
youthful beauty, no inward stain bade him turn from those fond looks or
shrink from the entwining arms of his young sister. And, oh, how blessed
is it thus to meet! to feel that vanished years have not estranged us,
distance has not diminished love, that we are to each other even as we
parted; to feel again the fond kiss, to hear once more the accents of a
voice which to us has been for years so still,--a voice that brings
with it the gush of memory! Past days flit before us; feelings,
thoughts, hopes, we deemed were dead, all rise again, summoned by that
secret witchery, the well-remembered though long silent voice. Let
years, long, lingering, saddening years drag on their chain, let youth
have given place to manhood, manhood to age, still will it be the
same--the voice we once have loved, and deemed to us for ever still--oh,
time, and grief, and blighted hope will be forgotten, and youth, in its
undimmed and joyous beauty, its glow of generous feelings, its bright
anticipations, all, all again be ours.

"Mother; yes, now indeed may I call you mother!" exclaimed Edward, when
the agitation of this sudden meeting had subsided, and he found himself
seated on a sofa between his aunt and sister, clasping the hand of the
former and twining his arm caressingly round the latter. "Now indeed may
I indulge in the joy it is to behold you both again; now may I stand
forth unshrinkingly to meet my uncle's glance, no guilt, or shame, or
fear has cast its mist upon my heart. This was your gift," he drew a
small Bible from his bosom. "I read it, first, because it had been
yours, because it was dear to you, and then came other and holier
thoughts, and I bowed down before the God you worshipped, and implored
His aid to find strength, and He heard me."

Mrs. Hamilton pressed his hand, but spoke not, and after a brief
silence, Edward, changing his tone and his subject, launched at once,
with all his natural liveliness, into a hurried tale of his voyage to
England. An unusually quick passage gave him and all the youngsters the
opportunity they desired, of returning to their various homes quite
unexpectedly. The vessel had only arrived off Plymouth the previous
night, or rather morning, for it was two o'clock; by noon the ship was
dismantled, the crew dismissed, leave of absence being granted to all.
And for the first time in his life, he laughingly declared he fancied
being the captain's favourite very annoying, as his presence and
assistance were requested at a time when his heart was at Oakwood;
however, he was released at last, procured a horse, and galloped away.
His disasters were not, however, over; his horse fell lame, as if,
Edward said, he felt a seaman was not a fit master for him. He was
necessitated to leave the poor animal to the care of a cottager, and
proceed on foot, avoiding the village, for fear of being recognised
before he desired; he exercised his memory by going through the lanes,
and reached Oakwood by a private entrance. Astonished at seeing the
rooms, by the windows of which he passed, deserted, he began to fear the
family were all in London; but the well-known sound of his aunt's voice
drew him to the library, just as he was seeking the main entrance to
have his doubts solved. He stood for a few minutes gazing on the two
beings who, more vividly than any others, had haunted his dreams by
night and visions by day; he had wished to meet them first, and alone,
and his wish was granted.

Wrapped in her happy feelings, it was her brother's arm around her, her
brother's voice she heard, Ellen listened to him in trembling eagerness,
scarcely venturing to breathe, lest that dear voice should be still,
lest the hand she clasped should fade away, and she should wake and find
it but a dream of bliss--Edward could not really have returned; and Mrs.
Hamilton felt emotion so powerfully swelling within, as she gazed once
more on the brave preserver of her husband, the child of her sister, her
very image, that it was with difficulty she could ask those many
questions which affection and interest prompted.

Edward had scarcely, however, finished his tale, before the sound of
many and eager voices, the joyous laugh, and other signs of youthful
hilarity, announced the return of the party from their excursion. Nor
was it long before Emmeline's voice, as usual, sounded in loud laughing
accents for her mother, without whose sympathy no pleasure was complete.

"Do not disturb yourselves yet, my dear children," Mrs. Hamilton said,
as she rose, knowing well how many, many things the long-separated
orphans must have mutually to tell, and penetrating with that ready
sympathy--the offspring of true kindness--their wish for a short time to
remain alone together. "You shall not be summoned to join us till tea is
quite ready, and if you wish it, Edward," she added, with a smile, "you
shall have the pleasure of startling your uncle and cousins as agreeably
as you did us. I will control my desire to proclaim the happy tidings of
your safe return."

She left the brother and sister together, sending Robert with, a lamp,
that they might have the gratification of seeing each other, which the
increasing darkness had as yet entirely prevented; and a gratification
to both it was indeed. Edward had left his sister comparatively well,
but with the traces of her severe illness still remaining vividly
impressed upon her features; but now he saw her radiant in health, in
happiness, and beauty so brilliant, he could hardly recognise that fair
and graceful girl for the ailing, drooping child she had once been. Nor
or was the contrast less striking between the Ellen of the present
meeting and the Ellen of the last; then wretchedness, misery, inward
fever, consumed her outward frame, and left its scorching brand upon her
brow. Remorseful anguish had bowed her down; and now he had returned
when her heart was free and light as the mountain breeze, her
self-inspired penance was completed; and nothing now existed to make her
shrink from the delight of devoting hours to her brother.

"Tell James to go over to the Rectory, with my compliments to Mr.
Howard, and if he be not particularly engaged, I beg he will join us
this evening," said Mrs. Hamilton, a short time after she had left the
library, addressing Martyn, then crossing the hall.

"Have you any particular wish for our worthy rector this evening,
Emmeline?" demanded Mr. Hamilton, gazing, as he spoke, with admiration
and surprise on the countenance of his wife, whose expressive features
vainly strove to conceal internal happiness.

"A most earnest desire," she replied, smiling somewhat archly.

"Indeed, I am curious"--

"I am sorry, dear Arthur, for I am no advocate for curiosity, and cannot
indulge it."

"Ah, papa, there is a gentle hint for you, and a broader one for me,"
exclaimed Emmeline, laughing; while conjectures as to what Mrs.
Hamilton's business with the rector could possibly be, employed the time
merrily till the whole party were assembled.

"You may depend, Emmeline, it is to arrange all the necessary minutiae
for your marriage," said Lord St. Eval, who had been persuaded to remain
at Oakwood that night. "Your mother has selected a husband for you;
and, fearing your opposition, has sent for Mr. Howard that all may be
said and done at once."

"I hope, then, that I am the man," exclaimed Lord Louis, laughing;
"there is no one else whom she can very well have at heart, not that I
see," he added, looking mischievously round him, while some strange and
painful emotions suddenly checked Emmeline's flow of spirits, and
utterly prevented her replying.

A flush of crimson dyed her cheek and brow; nay, her fair neck partook
its hue, and she suddenly turned towards her mother, with a glance that
seemed of entreaty.

"Why, Emmeline, my dear child, you surely cannot believe there is the
least particle of truth in my mischievous son's assertion?" said the
Marchioness of Malvern, pitying, though she wondered at her very evident

"And is marriage so very disagreeable to you even in thought?" demanded
Lord St. Eval, still provokingly.

"The very idea is dreadful; I love my liberty too well," answered
Emmeline, hastily rallying her energies with an effort, and she ran on
in her usual careless style; but her eye glanced on the tall figure of
young Myrvin, as he stood with Herbert at a distant window, and words
and liveliness again for a moment failed. His arms were folded on his
bosom, and his grey eye rested on her with an expression almost of
despair, for the careless words of Lord Louis had reached his heart--"No
one else she can have."

Lord Louis had forgotten him, or intentionally reminded him that he was
indeed as a cypher in that noble circle; that he might not, dared not
aspire to that fair hand. He gazed on her, and she met his look; and if
that earnest, almost agonized glance betrayed to her young and guileless
bosom that she was beloved, it was not the only secret she that night

Mr. Hamilton was too earnestly engaged in conversation with Sir George
Wilmot to notice the painful confusion of his child; and Mrs. Hamilton
was thinking too deeply and happily on Ellen's conduct and Edward's
return, to bestow the attention that it merited, and consequently it
passed without remark.

"Mother, I am sorry to be the first to inform you of such a domestic
misfortune," said Percy, soon after entering the room, apparently much
amused, "but Robert has suddenly lost his wits; either something
extraordinary has happened or is about to happen, or the poor fellow has
become bewitched. You smile, mother; on my honour, I think it no smiling

"Never mind, Percy; your favourite attendant will, I have no doubt,
recover his senses before the night is over. I am not in the least
anxious," replied his mother, smiling.

"Percy, your mother has clothed herself to-night in impenetrable
mystery, so do not hope to discover anything through her," said Lord St.
Eval, laughing, and the young men continued gaily conversing with Lady
Gertrude and Caroline, till the entrance of Mr. Howard and the
announcement of tea or supper; of both of which, after a day spent in
the country as this had been, the evening meal partook.

"Ellen--where is Ellen?" said several voices, as they seated themselves
round the hospitable board, and observed her place was vacant; and Sir
George Wilmot eagerly joined the inquiry.

"She will join us shortly, Sir George," replied Mrs. Hamilton, and
turning to a servant near her, desired him to let Miss Fortescue know
tea was ready.

"I will go, madam. Stand back, James, let me pass," exclaimed Robert,
hastily, and he bounded out of the apartment with a most extraordinary
failing of his wonted respect.

"There, proof positive; did I not tell you the lad was mad," said Percy,
and, as if in confirmation of his words, almost directly after a loud
and joyful shout sounded from the servants' hall.

Mr. Hamilton looked up inquiringly, and in doing so his eye caught an
object that caused him to start from his seat with an exclamation of
surprise and pleasure; while Percy, leaping over chairs and tables that
stood in his way, unheeding Lord Louis's inquiry, whether Robert had
infected him, shook and shook again the hand of the long-absent
relative, in whom both he and Herbert could only recognise the preserver
of their father. Herbert and his sisters simultaneously left their
seats, and crowded round him. Warmly, affectionately, Edward greeted
them one and all, and rapidly answered the innumerable questions of
Percy; defended his sister from all share in his concealment, of which
Herbert and Emmeline laughingly accused her. The flush of almost painful
bashfulness still lingered on his cheek, as he marked the eyes of all
fixed upon him, strangers as well as friends; but as he turned in the
direction of his aunt, and his eye fell on the venerable figure of his
revered preceptor, who stood aside, enjoying the little scene he beheld,
as the remembrance of the blessed words, the soothing comfort that
impressive voice had spoken in his hour of greatest need, the lessons of
his childhood, his dawning youth, rushed on his mind, control,
hesitation, reserve were all at an end; he broke from the surrounding
and eager group, even from the detaining arm of his sister, sprang
towards him, and clasping both Mr. Howard's hands, his eyes glistened
and his voice quivered, as he exclaimed--

"Mr. Howard, too! one of my first, my best, and kindest friends. Ellen
told me not of this unexpected pleasure; this is joy, indeed."

"A joy to me, too, my dear boy, equally unexpected; we must thank Mrs.
Hamilton for this early meeting. I knew not the pleasure she had
prepared for me," replied Mr. Howard, returning the pressure of Edward's
hand with equal warmth.

"Nor did any one, my good sir. Never will I say again a lady cannot keep
a secret," said the Marquis of Malvern, jestingly. "Mr. Hamilton, as you
do not seem inclined to honour me, without asking, I must entreat a
formal introduction to that gallant nephew of yours, whose name is not
unknown to naval fame, though as yet but one of her junior officers."

"I really beg your pardon, my dear Lord; Edward's sudden appearance has
startled me out of all etiquette. To one and all, then, of my good
friends here, allow me to introduce to their indulgent notice this said
Edward Fortescue, midshipman and gallant officer on board His Majesty's
good ship Prince William; and, in order that all reserve may be at an
end between us, I propose a bumper to the health and prosperity of the
wanderer returned."

"Most excellent, my dear father; one that I will second with all my
heart," exclaimed Percy, eagerly. "For that amphibious animal looks
marvellously like a fish out of water amongst us all: and here we admit
no strangers. Edward, there is a vacant seat reserved for you by my
mother's side, who looks much as if she would choose you for her knight
this evening; and, therefore, though your place in future is amongst the
young ladies, to whom by-and-bye I mean to introduce you by name and
character, we will permit you to sit there to-night. Ellen, my little
coz, where are you? You must be content with looking at your brother,
not sitting by him. I cannot allow such breaches of etiquette; that is
quite impossible."

"I am perfectly satisfied where I am, Percy," replied his cousin,
laughing, as she obeyed the Marchioness of Malvern's request and seated
herself beside her. Every eye was turned on Ellen with an admiration,
which, had not her thoughts been engrossed with her brother, would have
been actually painful to one of her quick feelings. Lady Malvern longed
to hear from her young favourite, in words, the internal delight which
was so evident in every feature, and by her kindly sympathy succeeded in
her wishes. The young sailor's health was celebrated with enthusiasm;
and Edward gracefully, though briefly, returned his thanks, while the
kindness of all around him, the easy friendliness of those who were
strangers, and the joy of feeling himself once more in the midst of
those he loved, soon placed him perfectly at ease.

Ellen looked eagerly round her circle of friends, to mark the impression
made by Edward, and even her fond affection was fully satisfied. Sir
George Wilmot had not spoken, but his eye kindled with animation as in
the gallant young sailor he recalled his own youthful days, while some
other sad remembrances kept him silent, and checked his usual hilarity.
Lord Malvern appeared almost as interested as Mr. Hamilton. Lady
Gertrude's kind glance met hers, and told, by its silent eloquence, how
well she sympathised in Ellen's feelings; and Lord St. Eval too, his
smile spoke volumes, though his natural reserve prevented his addressing
Edward, while the young and lively members of the party seemed to find
abundant amusement in the anecdotes and adventures he narrated. Arthur
Myrvin gazed earnestly at him, and for a time banished his own
distressing thoughts in the endeavour to trace in the fine manly youth
before him some likeness to the handsome, yet violent and mischievous
boy he had first and last seen in the village of Llangwillan.

"I have heard so much of Eward, from my friend Ellen here, that I am
most anxious to cultivate his acquaintance, and trust Castle Malvern
will often be graced by the presence of such a gallant young sailor,"
was the Marchioness of Malvern's kind address, after they had adjourned
to the drawing room, as, leaning on the arm of Ellen, she advanced to
the young man, who, from Percy's lively introduction, was playing the
agreeable to Lady Florence and Lady Emily Lyle, while Lord Louis, who
found something in Edward's countenance that promised a kindred feeling
for fun and frolic, was demanding question after question, which Edward
was answering in a manner calculated to excite the continued merriment
of his companions, till a sign from his aunt called him to her side.

"So I must entreat Admiral Sir George Wilmot to deign to notice my
nephew, it will not be given unasked," she said, approaching the aged
officer, who was sitting a little apart, shading his eyes with his hand,
as if in deep thought. "Sir George, I shall impeach you of high treason
against me, the liege lady of this fortress, that on a night when all is
joy, you, who are generally the gayest, should be sad. What excuse can
you urge in your defence?"

"Is Edward unworthy of the high privilege of being a sailor, Sir
George?" whispered Ellen, archly, "or is your wrath against me, for not
joining your expedition this morning, to be extended to him? will you
not look on him as a brother seaman?"

"Nay, Ellen, I must toil through long years of servitude, I must reap
very many laurels, ere I can deserve that title," said Edward. "The name
of Sir George Wilmot is too well known on the broad seas for me to hope
for more than a word of encouragement from him, or to enable me to look
on him with any other feelings than those of the deepest reverence and

"Ay, ay, young man, you wish to surprise the old hulk to surrender;
gaily rigged and manned as you are, you think, by a show of homage to
me, to surprise me into paying it to you," said the old man, rousing
himself from his abstraction, and laughing as he spoke. "Do not deny it,
youngster, but I forgive you; for I have been an old fool, Mrs.
Hamilton. I plead guilty, and throw myself on your mercy. You, Mistress
Ellen, you deserve nothing from me, after rejecting every courtly speech
I could think of this morning, to persuade you to crowd sail and steer
out under my guidance instead of remaining safe in harbour. Jokes apart,
if you, young sir, will feel pleasure in the friendship of an old
time-worn servant of his Majesty as I am, I offer you my hand, with all
the warmth and sincerity of our noble profession. For your uncle's sake
as well as your own, my best wishes and my best offices shall be
exercised in tacking on lieutenant to your name."

"And you will do nothing, then, for _my sake_, Sir George, nor for my
aunt's, whose dignity your sadness has offended?" said Ellen, smiling,
as did Mrs. Hamilton.

"Your aunt would forgive my sadness, my dear child, did she know its
cause. I was wrong to encourage it, but I could not look on these bright
features," he laid his hand, which trembled, on Edward's arm, "without
seeing again past times peopled with those who have passed away. Mrs.
Hamilton, I thought again the merry favourite of my old friend, your
father, stood before me, the gay, the thoughtless, lovely Eleanor; she
was like him, in the bloom of youth and freshness, when I last beheld
her; and I thought, as mine eye glanced on this well known uniform,
there was another still of whom he reminded me,--the adopted son of my
affections, the darling of my childless years, Charles, my gallant
warm-hearted Charles! Nearly six years was he with me, when his courage
earned him a lieutenant's berth; he changed his quarters and his
commander, and I saw him no more. Such was he; such--oh, I thought
Eleanor and Charles again were before me, and I longed for the friend of
my early years, to recognise in his grandson the features of his
Eleanor, the voice, the laugh, and figure of his Charles. Forgive me, my
dear children, I have frightened away your mirth, and made myself

There was silence as he ceased, and Sir George was the first to break
it, by addressing Edward with animation, questioning him as to all his
hopes and anticipations with regard to his promotion, which, as his six
years of service were now passed, he allowed to occupy his mind, and in
such conversation all traces of gloom quickly vanished; and Ellen,
interested in their conference, lingered near them in recovered spirits,
till the bell summoned all those who chose to join in the evening
prayer. All attended, except young Myrvin, who had departed. Herbert
felt anxious on his friend's account, for many reasons, which we must
postpone explaining till a future page; suffice it now to say that the
young man's conduct not seeming to be such as his profession demanded, a
degree of scarcely-perceptible, but keenly-felt coldness was displayed
towards him, both by Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Howard. Herbert had this night
remarked that his cheek was pale, his eye almost haggard, and his words
and manner often confused, and he had endeavoured to elicit the cause of
his inward disturbance, but unsuccessfully; the young man, although very
evidently unhappy, appeared to shrink from his confidence, and Herbert,
though grieved, desisted from his friendly office. That night Mr.
Hamilton resigned his place at the reading-desk to the worthy minister,
who, both in public and private worship, knew so well the duties of his
sacred office. He read the chapters of the evening, with a brief but
explanatory commentary on each, and after the usual prayers, broke forth
into a strain of earnest thanksgiving for the safe return of him who,
since he had last addressed his God, surrounded by his family, had been
exposed to the temptations and dangers of the sea, and mercifully
preserved through them all, and permitted to return in joy and peace.
To all, save to the orphans and Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, his words applied
but to the terrors of the deep, but they well knew where the thoughts of
their minister had wandered; they knew that fervent thanksgiving was
offered up for his preservation from those sins which had been his on
his last return; they knew he blessed his Maker for the promise of
virtue he beheld; His grace had enabled him to overcome temptation, and
return to the home of his boyhood comparatively unstained.

Edward contrasted his present feelings with those which he had
experienced the first night of his last return, and Ellen thought on
that bitter anguish, the public shame which had been hers in that very
hall, that very night three years before, and the young hearts of both
the orphans were filled with warm and deep thanksgiving. The thoughts of
all were composed and tranquillized when Mr. Howard ceased, and in the
little time that intervened between the conclusion of the service and
the family separating to their rooms, no light and frivolous converse
disturbed the solemn but sad impression on the minds of each.

"I cannot part from you for the night, my dear cousin," said Edward,
somewhat archly, though in a low voice, as he approached the spot where
Caroline and St. Eval stood, "without offering you my warmest
congratulations on your future prospects, and without requesting an
introduction from _you_ to him, in whom I am to welcome a new relative.
I have been wishing to do so all the evening, but when I was at liberty
I missed you."

Evidently pleased, Caroline looked up into St. Eval's face, but before
she could speak, the young earl had warmly pressed Edward's hand, and
answered with sincerity and kindness equal to his own. The whole party
very soon afterwards dispersed.

Were it ours to follow our young and still, in appearance, childlike
friend Emmeline Hamilton to her room that night, we should see that the
smiles which had beamed around her lip had passed away, the flush on her
cheek was no longer there, and one or two bright drops might have been
observed slowly falling on her pale cheek, as she sat in deep musing,
ere she retired to her couch. She had dismissed Fanny, alleging that she
did not require her aid, and her long silky hair loosened from its
confinement, hung carelessly in golden waves around her. Tears fell on
her hand; she started, and flung back her tresses, looked fearfully
around her, and passed her hand across her eyes, as if to check
them--but ineffectually; another, and another fell; she leaned her
crossed arms upon the pillow, and her head drooped on them, and she
wept, wept as she had never wept before, and yet she knew not wherefore;
she was sad, how deeply sad, but that young and guileless spirit knew
not why. Child she was still in looks, in playfulness, in glee; a child
she still believed herself, but she was no child--that age of buoyancy
had fled, and Emmeline was, indeed, a woman, a thinking, feeling, ay,
and loving woman.

It might have been nearly a week after Edward's return, when, on
entering the library one morning, Mrs. Hamilton observed her husband,
Mr. Howard, and Edward in earnest conference, the latter appearing
somewhat agitated. She would have retreated, imagining her presence
mistimed, but Edward, the instant he perceived her, sprung forward, and
seizing both her hands, exclaimed, in a voice of entreaty--

"Dearest aunt, will not you use your influence with my uncle, and
prevail on him to take the sum I have saved at different times, from my
prize-money and other things, to replace that which--which was lost
three years ago. To obtain sufficient, I have denied myself all
unnecessary indulgence; it has checked my natural extravagance;
prevented me, when sometimes I have been strongly tempted to play, or
join my messmates in questionable amusements. In saving that, I have
cured myself of many faults; it has taught me economy and control, for
by the time the whole amount was saved, my wishes and evil inclinations
were conquered. I look on it as a debt which I had bound myself to pay.
I anticipated the pleasure of telling my dear sister, she might banish
the past entirely from her mind, for I would not write a word of my
intentions, lest I should fail in them ere I returned. And now my uncle
refuses to grant my request; Mr. Howard will not second me; and--and I
see how it is," he continued, with a return of former violence in his
manner, as he paced the room, and a flush burned on his cheek, "my uncle
will not consent to look on it as a debt; he will not permit me, even as
far as this will do it, to redeem my sister."

"You are quite mistaken, my dear boy," replied Mr. Hamilton, mildly.
"Your sister's own conduct has sufficiently proved to me her repentance
and amendment; her gentle virtues and faultless conduct have quite
redeemed the past, and so has yours. I refuse to take your well-earned
savings, merely because they really are not necessary."

"But if it will give me pleasure, if it will satisfy me. Dearest aunt,
plead for me; you know not the relief it will be," again entreated
Edward, as he paused in his hasty walk, and looked beseechingly in his
aunt's face.

"Nay, dear Edward, do not demand impossibilities," she replied, smiling,
"I cannot plead for you. That money with which you appear so very eager
to part must return to your own purse; your sister's debt is already

"Paid!" repeated Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Howard, in astonishment, while
Edward stood, as if bewildered. "How, and by whom?"

"By Ellen herself," replied Mrs. Hamilton; and, addressing her husband,
she added, "I should have told you before, but we have been both too
much engaged the last two days to allow any time for private
conversation; and my Ellen had entreated that only you should know her
secret; but she would, I know, have made an exception in Mr. Howard's
favour had I demanded it, for his excellent lessons have in all
probability assisted in making her the character she is; and as for her
brother--why, in charity, he shall know this strange tale," she added,
smiling; and briefly, but with affecting accuracy, she related all that
had passed between her and Ellen on the evening of Edward's return. Mr.
Hamilton and Mr. Howard listened in astonishment, for they knew not the
quiet steadiness, the unwavering firmness of Ellen's private character;
they guessed not the deep remorse which had been her own, nor for how
long it had guided and purified her actions. Edward had concealed his
face in his hands, his arms resting upon the table, for he felt in this
tale of persevering effort and self-denial, in comparison with Ellen's,
as if his had sunk to nothing; the bright lustre of his sister's
character dimmed even to obscurity his own.

"And have you questioned Ellis? do you know in what manner she contrived
so secretly to render her assistance?" demanded Mr. Hamilton, with much

"I have," replied his wife, "I did so that same night; for even Edward's
unexpected return could not banish his sister from my mind. She told me,
that at first she did all she could to turn Ellen from her purpose; but
when she found her resolution was unalterably fixed by some means to
earn sufficient to repay the cause of so much distress, she entered
warmly into her plan; and, with the active assistance of Robert,
procured her work from the baby-linen warehouses at Plymouth. She first
began with the plainest work, but that succeeded so well, finer was
given to her. In London she worked embroidery, purchasing the materials
from her own pocket-money, and consequently largely increasing her
hoard. Spite of her ill-health, the first winter we spent in London, she
perseveringly continued her irksome task, rising even in the coldest
weather at six, the provident care of Ellis causing her fire to be
lighted almost the earliest in the house. Robert was the messenger
employed to and fro, but no one knew her name or rank; for, devoted as
we well know he is to Ellen, he took the trouble of changing his livery
for plain clothes, whenever Ellis sent him on his mission. Her secret
has, indeed, been well preserved both from us and those who employed
her. Many, very many silent tears Ellis believes have fallen over my
poor Ellen's tedious task; many a struggle to adhere to her resolution,
and not throw it aside in despair; and frequently, she told me, after a
long, solitary evening, she has thrown her arms round Ellis's neck, and
wept from exhaustion, and the misery of hope deferred, for at first it
did appear an endless labour; but she persevered unshrinkingly,
combating her wishes to accompany me wherever Emmeline visited."

"And it was this, then, that caused her determination to remain at home
till next year," observed Mr. Hamilton; "poor child, our harshness was
no sweetener of her task."

"It was not, indeed; the night of Emmeline's introduction, Ellis says,
she wept as if her heart would break, as if she could not keep her
secret any longer; but she struggled with herself, and conquered;
although many times, during my estrangement, she has longed to confess
all, but the fear that I should forbid her continuing her task
restrained her."

"I am very glad she persevered in her secret," said Mr. Howard, warmly;
"it is this quiet steady perseverance in a painful duty that has pleased
me far more than even the action itself, guided as that was by proper
feeling. Extraordinary sacrifices of our own formation are not, in
general, as acceptable to Him for whose sake they are ostentatiously
made, as the quiet steady discharge of our destined duties--the one is
apt to beget pride, the other true humility, but this unshaken
resolution in one so young, had its origin from true repentance, and
aided as it has been by the active fulfilment of every duty,
strengthened as it has, no doubt, been by prayer, I cannot but trust her
heavenly Master will look down with an eye of mercy on His young
servant. Look up, Edward; you, too, have done your duty. Why should your
sister's conduct cause this sudden depression, my young friend?"

"Because," exclaimed he, with an earnestness almost startling, and as
he looked up his eyes glistened with tears, "because all my efforts sink
to nothing beside hers. I deemed myself becoming worthy; that the
conquests over inclination I made would obliterate the past; but what
are my sacrifices compared to hers? Weak, frail, sensitive creature as
she is, thus secretly, laboriously to earn that sum which, because it
required one or two petty sacrifices of inclination, I deemed that I had
so nobly gained. What have been my efforts compared to hers?"

"Almost as great to you, my dear boy, as hers were to her," said Mr.
Hamilton, kindly; "you, too, have done well. Your past errors have
already, in my mind and in that of Mr. Howard and your aunt's, been
obliterated by the pleasure your late conduct has bestowed. She has not
had the temptations to extravagant pleasure which have been yours; to
save this sum you must have resigned much gratification. You have acted
thus excellently, in part, to regain the good opinion of your friends,
and the kind wish of restoring perfect peace to your sister: in the
first, you have fully succeeded; in the second, when your sister knows
what has been the secret purpose of your life for three long years, her
affections will amply repay you. You are deserving of each other, my
dear Edward; and this moment I do not scruple to say, I am proud to feel
myself so nearly related to those who, young as they both are, have so
nobly and perseveringly performed their duty both to God and man."

Young Fortescue raised his uncle's hand, wrung it between both his own,
and impetuously darted from the room.

"That boy would teach me never to despair again, my good friend," said
Mr. Hamilton, addressing the worthy clergyman. "When last he left me I
had learned to hope and yet to fear, for I dreaded his exposure to his
former temptations; and now--glad, indeed, am I to acknowledge myself
vanquished, and to own you were ever in the right."

Mr. Howard smiled.

"And now does my husband regret his having adopted my sister's orphans
as his own?" demanded Mrs. Hamilton, entwining her arm in her husband's,
and looking caressingly in his face.

"No, my dearest wife; once, indeed, when I beheld you in fancy about to
sink beneath the accumulation of misery and anxiety both Edward and
Ellen's conduct occasioned, I did in secret murmur that the will of my
heavenly Father had consigned to us the care of such misguided ones; I
fear I looked on them as the disturbers of family peace and harmony,
when it was the will of my God. I felt indignant and provoked with them,
when I should have bowed submissively to Him. I have been blessed in
them when I deserved it not. You ever trusted, my Emmeline, though far
greater distress was your lot than mine. You never repented of that
kindness which bade your heart bleed for their orphan state, and urged
you to take them to your gentle bosom, and soothe them as your own. I
know that at this moment you have your reward."

Mrs. Hamilton was prevented from replying by the entrance of Edward, who
eagerly inquired for his sister, alleging he had searched every room in
the house and could not find her.

"She has gone with Herbert to the village to take the fruits of her own
work, some baby linen, to the poor woman in whose fate I am so
interested," replied Mrs. Hamilton, and turning to her husband,
added--"Now we really are alone, my dear Arthur, will you give a little
of your time to inform me in what manner I can best lay out, for this
unfortunate being's advantage, the sum my Ellen has placed in my hands?
Do not look at me, Edward, as if to implore me to take yours also, for I
mean to be very positive, and say at once I will not."

"Come with me, my young friend, and we will go and meet Herbert and
Ellen," Mr. Howard said, smiling; "a walk is the best remedy for nerves
fevered as yours are at present, and I should be glad of your company."
And Edward, with eager pleasure, banishing all traces of former
agitation, departed arm in arm with a companion whom he still so revered
and loved, recalling with him reminiscences of his boyhood, and
detailing with animation many incidents of his late trip. This walk,
quiet as it was, was productive, both to Mr. Howard and his pupil, of
extreme pleasure; the former, while he retained all the gravity and
dignity of his holy profession, knew well how to sympathise with youth.
Increased duties in the ministry had caused him to resign the school
which he had kept when we first knew him, to the extreme regret of both
master and pupils. Mr. Howard regarded young people as the tender lambs
of his fold, whom it was his especial charge to train up in the paths of
grace, and guard from all the dangerous and hidden pitfalls of sin;
their parents might neglect, or, ignorant themselves, pursue a mistaken
method, but he was the shepherd placed over the flock, and while
untiringly, zealously, he endeavoured to lead the older members of his
congregation to the only rock of salvation, the younger were the objects
of his especial care. To them all was bright, the world in all its
dangerous, because more pleasurable, labyrinths was before them. He saw,
he knew their perfect ignorance, and he trembled, while he prayed so to
lead them, that the lessons of their minister might check them in the
career of imprudence or of sin.

"Were I one of the fathers of Rome I should say, _benedicite_, my
children," he said, playfully, as Herbert and Ellen, apparently in
serious yet happy conversation approached and joined them, "but as I am
merely a simple minister of a simple faith, I greet you with the
assurance you are blessed in your charitable office."

"And how, my kind friend, could you contrive to discover such was our
employment?" replied Herbert, smiling. "Can my mother have been
betraying us?"

"Oh, she has been a sad traitress this morning, betraying all kinds of
secrets and misdemeanours," said Mr. Howard, laughing, and casting on
Ellen a glance of arch meaning, while Edward could scarcely contain his
impatience to seize his sister's arm and bear her off with him.

"And we, too, have been hearing many tales of you, Mr. Howard," she
said. "We have heard very many blessings on your name in the cottage we
have left, although, alas! events have occurred there of a very painful

"And why, alas, my dear child?" said Mr. Howard, affectionately. "Do you
deem it so sad a thing to die?"

"It is wrong, I know, to regard it thus, Mr. Howard," replied Ellen;
"but yet, to leave all those we love on earth, to sever the tender cords
of affection binding us unto this world, must be, even to the strongest
and most pious minds, a draught of bitterness."

"Do not, my dear children," said Mr. Howard, "imagine I deem it wrong to
indulge in earthly affections. Far from it; they are given us to sweeten
life, to draw our hearts in thanksgiving to him who gave them, and thus
indulged are pleasing unto Him. And how did you find poor Nanny to-day?"
he added, after a brief pause.

"Suffering very much in body, but in a blessed state of mind," replied
Ellen, "which she greatly attributed to you; for she told me, before my
aunt discovered them and placed them where they now are, before she saw
you, death was a trouble awful in anticipation. She had ever tried to do
her duty in life, to remember her Maker in her youth, and believed that
she had succeeded; but when she knew that she must die, all appeared
changed; the aspect of death was different, when seemingly at a distance
to that which it presented when near at hand. She longed for some
minister of the Lord to pray for her, to comfort her in those moments
when suffering prevented serious thoughts, and it was affecting to hear
her bless that charity which had not only placed her soul under your
guidance, but provided also so many bodily comforts."

"And you have been exercising the duties of the ministry before you have
donned your gown, my dear Herbert," said Mr. Howard, glancing
approvingly on his young friend. "Glad indeed shall I be to hail you as
a young brother in my sacred office; for with you it will be indeed the
service of the heart, and not of interest or compulsion. Would that your
friend Arthur possessed one-half of your earnest zeal, or that you
could inspire him with the same love for his sacred calling which
animates you."

"I know not what to make of Arthur," said Herbert, somewhat sadly, "he
is strangely, unaccountably changed the last few months. When he was
first settled in his curacy, his conduct was such as to excite the
approbation of both my father and yourself; and now, I greatly fear,
that he is alienating both."

"Do not condemn him harshly, without good proof, dear Mr. Howard," said
Ellen, earnestly. "I, too, have noticed that he is changed, though I
scarcely know in what manner; but for his father's sake and for mine, do
not treat him coldly before my uncle at least. He has many faults, but
surely some good qualities."

"I trust he has; but I wish he would not so carefully conceal them, and
suffer his parishioners to have cause to relate so many tales of neglect
and levity in their curate," replied Mr. Howard; "but we will not bring
forward accusations when the accused is not present to defend himself:
and here we are at the Rectory before I had thought we were half way.
Will you come in, my young friends, and share an old man's homely

Gladly would they have done so, but Ellen had promised to return to
Oakwood in time for that meal, and was compelled to refuse; adding, that
both her brother and cousin might, for the Rectory was so near one of
the entrances to the park, she could easily return alone; but such was
not Mr. Howard's intention. He knew how Edward longed for a few minutes'
private conversation with his sister, and playfully detaining Herbert,
declaring he could not do without one at least, dismissed the orphans on
their walk, bestowing his parting blessing on Ellen with a warmth that
surprised her at the time, but the meaning of which was fully explained
in the interesting conversation that passed between her and her brother
ere they reached the house, and as the expression of approbation in the
minister she loved, filled her young mind with joy, while the mutual
confidence bestowed in that walk added another bright link to the chain
of affection which bound the souls of that brother and sister so fondly


It was the hour when all in general retired to rest, and the inmates of
Oakwood had dispersed for the purpose; but this night thoughts of a
mingled and contending nature occupied Mrs. Hamilton's mind, and
prevented all wish for sleep. Her guests had the last week increased,
and the part of hostess had been kindly and pleasingly performed; but
the whole of that day she had longed to be alone, and gladly, gratefully
she hailed that hour which enabled her to be so. Shading her eyes with
her hand, she gave to her thoughts the dominion they demanded. Maternal
ambition, maternal pride, in that silent hour fell before the stronger,
more absorbing power of maternal love. But a few brief hours, and the
child of her anxious cares, of fervent petitions at the throne of grace,
would be no longer an inmate of her father's house, her place in that
happy home would be a void. On the morrow, ay, the morrow, for the
intervening weeks had fled, her child would be another's. True, but few
miles would separate their homes; true, that he on whom that precious
gift would be bestowed, was in all respects the husband she would have
selected for her Caroline, the husband for whom the involuntary prayer
had arisen; virtue and piety, manliness and sincerity were his, besides
these attributes, which to some mothers would have been far more
brilliant, he was noble, even of exalted rank; but all, all these things
were forgotten in the recollection, that on the morrow she must bid
farewell to her cherished treasure, the link, the precious link of
protection would be severed, and for ever. Thoughts of the past mingled
with the present, and softened yet more that fond mother's feelings.
Pain, bitter pain, Caroline had sometimes cost her, but pleasure,
exquisite in its kind, had mingled with it. No longer would it be hers
to watch with trembling joy the dawning virtues which had flourished
beneath her eye; a link would be broken between them, a slender one
indeed, but still broken,--though Mrs. Hamilton reproached herself for
indulging in such feelings of sadness, when so many blessings promised
to gild the lot of her child. And yet, alas! what mother devoted to her
children as she had been, and still was this noble and gentle woman,
could part from a beloved one even for a brief space, even for
happiness, without one pang, selfish as it might be, selfish as perhaps
it was? for anxiety for the future darkened not the prospects of earthly
bliss, her trust in the character of St. Eval was too confiding; it was
only her fond heart which for a time would be so desolate. Her ear would
linger in vain for the voice it loved; her eye seek in sorrow for the
graceful form, the beauteous features on which it had so loved to gaze.
New ties would supply to Caroline the place of all that she had left;
deep springs of fond emotions, such as she had never felt before, would
open in her heart, and then would she still love, would she still look
to that mother, as in childhood and in youth she had done? Vainly she
struggled to subdue these thoughts, and bring forward in their stead the
visions of happiness, which alone had visited her before. Thronging and
tumultuously they came, and tears stole slowly from those mild eyes,
which for herself so seldom wept; while engrossed in her own
reflections, she heard not the soft and careful opening of her door, she
knew not that the beloved object of those tears had entered her room,
and was kneeling beside her.

"Mother!" murmured Caroline, in a voice tremulous and weak with emotion
equal to her own. Mrs. Hamilton started, and her lip quivered with the
effort she made to smile her greeting. "Mother, my own mother, forgive
my intrusion; I thought not to have found you thus. Oh, deem me not
failing in that deep reverence your goodness, your devotedness, have
taught me to feel for you; if my love would bid me ask you why you weep,
may I not share your sorrow, mother?"

"These are but selfish tears, my own; selfish, for they fall only when I
think that to-morrow bears my Caroline away, and leaves her mother's
heart for a time so lone and sad, that it will not even think of the
happiness I so fondly trust will be hers, in becoming the bride of him
she loves. Forgive me, my own Caroline; I had no right to weep and call
for these dear signs of sympathy at such a time."

Silently and tearfully Caroline clung to her mother, and repeatedly
pressed her hand to her lips.

"And why are you not at rest, my child? you will have but few brief
hours for sleep, scarcely sufficient to recall the truant rose to these
pale cheeks, and the lustre to this suddenly dimmed eye, my Caroline;"
and the mother passed her hand caressingly over her brow, and parted the
luxuriant hair that, loosened from the confining wreath of wild flowers
which had so lately adorned it, hung carelessly around her. She looked
long and wistfully on that young bright face.

"You ask me why I am not at rest; oh, I could not, I felt I could not
part from you, without imploring your forgiveness for all the past;
without feeling that it was indeed pardoned. Never, never before has my
conduct appeared in such true colours: dark, even to blackness, when
contrasted with yours. Your blessing is my own, it will be mine
to-morrow; but, oh, it will not be hallowed to my heart, did I not
confess that I was--that I am unworthy of all your fondness, mother, and
implore you to forgive the pain I have so often and so wantonly
inflicted upon you. Oh, you know not how bitterly, how reproachfully, my
faults and errors rushed back to my mind, as I sat and thought this was
the last night that Caroline Hamilton would sleep beneath this roof;
that to-morrow we parted, and I left you without once acknowledging I
deserved not half your goodness; without one effort to express the
devoted gratitude, the deep, the reverential love, with which my heart
is filled. Mother, dearest, dearest mother! oh, call me but your
blessing, your comfort,--I never have been thus; wilful and disobedient,
I have poisoned many hours which would otherwise have been sweet.
Mother, my own mother, say only you forgive me--say that no lingering
pang I on my account remains."

"Forgive you, my beloved! oh, long, long since have every childish fault
and youthful error been forgiven. Could resentment harbour in my heart
so long? could memory linger on moments of pain, when this last year not
one fault, not one failing of duty or of love has stained your conduct?
Even as my other children have you been my blessing, my comfort; the
dearer, when I thought on the doubts and fears of the past. Pain you may
have once caused me; but, oh, you know not how blessedly one proof of
affection, one hour of devotion in a child can obliterate from a
mother's heart the remembrance of months of pain. Think no more of what
is past, my own; remember only that your mother's blessing, her fervent
prayers will hover round you wherever you may be; that, should sickness
and sorrow at any time be your portion, however distant we may be, your
mother will come to soothe and cheer, your mother's bosom will still be
open to receive you."

Caroline answered not, for her tears fell fast upon the hand she held;
tears not of sorrow but of emotion, blessed in their sadness. She bowed
her head before Mrs. Hamilton, and murmured--

"Bless me, my mother!"

"May the God of infinite love, the Father of unclouded mercies, who hath
been so unchangeably merciful to his servants, look down from His
resplendent throne and bless you, my beloved! May he sanctify and bless
that event, which promises to our darkened eyes so much felicity! May He
guide my child in His own paths, and hearken to her mother's prayer!"

"We will not separate this night to pray each in solitude, my child; let
us read, and address our heavenly Father together, as we were wont to
do, when it was my task to raise your infant thoughts and simple
prayers to Him who heard and answered. I cannot part from you till these
agitated feelings are more composed, and prayer will best enable them to
be so."

Willingly, gladly Caroline lingered, and their private devotions, which
ever attended their retiring to rest, were performed together. Their
blessed influence was mutually felt. He whom they so fervently addressed
looked down upon His good and faithful servants, and poured upon the
mother's soul and on that of her child the calm and tranquillizing dew
of His blessing.

The morning dawned, and common-place as is the expression, yet we must
confess the day was lovely; one of those soft, delicious September days
so well known to all who are acquainted with the climate of Devonshire.
Gaily the sun looked down from his field of stainless azure, and peeped
through the windows of the elegant little room which the taste of her
young bridesmaids had decorated as Caroline's tiring-room for the day,
and his bright rays played on the rich jewels scattered on the toilette,
and decked them with renewed brilliance; and at times his light would
fall full upon the countenance of the young bride, sometimes pensive, at
others, radiant in beaming smiles, as she replied to the kind words of
Lady Gertrude, or in answer to the playful conversation of her younger
bridesmaids, who, full of life, and hope, and innocence, hovered like
fairy spirits round their queen. The tears which had fallen from the
eyes of Emmeline on her sister's neck that morning were dried, yet still
there were some lingering traces of sadness on her fair sweet face,
which she struggled vainly to conceal, but which were regarded as the
sorrow of an affectionate heart thus parting from the sister of its

And Lilla Grahame, too, was there, smiling with, real and heartfelt
pleasure. She had observed the slight cloud on Emmeline's brow, and with
every affectionate art endeavoured to remove it.

The toilette of the bride was completed, save her jewels, which Ellen
had entreated might be her office to arrange, and, smilingly, Lady
Florence resigned her place by Caroline's side.

"For Edward's sake and for mine, dearest Caroline, will you, decked as
you are with jewels so far more precious, yet will you wear this, and
regard it indeed as the offering of the sincerest affection for
yourself, the warmest prayers for your welfare, from those who for so
many years have felt for you as if you were indeed their sister? poor as
is the gift, will you let Edward see it is not rejected?" and Ellen, as
with a flushed cheek and quivering lip she spoke, placed on the arm of
her cousin a bracelet, composed of her own and her brother's hair, and
clasped with chaste yet massive gold. The braid was fine and delicate,
while the striking contrast of the jet black and rich golden hair of
which it was composed, combined with its valuable clasp, rendered it not
an unfit offering on such a day.

"Is it to remind me of all my unkindness towards you, Ellen, in days
past, of my hour of pride?" replied Caroline, in a low voice, as she
threw her arm caressingly round her cousin, and fondly kissed her. "I
will accept your gift, my dear Ellen, and sometimes look upon it thus."

"Nay, do not say so, dearest Caroline, or I shall feel inclined to take
it even now from your arm, and never let you see it more; no, rather
let it be a remembrance of those poor orphans, whose lives _you_ have
not done the least to render happy. Gratefully, affectionately, shall we
ever think of you, dear Caroline, and, oh, may this little offering bid
you sometimes think thus, and thus only of us."

The carriages were rather later than expected, and Lady Gertrude
observing Caroline somewhat pale, though no other sign denoted
agitation, endeavoured, by talking more sportively than usually was her
wont, to while away the time till the important moment arrived.

It came at length, and Caroline, with a faltering step, entered the
carriage, which conveyed her to the old and venerable church,
accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton and Lady Gertrude, who had promised
to remain near her. The fair girls that held the rank of bridesmaids
followed, and three other carriages contained the invited guests to the
wedding. Not a creature was visible to disturb by acclamations the
bridal party on their route, and take from the calm and holy beauty of
the early morning; but that the day was remembered was clearly visible,
for there were garlands of the brightest, fairest flowers, which must,
by their number and variety, have been culled from many gardens of many
villages, festooning the hedges of the green lanes through which they
passed, and many a gay pennon pendant from oak or stately elm fluttered
in the breeze. All was so still and calm, that ere the carriage stopped
at the church porch Caroline had conquered the inward trembling of her
frame, and her heart thrilled not perhaps so anxiously as did both her
parents', when, leaning on the arm of her proud and happy father, she
walked steadily, even with dignity, up the church, where Mr. Howard,
young Myrvin, Lord St. Eval, his parents, Lord Louis, Percy, Herbert,
and Edward there stood, and a faint but expressive smile played round
her lips, in answer to St. Eval's eager yet silent greeting. He could
not speak, his feelings of happiness were too deep, too ecstatic for
words, but she had but to look on his expressive face, and all, all was

There was a moment's solemn pause as they knelt beside the altar, and
then the voice of Mr. Howard sounded, and its ever emphatic tones rung
with even more than its usual solemnity on the ears of all the assembled
relatives and friends, with thrilling power on the bride and bridegroom.
Calmly and clearly Caroline responded; her cheek was pale, but her lip
quivered not, and perhaps, in that impressive service, the agitation of
her mother was deeper than her own. She struggled to retain her
composure, she lifted up her soul in earnest prayer, that the blessing
of her God might indeed hallow the ceremony on which she gazed, and ere
her child arose, and led forward by her young enraptured husband,
approached for her parent's blessing and embrace, she was enabled to
give both without any visible emotion, save that her daughter might have
felt the quick pulsations of her fond heart, as she pressed her in her

We will not linger on the joyous festivity which pervaded the lordly
halls of Oakwood on this eventful day.

The hour had come when Caroline, the young Countess of St. Eval, bade
farewell to her paternal home. The nearest relatives of the bride and
bridegroom had assembled with them in a small apartment, at Caroline's
request, for a few minutes, till the carriage was announced, for though
resolved not to betray her feelings, she could not bear to part from
those she loved in public. She had changed her dress for a simple yet
elegant travelling costume, and was now listening with respectful
deference but glistening eyes to the fond words of her mother, who,
twining her arm around her, had drawn her a little apart from the
others, as if her farewell could not be spoken aloud; their attention
was so arrested by a remark of Lord Malvern, and his son's reply, that
they turned towards them.

"Do not again let me hear you say our Gertrude never looks animated or
interested," the former said, addressing the Marchioness, somewhat
triumphantly. "She is as happy, perhaps, if possible, even happier than
any of us to-day, and, like a good girl, she shows it. Gertrude, love,
is it your brother's happiness reflected upon you?"

"Let me answer for her, sir," replied St. Eval, eagerly. "You know not
why she has so much reason to look and, I trust, to feel happy. She sees
her own good work, and, noble, virtuous as she is, rejoices in it;
without her, this day would never have dawned for me, Caroline would
never have been mine, and both would have lived in solitary
wretchedness. Yes, dearest Gertrude," he continued, "I feel how much I
owe you, though I say but little. Happy would it be for every man, could
he receive from his sister the comfort, the blessing I have from mine,
and for every woman, were her counsels, like yours, guided by truth

"The Earl and Countess of St. Eval left Oakwood about two o'clock, for
their estate in Cornwall, Castle Terryn, in an elegant chariot and four
superb greys, leaving a large party of fashionable friends and
relations to lament their early departure." So spoke the fashionable
chronicle in a paragraph on this marriage in high life, which contained
items and descriptions longer and more graphic than we have any
inclination to transcribe.

A select party of the Marquis of Malvern's and Mr. Hamilton's friends
remained to dinner, and, at the request of Percy and Lord Louis, dancing
for the younger guests concluded the evening. The day had dawned in joy,
and no clouds disturbed its close. Fatigued, and her thoughts still
clinging to her child, Mrs. Hamilton was glad to seek the retirement of
her own room. Her thoughts turned on her Caroline, and so fondly did
they linger there, that Emmeline's strange diversity of wild spirits and
sudden but overpowering gloom did not occupy her mind as powerfully as
they would otherwise have done; she did not regard them, save as the
effects of excitement natural to such an eventful day; she guessed not
that of all her household the heart of her Emmeline was the heaviest,
her spirits weighed down by a gloom so desponding, so overwhelming, that
sleep for many hours fled from her eyes. She had powerfully exerted
herself during the day, and now in solitude, darkness, and silence, the
reflux of feeling was too violent for that young and, till lately,
thoughtlessly joyous heart to bear. Her heavy eyes and pallid cheeks
attracted notice indeed the following morning, but they were attributed
to fatigue from the gay vigils of the preceding night, and gladly did
the poor girl herself encourage the delusion, and obey her mother's
playful command to lie down for a few hours, as a punishment for
indulging an overplus of excitement.

Herbert's pleasure, too, the preceding day had been alloyed by anxiety;
and perhaps his solicitude and his sister's sorrow proceeded from one
and the same cause, which our readers will find at length, a few pages
hence, when Arthur Myrvin becomes a prominent object in our history.

Pleasure, in a variety of festive shapes, but innocent in all, was for
the next month the presiding genius of Oakwood and its vicinity. Lord
Malvern's family remained as guests at Oakwood during that time, and
some few college friends of Percy and Herbert, but Mr. Hamilton's other
friends departed for their respective homes the week following the

The young Earl and Countess of St. Eval meanwhile resided at their
beautiful retreat of Castle Terryn, which the taste of the young Earl
had rendered in every respect a residence suited to the rank and
feelings of those who claimed it as their own.

Nothing now prevented our young friend Ellen from joining in the
amusements that offered themselves, and she enjoyed them even more than
she had expected, for she was accompanied by her brother, who had
deservedly become an universal favourite, and Mrs. Hamilton had the
pleasure, at length, of seeing not only health but happiness beaming
apparently unclouded on the countenance of her niece.

Mr. Grahame, for the sake of Lilla, who was becoming dearer each day to
both her parents, for her true character for the first time stood
clearly forth, struggled with his gloom, and accompanied her where-over
her wishes led; and her cheerful spirits, her unpretending manners, and
constant and active affection, manifesting itself in a thousand
different ways, to amuse the couch of her now really ailing mother, did
much to palliate the disappointment and misery the conduct of his elder
daughter had occasioned.

Herbert's secret was still inviolably kept; no one suspected that he
loved, much less that he was betrothed. Nearly two years had passed of
that long period which must elapse ere Herbert could hope to make Mary
his wife. They had glided quickly, very quickly by, and so too might the
remainder; but there was a dark, foreboding feeling pressing heavily
upon Herbert's heart as he looked forward, that robbed anticipation of
its charm, and rendered him even more pensive than from his boyhood had
been his wont. To strangers, even to his family, he was still the same;
to his God alone he laid his spirit bare.

Six weeks after the marriage of Caroline, Oakwood and its neighbourhood
was as quiet as it has been when we knew it in former years.

Lord Malvern's family stayed ten days at Castle Terryn, by the pressing
invitation of the young couple, and then returned to their estate in
Dorsetshire, leaving Lady Gertrude, however, for a few weeks' longer
residence with her brother and his wife. The young men returned to
college. Lilla Grahame remained at home till after the Christmas
vacation, when she was once more to reside with Mrs. Douglas for six
months or a year longer, according to the state of her mother's health,
who no longer wished to quit Moorlands; and therefore her husband gladly
consented to her remain there till Mrs. Hamilton paid her annual visit
to London. About this time also, Ellen, accompanied by her brother,
fulfilled her promise of visiting her old friend, Mr. Myrvin, and
delighted him by making his pretty vicarage her residence till near the
middle of November. Edward, with whom the kind old man was as much
pleased as he had been with his sister, also remained at Llangwillan
during that time, with the exception of three or four flying visits to
Oakwood, and latterly to Castle Terryn, where Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton,
with Emmeline, were staying the few last weeks of his and his sister's
visit at the vicarage. Their company was particularly soothing to Mr.
Myrvin at this period; for the letters of his son were causing him
extreme solicitude, revealing intentions, to understand which we must
for a short period retrace our steps, and thus commence another chapter.


Young Myrvin had been, at the period of Caroline's marriage, rather more
than a year as Mr. Howard's curate. At first, as we have seen, the
example of Herbert had done much towards reconciling him to a
profession, which was for many reasons opposed to his feelings. When in
the company of his friend, he had imparted to him his struggles with the
pride and ambition which still lurked within him, spite of all his
endeavours and resolutions to conquer and banish them. While Herbert was
near him all was well; his duty was regularly performed, in a manner
that satisfied his rector, and sufficiently rewarded Mr. Hamilton for
the interest he had taken in his and his father's welfare; but when
Herbert left Oakwood, Arthur's distaste for his occupation returned with
renewed strength, to which newly-dawning emotions added weight. Most
painfully had Arthur, when first intimate with Mr. Hamilton,
endeavoured to guard himself from the danger to his peace, which he
felt existed in the society of beings so amiable and attractive as were
his daughters; but his efforts were vain, as our readers may have
already discovered. There was a nameless, an indescribable charm in the
appearance and manner of Emmeline which he could not resist. It was some
few months ere the whole extent of evil was discovered, not perhaps
entirely till Emmeline returned to London, and Oakwood was desolate,
painfully desolate to the young man, who, when lingering within its
ancient walls, forgot everything around him, save the bright and
beautiful being who was to him its charm. When, however, that fair form
had departed from his sight, he was awakened to the delusive nature of
his hopes, and with the knowledge, exquisite even in its despair, that
he loved Emmeline Hamilton, his profession became more and more
distasteful. Had he followed the paths of ambition, as his inclination
prompted, had he but had the means of seeking some station whence he
might at length have risen to eminence, he cared not what the obstacles,
his union with her might not have been so difficult to overcome, or, at
least, he might not have met her; and did he wish that such had been the
case? no; misery in its most agonizing shape stood before him, and yet
the cause of that misery was the one bright star that appeared to gild
his lot.

A poor curate of a country parish, with no resources but his salary to
increase his scanty means, no power of rendering himself of consequence
in the eyes of the world; and, alas! the fruit of many years' hard
labour from father to son--one-half of which might have rendered him
sufficiently independent to have chosen his own profession--was gone.
Poor as he was, could he ever look forward to possess the hand of
Emmeline? he felt the utter impossibility, and bitterly he knew he loved
but to despair. These contending feelings diverted his thoughts as may
well be supposed, and caused him to be careless in the discharge of his
clerical duties, abrupt and strange in his manner with Mr. Howard; and
unfortunately there was one in the village who was ready to turn the
simplest circumstance to the young curate's disadvantage.

It was not likely the sinful and licentious man who, by Mr. Hamilton's
active exertions, had not only been dispossessed of the living of
Llangwillan, but very nearly of his gown also, would permit these, what
he termed injuries, to pass unavenged. Against the elder Myrvin he felt
his efforts would be unavailing, nor did he feel inclined to try a
second time, when he had once been foiled; but Arthur he believed a
surer mark. A farm of some consequence was to be let on Mr. Hamilton's
estate; it was very easy to settle in it a man lower in rank, but hard,
unrelenting as himself, an unprincipled instrument of his will. The
business was done, and the new neighbour, prepossessing in appearance
and manners, speedily ingratiated himself with all, and even obtained,
by a semblance of hard-working industry, and regular attendance at
public worship, seconded by quiet and unobtrusive conduct, the notice
and regard of his landlord, Mr. Hamilton.

This man had entered his farm about four or five months after Arthur had
been installed as Mr. Howard's curate, and cautiously and yet
successfully he executed the wily requirements of his employer. So
guardedly did he work, that no one could trace to him, who ever spoke
as the friend of their curate, the prejudice which had slowly but surely
penetrated the mind of every man against him, and interpreted his
simplest action in the worst light. There were some rumours afloat of
misdemeanours during his college life; it mattered not whether they were
true or false, they were received and encouraged by the credulous. He
was a Welshman too, full of evil qualities, and clothed with
invulnerable pride, which last idea was unfortunately confirmed by
Myrvin's distaste for his profession, which prevented his entering into
the joys and sorrows of his parishioners, mingling familiarly and kindly
with them as a minister of God should do.

How or when this prejudice began, or what was its origin, not one of the
good folks of the village could have told, for they really did not know;
but still it existed, and Arthur knew it. He felt himself disliked, and
instead of endeavouring to conciliate good-will and remove prejudice,
his mind was in such a fevered state of excitement, that he indulged in
every bitter feeling toward those with whom he had to deal, and shrunk
yet more from the performance of his duty. Instances of careless neglect
were often found, and became magnified in the relation. The young curate
was not always at hand when his presence was principally required; he
never left directions where he might be found. Abuse crept into that
parish, which in the time of his predecessor had been one of the most
orderly in Mr. Hamilton's domains--abuses in the younger inhabitants, at
which old men looked grave, and cited the neglect of their curate as the
cause, though to what abuses young Myrvin had given countenance all
would have found it difficult to tell. That he did not rebuke them it
was true; he did not perhaps observe them, but it was said, and justly,
he must have been strangely blind not to do so.

The villagers understood not that preoccupation of mind which does
indeed render us blind to all things, save to the one intense subject of

Complaints were made to and heard by the rector, who, faithful to his
trust, visited the parish, made inquiries, heard tales concerning his
curate that startled his charity, and finally spoke severely to Arthur
on his careless and neglectful conduct. It would have been better for
Arthur had pride remained banished during that interview; but,
unfortunately, fired with indignation at anything resembling censure
even from a superior, it returned with full force, and by his haughty
silence with regard to some of the charges brought against him, his
ill-disguised contempt of others, confirmed every evil report concerning
him which Mr. Howard had heard. Mildly he requested that the future
might atone for the past, and that Myrvin would remember the sacred post
he held. The unhappy young man heard him without reply; but when the
rector had departed, he strove to think soberly on the charges brought
against him, and look within himself to know if he deserved them.
Neglect and carelessness--yes, he had given cause for both. Other
accusations of much graver import he dismissed at once, satisfied that
the very thought of such vices had never even for one moment stained his
mind, and as secure in his own integrity and right feeling, as he was
aware of the prejudice against him, he determined--as, alas! how many in
such cases do--not to alter his general conduct, lest it should be said
he tacitly admitted the truth of every report against him. Had he only
been accused of neglect in parochial duties, he might perhaps, if his
troubled spirit had permitted him, have endeavoured to attend more
closely to them; but his pride prevented him from striving to obtain the
good-will of those who seemed only alive to every circumstance tending
to his disadvantage. Would he endeavour to conciliate those whom he well
knew disliked him? no; the very act of so doing would be brought against
him, and sternly he resolved that haughtiness and pride should still
characterise his deportment. What mattered it what people thought or
said, if it was untrue? he cared not; the world was a wilderness to his
excited and irritated fancy, in which there bloomed but one sweet
flower, too pure, too beautiful for him to touch. It was his doom he
thought to grovel on the earth, hers to shine like a star in the sphere
above him.

Not long after Mr. Howard's interview with his curate, Mr. Hamilton's
family and his guests arrived at Oakwood, and Herbert eagerly sought his
friend. He was shocked at the change he perceived in his appearance,
which, though marked, was yet quite indescribable; that Arthur was
unhappy, that his profession was more than ever distasteful to him, he
soon discovered; but the real cause of these feelings he tried in vain
to probe. He saw, with the deepest regret, that all his former
exhortations on the subject, his earnest entreaties that Arthur would
persevere till he brought a willing heart as an offering to his Maker,
all had been without effect; but yet his kind heart could not cast away
his friend, opposite as were their feelings on a subject which to
Herbert was of vital importance. It was strange that a character such
as Herbert Hamilton should have selected Arthur Myrvin for his chosen
friend, yet so it was. It might have been pity, sympathy, which had
first excited this friendship. The indignation he felt at the
unjustifiable treatment Arthur had received while a servitor at college
had excited an interest, which had at first completely blinded him to
his many faults; and when they were discovered, the ardent desire and
hope that he might be of service in removing them from the otherwise
noble character of his friend still preserved and, indeed, heightened
his regard. Though frequently disappointed during his absence, at the
brevity and sometimes even confused style of Arthur's letters, he had
buoyed himself up with the hope that his representations had had their
effect, and he should find him, on his return, reconciled and happy in
the exercise of his duties. Again he urged, with a kindness of manner
that caused Arthur to wring his hand, and then pace the room in
ill-concealed agony, the necessity, now that he had indeed taken orders,
of endeavouring to do his Master's work on earth, of forcing his
rebellious spirit to submission. Arthur listened to him attentively,
sadly; but vainly Herbert strove to instil in him a portion of that
heavenly love which was to him the main-spring of his life. Arthur loved
with an intensity, which utterly prevented his looking up to heaven as
the goal, to reach which all earthly toil was welcome; and still not
even to Herbert did he breathe one syllable of the fire that was
inwardly consuming him. Had he been any one but Herbert Hamilton, the
unhappy young man would have sought and found relief in his confidence;
but not to the brother of the being he loved, oh, not to him--he could
not, dared not.

"Herbert," he would say, in a voice hoarse with contending feelings,
"did I dare betray the secret of this tortured heart, the true cause of
my misery, you would pity, even if you condemned me; but ask it not--ask
it not, it shall never pass my lips; one thing only I beseech you, and I
do so from the regard you have ever seemed to feel for me. However you
may hear my character traduced, my very conduct may confirm every evil
report, yet believe them not; I may be miserable, imprudent, mad, but
never, never believe the name of Arthur Myrvin is stained with vice or
guilt. Herbert, promise me this, and come what may, one friend, at
least, is mine."

Herbert gazed on him with doubt, astonishment, and sorrow, yet an
irresistible impulse urged him to promise all he asked, and Myrvin
looked relieved; but painfully he felt, though he noticed it not to his
friend, that the manner of Mr. Hamilton towards him was changed;
cordiality and kindness had given place to coldness and reserve.

The whirl of a gay and happy London season had produced no change in the
outward appearance and demeanour of Emmeline Hamilton. It had not been
to her the ordeal it had been to her sister. She came forth from the gay
world the same pure, innocent being as she had entered it. Admired she
was by all with whom she was associated, but her smile was not sought
for, her conversation not courted, as had been Caroline's, therefore her
temptations had not been so great, but she was universally beloved.

Her mother sometimes wondered that Emmeline, keenly susceptible as she
was to every other emotion, should still remain so insensible to
anything resembling love. "She is indeed still the same innocent and
darling child," she thought, and rested in pleased and satisfied
security. She little knew, penetrating even as she was, that those young
affections were already unconsciously engaged, that one manly figure,
one melancholy yet expressive face utterly prevented the reception of
any other. Emmeline knew not herself the extent of influence that secret
image had obtained; she guessed not the whole truth until that night
when her marriage had been jestingly alluded to, and then it burst upon
her, stunning her young mind with a sense of scarcely-defined yet most
painful consciousness. Arthur Myrvin had looked to Emmeline's return to
Oakwood with many mingled feelings; she might be perhaps, even as her
sister, a betrothed bride; he might have to witness, perhaps to
officiate at her nuptials; he might see her courted, receiving
attentions from and bestowing smiles on others, not casting one look or
one thought on him, who for her would have gladly died. The idea was
agony, and it was the sufferings occasioned by the anticipation of ideal
misery that had produced the change in face and form which Herbert had
beheld and regretted.

They met, and as if fortune favoured their secret but mutual affection,
alone, the first time since Emmeline had returned from London.
Unaccustomed to control, and at that time quite unconscious she had
anything to conceal, though wondering why every pulse should throb, and
her cheek so flush and pale, her agitation of manner, her expressed and
evidently felt sorrow for the traces of suffering she beheld, sunk as
balm on the sorrowing heart of the young man, and his first three or
four interviews with her were productive of a happiness so exquisite,
that it almost succeeded in banishing his gloom; but short indeed was
that period of relief. Speedily he saw her, as he had expected,
surrounded by gay young men of wealth and station. He felt they looked
down on him; they thought not of him, as a rival he was unworthy, as
incapable of loving a being so exalted; but in the midst of these
wretched thoughts there arose one, that for a brief space was so bright,
so glad, so beautiful, that while it lasted every object partook its
rays. He marked her, he looked, with eyes rendered clear from jealousy,
for some sign, it mattered not how small, to say she preferred the
society of others to his own; ready as he was to look on the darkest
side of things, he felt the hesitating glance, the timid tone with which
she had latterly addressed him, contrary as it was to the mischievous
playfulness which had formerly marked her intercourse with him, was
dearer, oh, how much dearer than the gaiety in which she had indulged
with others. This change in her manner was unremarked by her family.

The eye of love, however, looked on those slight signs in a very
different light. Did she, could she love one so unworthy? The very idea
seemed to make him feel as a new and better man. He covered his eyes
with his hands, lest any outward sign should break that blessed
illusion, and then he started, and returning recollection brought with
it momentary despair. Did she even love him--were even her parents to
consent,--his own,--for his vivid and excited fancy for one minute
imagined what in more sober moments he knew was impossible--yet even
were such difficulties removed, would he, could he take that fair and
fragile creature from a home of luxury and every comfort to poverty?
What had he to support a wife? How could they live, and what hope had
he of increasing in any way his fortune? Was he not exciting her
affections to reduce them, like his own, to despair? And could she,
beautiful and delicate as she was, could she bear the deprivation of his
lot? She would never marry without the consent of her parents, and their
approval would never be his, and even if it were, he had nothing, not
the slightest hope of gaining anything wherewith to support her; and
she, if indeed she loved him, he should see her droop and sink before
his eyes, and that he could not bear; his own misery might be endured,
but not hers. No! He paced the small apartment with reckless and
disordered steps. His own doom was fixed, nothing could now prevent
it--but hers, it might not be too late. He would withdraw from her
sight, he would leave her presence, and for ever; break the spell that
bound him near her. Ere that hasty walk in his narrow room was
completed, his resolution was fixed; he would resign his curacy, and
depart from the dangerous fascinations hovering round him.

Yet still he lingered. If he had been too presumptuous in thinking thus
of Emmeline--if he were indeed nothing to her, why should he inflict
this anguish on himself? Why need he tear himself from her? The night of
Edward's return, while in one sense it caused him misery, by the random
remark of Lord Louis, yet, by the agitation of Emmeline, the pang was
softened, though he was strengthened in his resolve. Four days
afterwards, the very evening of that day when Mr. Howard had alluded to
his neglect of duties, before Herbert and his cousins, he tendered his
resignation, coldly and proudly refusing any explanation, or assigning
any reason for so doing, except that he wished to obtain a situation as
tutor in any nobleman or gentleman's family about to travel. So greatly
had the mind of Mr. Howard been prejudiced against the unhappy young
man, by the false representations of his parishioners, that he rather
rejoiced at Myrvin's determination, having more than once feared, if his
conduct did not alter, he should be himself compelled to dismiss him
from his curacy. But while pleased at being spared a task so adverse to
his benevolent nature, he yet could not refrain from regarding this
strange and apparently sudden resolution as a tacit avowal of many of
those errors with which he was charged.

Feeling thus, it will be no subject of surprise that Mr. Howard accepted
his curate's resignation; but while he did so, he could not refrain from
giving the young man some kind and good advice as to his future life,
which Arthur, aware the rector regarded him through the medium of
prejudice, received not in the same kind spirit as it was offered. He
listened silently indeed, but with an air of pride which checked all Mr.
Howard's really kind intentions in his favour.

The rector, aware that Mr. Hamilton would be annoyed and displeased at
this circumstance, did not inform him of Myrvin's intentions till some
few weeks after Caroline's marriage, not indeed till he felt compelled
by the wish to obtain his approval of a young clergyman who had been his
pupil, and was eager to secure any situation near Mr. Howard, and to
whom therefore the curacy Arthur had resigned would be indeed a most
welcome gift. Mr. Hamilton was even more disturbed, when all was told
him, than Mr. Howard had expected. It seemed as if Arthur had forgotten
every tie of gratitude which Mr. Hamilton's services to his father, even
forgetting those to himself, certainly demanded. His determined
resolution to assign no reason for his proceeding but the one above
mentioned, told against him, and Mr. Hamilton, aware of the many evil
reports flying about concerning the young man, immediately imagined that
he resigned the curacy fearing discovery of misdemeanours which might
end even more seriously.

Herbert, too, was deeply pained that his friend had left him to learn
such important intelligence from the lips of another instead of
imparting it himself. It explained all the apparent contradictions of
Arthur's conduct the last month, but it surprised and grieved him, yet
the mystery caused him both anxiety and sadness, for Myrvin was
evidently determined in no way to solve it. That he was unhappy in no
ordinary degree, was to the eye of friendship very evident, not only in
the frequent wildness of his manner, but in the haggard cheek and
bloodshot eye; and sympathy thus ever kept alive in one so keenly
susceptible of the woes of others as was Herbert Hamilton, sympathy
continually excited, prevented all decrease of interest and regard.
Percy was irritated and annoyed; Myrvin had disappointed him. His
conduct, in return for Mr. Hamilton's kindness, appeared as ungrateful
as unaccountable, and this caused the more fiery temper of the young
heir of Oakwood to ignite and burst forth in a flame in the presence of
Arthur, whose meek forbearance and, he now began to fancy, silent
suffering tamed him after a brief period, and caused him, with his usual
frankness and quick transition of mood, to make him an apology for his
violence. He was touched by the young man's manner, but they continued
not on the same terms of friendly intimacy as formerly.

Mrs. Hamilton's charitable nature, heightened also by Herbert's
unchanging regard, would not permit her to credit the tales that were
abroad concerning him. She regretted his determination, for it appeared
like wilfully casting away the friendship and interest of those who were
likely to do him service. She guessed not the real motive of his
resolve, if she had, she would have honoured even as she now regarded
him with pity; but almost for the first time the penetration of Mrs.
Hamilton was at fault. Emmeline's feelings, even as those of Arthur,
were successfully concealed; from her brother Herbert she had first
heard of Myrvin's intentions. She listened in silence, but her lip
quivered and her cheek grew pale; and when she sought the solitude of
her own room, tears relieved her, and enabled her to act up to her
determination, cost what it might, to be the same playful, merry girl
before her parents as was her wont, not that she meant in any way to
deceive them, but she had learned that she loved Arthur Myrvin, and knew
also that to become his wife, situated as they were, was a thing

Had Emmeline really been the romantic girl so generally believed, she
would now have done all in her power to overcome every difficulty, by
regarding poverty as the only criterion of true love; she would have fed
her imagination with visions of herself and Arthur; combating manfully
against evil, so they shared it together; she would have robed poverty
with an imaginary halo, and welcomed it, rejoicing to become his wife,
but such were not her feelings. The careful hand of maternal love had
done its work, and though enthusiasm and romance were generally the
characteristics most clearly visible, yet there was a fund of good and
sober sense within, that few suspected, and of which even her parents
knew not the extent, and that plain sense effectually prevented her ever
becoming the victim of imagination.

Emmeline loved Arthur Myrvin, loved him with an intensity, a fervour,
which only those who possess a similar enthusiastic temperament can
understand. She felt convinced she was not indifferent to him; but agony
as it was to her young heart to part from him, in all probability for
ever, yet she honoured his resolution; she knew, she felt its origin,
and she rejoiced that he went of his own accord, ere their secret
feelings were discovered.

Notwithstanding all her endeavours, her spirits flagged, and at the
conclusion of the Oakwood festivities she appeared so pale and thin,
that Mrs. Hamilton consulted Mr. Maitland. Emmeline had resisted, as
much as she could without failure of duty, all appeal to medical advice,
and it was with trembling she awaited his opinion; when, however, it was
given, she rejoiced that he had been consulted, for had her parents
entertained any suspicions of the real cause, it would have completely
banished them. He said she was merely suffering from the effects of a
lengthened period of excitement, that quiet and regularity of pursuits
would in all probability restore both health and spirits. A smile, faint
and apparently without meaning, played round her lips as her mother
repeated what he had said, and playfully declared she should most
strictly adhere to his advice.

Arthur had shrunk from the task of acquainting his father with his
intentions, for he well knew they would give him pain, and cause him
extreme solicitude, and he postponed doing so till his plans for the
future were determined. He had even requested Ellen and Edward, who were
still his friends, to say but little concerning him during their stay at
Llangwillan; but if they revealed his intentions, he implored them to
use all their influence with his father to reconcile him to this bitter
disappointment of his cherished hopes. He had determined not to return
to Llangwillan, he felt he could not bear to see his parent with the
consciousness that he had acted contrary to his wishes; he would not
therefore do so till he had succeeded in obtaining the situation he so
earnestly desired. But as the period when he should resign his curacy
now rapidly approached, he no longer refrained from writing to his
father, and Ellen proved her regard for both father and son, by
affectionately endeavouring to soothe Mr. Myrvin's disappointment and
solicitude, which were, as his son expected, extreme. She succeeded, at
length, in persuading him, that could he obtain the situation he so much
desired, Arthur would be more likely to advance than in retaining his
present occupation.

The period of Arthur's departure came a few days before Christmas. He
went to bid Mr. Hamilton farewell the very morning on which that
gentleman intended riding over to Exeter to meet Ellen and her brother,
on their return from Llangwillan. To Arthur this interview was indeed a
painful one. From the moment his resolution to depart had been fixed,
that moment the blessed truth had strangely and suddenly burst upon him
that he was beloved; a new spirit appeared to dawn within, and midst
the deep agony it was to feel he was parting for ever from a being he so
dearly loved, there was a glow of approving conscience that nerved him
to its endurance. It was this which had enabled him to conquer his
irritation at Percy's violence, and the grief it was to feel that
Herbert too must doubt him. He esteemed, he loved, was deeply grateful
to Mr. Hamilton, and his evident displeasure was hard to bear; yet even
that he had borne, strengthened by secret yet honourable incentives. But
that morning, his heart throbbing with ill-concealed anguish, for the
following day he would he miles from Oakwood, never, never to behold
Emmeline again, his frame weakened, his blood fevered from the
long-continued mental struggle, the stern address of Mr. Hamilton stung
him to the quick.

Mr. Hamilton was not one of those who could disguise his sentiments. If
interested at all in the fortunes of another, he felt he must speak,
however severe in some cases his words might seem. As the chosen friend
of his son--the victim for a time of oppression and injury--young Myrvin
had excited his interest too powerfully for him entirely to abandon it
even now, and therefore he spoke plainly to him even as he thought.

"You are casting from you," he said, "a friend who was both able and
willing to assist you, apparently without the slightest regret, even
with indifference. As the chosen and dear companion of my valued son,
your interests were mine, and gladly would I have done all in my power
to forward your views, had your conduct been such as I expected and
required, but such it appears has been far from the case. Your
unaccountable resignation of a situation, which, though not one of
great emolument, was yet of value, unhappily confirms every evil report
I have heard. The same unsteady and wavering spirit which urges you to
travel, instead of permitting you to remain contented in the quiet
discharge of sacred duties, may lead you yet more into error, and I warn
you as a friend, govern it in time. You may deem me intrusive in my
remarks, I speak but for your own good, young man; and though your
forgetfulness of the sacred nature of your profession could not fail to
lessen my esteem and regard, yet for your father's sake I would implore
you to remember that your calling involves duties of the most solemn
nature, and renders you a much more responsible being both in the sight
of God and man."

Arthur answered him not. His cheek burned and his heart throbbed, but it
was the father of Emmeline, the benefactor of his father, who spoke, and
he might have spoken more and more severely, but he would have been
unanswered; even to defend his own stainless integrity and innocence he
could not have spoken, the power of speech appeared to have entirely
deserted him. Never could he have been said to hope, but the words he
had heard proved to him that he had lost the esteem and regard of Mr.
Hamilton, and darkened his despair. He fixed his large, dark grey eyes
earnestly on Mr. Hamilton's face, so earnestly, that for some time
afterwards that look was recalled with melancholy feelings; he bent his
head silently yet respectfully, and quitted the room without uttering a
single word.

Struck by his haggard features, and the deeply mournful tone of his
voice, as he bade her farewell and thanked her for all her kindness,
Mrs. Hamilton, whose kindly nature had never permitted her to share her
husband's prejudice against him, invited him, if his time permitted, to
accompany her on her walk to Moorlands, where she had promised Lady
Helen and Lilla to spend the day during her husband's absence. There was
such extreme kindness in her manner, pervading also her words, that
Arthur felt soothed and comforted, though he found it difficult to
converse with her on the indifferent subjects she started, nor could he
answer her concerning his plans for the future, for with a burning cheek
and faltering voice he owned they were not yet determined. He gazed on
her expressive features, which responded to the interest she expressed,
and he longed to confess the whole truth, and implore her pity, her
forgiveness for having dared to love her child; but with a strong effort
he restrained himself, and they parted, in kindness, indeed, but nothing

"Emmeline is gone down to the school," said Mrs. Hamilton, unasked, and
thus betraying how entirely she was free from all suspicions of the
truth, "and she goes from thence to see a poor woman in the outskirts of
the village. You must not leave us without wishing her farewell, or she
will think you have not forgiven all the mischievous jokes she has
played off upon you so continually."

Arthur started, as he looked on her face. Again the wish arose to tell
her all, but it was instantly checked, and bowing with the deepest
reverence, as he pressed in his her offered hand, hastily withdrew.

Should he indeed see Emmeline, and alone? Her mother's voice had bid him
seek her, but the same motives that bade him resign his curacy, caused
him now to feel the better course would be to fly at once from the
fascination of her presence, lest in a moment of excitement he should be
tempted to betray the secret of his love; but while passion struggled
with duty, the flutter of her dress, as Emmeline suddenly emerged from a
green lane, and walked slowly and, he thought, sadly along, caught his
eye, and decided the contest.

"I will be guarded; not a word of love shall pass my lips. I will only
gaze on her sweet face, and listen to the kind tones of her dear voice
again, before we part for ever," he thought, and darting forwards, was
speedily walking by her side. He believed himself firm in his purpose,
strong, unwavering in his resolution; but his heart had been wrung to
its inmost core, his spirit bent beneath its deep, wild agony, and at
that moment temptation was too powerful; he could not, oh, he could not
part from her, leave her to believe as others did. Could he bear that
she, for whose smile he would have toiled day and night, to be regarded
with esteem, to obtain but one glance of approbation, could he bear that
she should think of him as the unworthy being he was represented? No! he
felt he could not, and in one moment of unrestrained and passionate
feeling, his love was told, the treasured secret of his breaking heart

Emmeline heard, and every limb of her slight frame trembled, almost
convulsively, with her powerful struggle for composure, with the wish
still to conceal from him the truth that he was to her even as she to
him, dear even as life itself; but the struggle was vain. The anguish
which the sight of his deep wretchedness inflicted on that young and
gentle bosom, which from childhood had ever bled for others' woes, was
too powerful, and led on by an irresistible impulse, she acknowledged
his affections were returned; for she felt did she not speak it, the
extreme agitation she could not hide would at once betray the truth, but
at the same instant she avowed her unhappy love, she told him they must
part and for ever. She conjured him for her sake to adhere to his
resolution, and leave the neighbourhood of Oakwood; she thanked him with
all the deep enthusiasm of her nature, for that regard for her peace
which she felt confident had from the first dictated his resigning his
curacy, and braving the cruel prejudices of all around him, even those
of her own father, rather than betray his secret and her own; rather
than linger near her, to play upon her feelings, and tempt her, in the
intensity of her affection for him, to forget the duty, the gratitude,
the love, she owed her parents.

"Wherefore should I hide from you that the affection, the esteem you

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