First Love: A Novel. Vol. 3 of 3 by Loudon, Mrs. (Margracia)
IN THREE VOLUMES.
LONDON: SAUNDERS AND OTLEY, CONDUIT STREET. 1830.
“I love thee not.”
We left our party concluding breakfast on the morning after the masquerade. The ladies shortly after repaired to the great room, whither they were soon followed by some of the gentlemen, among others the Marquis of H. The scene afforded a striking contrast to that of the evening before: Sir Archibald’s mysterious death, together with the atrocious attempt on the life of Captain Montgomery, seemed to have given a shock to the gay spirits of all. Those who spoke at all, spoke almost in whispers, their themes murders, mysteries, and sudden deaths.
Mr. Graham, reclining on a _chaise longue_, was very nearly asleep, and Lady Morven was already yawning. Julia happened to enter the green-house, and was immediately followed thither by the Marquis. Wise looks were interchanged by the rest of the company. Half an hour, an hour, nay, a quarter more elapsed, but neither Julia nor the Marquis re-appeared. At length Frances entered the green-house. Lo, the birds had flown! Julia was found in her own room writing to her grandmamma.
But the Marquis’s seat at the dinner table was vacant. The servants could give no account of his lordship; but, that he had left the castle on horse-back some hours since. Julia was observed to colour a little, when the Marquis’s absence was noticed.
Lord Fitz-Ullin was again at sea; and our hero had again sailed with him. A new harvest of glory was being reaped by both. Almost every column of every newspaper was filled with the movements of the fleet under the command of Admiral Lord Fitz-Ullin; and in every account did the name of Captain Montgomery stand pre-eminent in the ranks of glory. No wonder then if that name often fixed the eye of Julia.
Indeed, the moment she took up a paper, it was the first word she saw! It seemed written in talismanic characters! It stood out from the page, and offered itself to her view, ere, at least, she was conscious of having sought for it. Yet there were those (and among them Lord Arandale,) who suspected that Henry was the object of her thoughts, when her face and neck became suffused with blushes on her being found with a newspaper in her hand.
At length, Lord Fitz-Ullin lost his life in the achievement of one of the most brilliant of his victories. The whole nation mourned in the midst of triumph!
The papers in which, so lately, the heart-stirring deeds of the living hero followed each other in rapid succession, were now, with a mournful sameness, as chilling to the excited imagination as the still scene they represented, filled, from end to end, with the solemn lying in state of the unconscious corse, the funeral lighting of the chamber of death, the silent mourners, who watched with the dead night and day, the sombre splendours of the body’s last receptacle. The numerous banners waving their shattered remnants over it; the noiseless steps of the spectators, as they approached, gazed, and passed, treading a flooring that returned no echo to their footfalls; the firing of minute guns by the forts, the lowering of their colours half mast high, by all the vessels at the Nore, and in the harbour; the muffled peal of the bells; in short, every demonstration of what was the feeling of all, in which a nation could unite its myriad tongues in one voice of woe.
In addition to the numerous attendance, professional and official, which was almost a matter of course, the mortal remains of the hero were to be followed to the grave by many of the princes of the blood, and all the principal nobility of the kingdom. Among the latter, Lord Arandale intended to take his place; and Mrs. Montgomery consented, by letter, to her grand-daughters accompanying their aunt and uncle to town on the occasion.
… “Britain, Well named Great! Mistress of the seas, arb’tress Of the earth; dread of the oppressor, refuge Of th’ oppressed; bulwark of liberty, hav’n Of hope, standard of justice.”——
“The forms of thy sons, in sculptured story, Shall to distant times appear, triumph’s wreaths Their brows entwining.”——
Our party completed their journey to town late the day before the internment was to take place. Arrangements previously made by Lord Arandale, had secured for them places in the cathedral. The pomps attendant on the funerals of officers of Lord Fitz-Ullin’s rank, being too well known to require description, we shall only slightly remark the impressions made on the mind of our heroine, who, for Edmund’s sake, was more than commonly interested in the solemn scene.
The procession having entered, the service commenced; the effect of the sublime parts of which, on the feelings of Julia, were such, together with the all-pervading grandeur of the music; the slow, but constant movement of the passing figures; and the still solemnity of all things else, that, yielding to the one absorbing sense of admiring awe, she seemed wrapped in a species of trance, while, from time to time, a single voice in the choir, separating itself from among the body of sound, would reach her ear, pronouncing, with peculiar distinctness, some impressive sentence.
Pious enthusiasm stole over her heart, as, with thrilling sweetness, a youthful voice sang, “And now, Lord, what is my hope? truly my hope is even in thee!” Again, when the voice proclaimed, “Man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain!” how contemptible seemed the struggles of worldly ambition for the precedence of an hour! And now the voice pronounced, “In the midst of life, we are in death!” And poor Julia thought of Edmund, and of the dangers of the sea; and her heart died within her. It so happened that the countenances most immediately in the view of our heroine, were those of a number of the oldest naval officers, who were of course, in general, the oldest men, as the grey hair, thinly scattered on the brow of many told.
At the moment Julia first remarked this, voices in the choir were singing the verse, “Though men be so strong that they come to fourscore years, yet is their strength but labour and sorrow, so soon passeth it away, and we are gone.” No eye wandered, no limb was restless, while the very stillness of each motionless figure possessed expression. It was not repose; it was not listlessness; it was the fixedness of serious attention.
Many of the countenances bore the traces, not of age only, but also of hardships. Hardships endured. Wherefore? To render home a sanctuary! A sanctuary to infirmity, to infancy, to those of her own sex, to all, in short, who were unable to defend themselves! Julia’s enthusiasm arose: How beautifying, she thought, is every furrow so produced.
She pictured to herself each individual now so quiescent in form; so still in feature; on the deck of his floating citadel, surmounting a tempest, or conquering an enemy.
Midnight, winter, every adventitious circumstance, crowded on her poetic imagining, of what though she had never seen, yet she had so often studied in description, that, of all subjects, it was the one most familiar to her fancy. Ship after ship arose before her mind’s eye; till, gradually, they formed themselves into an invincible bulwark around our happy isles, establishing them the throne of peace; while wild warfare desolated the outer world! “Yes,” thought Julia, “even our foes find refuge here, when oppression hunts them from their homes!” And her heart swelled with pride, that she was the native of such a land! The gradations of rank faded before this grand distinction; to be a Briton, seemed exaltation sufficient! She paused a moment—“How proud a thing then to be one of those who have made Britain what she is,” whispered a small voice within the heart of Julia. At the moment her eye was fixed in a certain direction, by the moving a little forward of a figure, hitherto intercepted by an opposite pillar—it was Edmund! Her heart ceased beating, fluttered, ceased again, then beat so rapidly as to impede her breathing.
Edmund leaned against the pillar, and seemed listening attentively to the music; he had not yet perceived Julia. Her eyes dwelt on the serious and mournful expression of his noble features, with feelings, where tenderness seemed to excuse admiration, and admiration to justify tenderness. His head turned, in a degree scarcely perceptible. Their eyes met: a sudden glow covered the face of Edmund, and faded instantly; a look passed, understood by both to be one of recognition, tho’ expressed only by the standing still of the eye. The time, the circumstances, were too solemn for more. A voice in the choir pronouncing, “Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts,” seemed to Julia a reproach, for the mingling of earthly feelings, which had already found a place in her bosom.
During the performance of the service, evening approached, and lights became necessary. The coffin had been placed on a platform in the centre of the church; the canopy had been removed, the pall taken off; the solemn scene, situated thus, immediately beneath the principal source of light, while all things else remained in comparative obscurity, had an effect, imposing in the highest degree. The numerous assembly of spectators, imperfectly seen,—the occasional gleaming of the arms and accoutrements of the soldiers,—the shadowy perspective of the aisles,—all became tributary circumstances, lending additional impressiveness to the principal object.
There was at this time a total silence throughout the church. After some moments, the voice of the officiating clergyman was heard, singly, and solemnly, pronouncing the concluding sentences. And now, the words, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” fell on the senses with that chill, that shuddering, involuntary sympathy with the unconscious tenant of the grave, which instinct grants, while reason would withhold. The startling sounds from without, of the discharge, by signal, of artillery, were heard at the moment, and Julia was aroused from meditation on the sleep of the grave, by the awful thought of the last trumpet awaking the dead to judgment.
When the firing ceased, the leading voice of the choir again arose, and floating over the solemn scene like some invisible dweller in its hallowed light, sang the inspired and inspiring words, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord! even so, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours.”
The organ pealed, and now a voice more solemn than the last, sang, or rather seemed to say, “His body is buried in peace!” An hundred voices at once broke forth in reply, triumphantly proclaiming, “But his name liveth evermore! his name liveth evermore!”
“My heart is not of yon rock, nor my soul Careless as that sea, that lifts its wide waves To every wind! If Fingall return not, The grave shall hold Comala!”
As Lord Arandale’s carriage returned that evening from the cathedral to Hanover-square, it was overtaken by a chariot and four, driving at the utmost speed that could be attempted in the streets of London. Some communication passed between the servants, and both equipages drew up. It being lamp light only, and Lady Arandale’s shoulder and hat, while her Ladyship shook hands with, and spoke to some invisible inmate of the other carriage, effectually blocking up the window on that side, Julia could not see any thing; but she heard the voice of Arthur, crying, “Good bye! Good bye!” And that Of Lady Arandale saying, “But shall we not see you? Shall we not see you?”
The carriage, then, must be our hero’s, and he must, by a look or shake of the head, have implied a negative; for Lady Arandale spoke again, saying, “Oh, I am sorry for that! Farewell, then! farewell! You’re a good lad: Heaven bless you! Good bye, Arthur, my dear,” she added, in a more careless tone. A hand, meanwhile, was stretched past Lady Arandale to offer the farewell grasp to those within the carriage. Julia gave hers when it came to her turn; and certainly, whether the invisible person was aware whose it was or not, it was held longer, and with a tenderer pressure than any other. The moment after it had been released, she at last heard the well-known voice of Edmund, though scarcely audible from suppressed emotion: it said only, “Go on.” And immediately the chariot drove away.
There was surely nothing affecting or tender in those two little words; yet, they smote on the heart of Julia like an electric shock. They were, at once, the first she had heard from Edmund’s lips for many weeks, and the signal for his present departure, it might be for years, it might be for ever!
The long-cherished feelings of tender affection for the dear speaker, vibrated to the tones of that loved voice; and long after they had passed away, did they seem to linger on the sense of hearing, like the faint notes of receding music: How often had those very tones been heard addressed to herself, and saying the kindest things! Her eyes overflowed with irrepressible tears. She could have envied, at the moment, the very postillions. Yet it could not have been because those words had been addressed to them; perhaps it was, because they were going with Edmund. He must, she knew, be hastening to join his ship. He was hastening, then, to danger, possibly to death—for when we have just witnessed any impressive instance of mortality, how fragile, how precarious, seems the hold on life, of those whose lives are precious to us!
As Julia leaned back in the farther corner of the carriage, and, sheltered by the darkness, indulged in continued weeping, she thought of the devotion of Marmion’s page with an admiration and a sympathy she had never felt before: not that she meditated following that page’s example.
When Lord Arandale joined the family party at their very late dinner, he told them that Captain Montgomery had mentioned to him his having made an attempt to see them that morning, knowing that after the funeral he should not have one moment at his own disposal; but that, not being aware that they would go to the cathedral so early, he had missed them. Captain Montgomery had also explained to him (his Lordship said) that his young friend Ormond (now Fitz-Ullin) was so overwhelmed by grief for the sudden loss of his father, that he was quite unfit for any exertion (he was, in fact, so ill as to be confined to his bed); and that he had, therefore, particularly requested that Captain Montgomery would, during the solemnization of the funeral, represent him, by taking throughout the various parts of the public ceremonials, the place which properly belonged to the son of the late Earl. Captain Montgomery had not, consequently, been able to command a moment of his own time, while in town; and the necessity for joining the fleet with the utmost speed, was such, that a chariot and four had been in waiting for him at one of the doors of the cathedral, during all the latter part of the service.
“If this heart must break, why delay the stroke? Rend at once the veiling cloud; no phantom Of the future, can surpass the wildness Of Comala’s fears.”
“In vain I close mine eyes, through their sealed lids, I see his blood!”
The sisters had returned to Lodore, and passed some quiet months in its peaceful seclusion, when one morning Mrs. Montgomery, handing an open letter to her grand-daughter across the breakfast-table, said, “It is from your father: we may expect to see him every day.”
Both daughters expressed pleasure and surprise; but Frances’s hand was the first extended. Julia had opened a newspaper. Her eye was glancing over its columns, and had just encountered the words, “Euphrasia frigate, Captain Montgomery.” Lord L.’s letter was read, and discussed; and during the moments of suspense thus occasioned, Julia felt her trepidation increase to a degree that warned her how little she could trust herself to peruse a paragraph containing such magical words before witnesses. She, therefore, stole from the room, carrying the paper with her. Julia was not at first missed. But when a considerable time had elapsed without her being seen, and that Mr. Jackson, who came in shortly, began to inquire for the newspaper; Frances, not without feelings of alarm, which had something very near the truth for their object, sought her sister. The door was locked. Frances called softly on Julia’s name. There was no reply! She called louder still. All continued silent within! She made hasty and repeated efforts to gain admittance. At length, in accents of terror, she alarmed the house. The door was forced open, and Julia found insensible on the floor, with the newspaper lying beside her.
The paragraph she had evidently been reading, ran as follows:—
“A report has just reached us from the fleet off * * * *, that the Hurricane, Lord Fitz-Ullin; and the Euphrasia, Captain Montgomery; being detached from the squadron, fell in with a number of armed vessels of the enemy. That, the result was, as usual, brilliant; but, we regret to add, that the glory obtained on this occasion, has been dearly purchased; the gallant Captain Montgomery having lost his life in the engagement. The private letter, from which our account is taken, states distinctly, that a cannon ball was seen to sweep him from the deck of his ship, at the very moment when the last of the French vessels lowered her colours. In our next, we shall be able to give the public, a detailed and official account of this affair.”
That evening, a few hurried lines arrived from Henry, written on board the tender of the Euphrasia, of which he had the command, and which was conveying the same intelligence to the fleet. They confirmed the newspaper report of Edmund’s death by a cannon-ball, at the moment when the last of the enemy’s ships struck her colours. He had been standing for some time, in a very conspicuous situation; and Henry had seen the ball sweep him from the spot! Henry wrote in this haste, he said, that his aunt might not see it first in the papers. With great affectation of consideration, he requested Julia, (to whom the letter was addressed,) to take her own opportunity of breaking it properly to her grandmother; and then went on to observe, (by way of consolation,) that Edmund could not have suffered much, as he was shattered into a thousand atoms in less than two seconds!! Indeed, must have been, from the amazing height, that he, Henry, had himself seen the ball fling him into the air. Henry had been, at the time, he added, alongside in the Tender, waiting, as he had said, to convey the account of the capture of the enemy to the fleet. He had been so near, therefore, that he had seen the whole transaction, as distinctly as if he had been on board the Euphrasia.
The same post brought a supplement to the paper of the morning, giving a detailed account of the engagement, and of the manner of Captain Montgomery’s death.
Of course, neither letter nor paper were mentioned to Julia.
While Mr. Jackson is opening the newspaper, and putting on his spectacles, to read it aloud to Mrs. Montgomery and Frances, in an adjoining room, and Mrs. Smyth sits at Julia’s bedside, we shall lay before our readers the circumstances, or rather private feelings, which probably led to the present rash, though brilliant affair.
At the time of Admiral Lord Fitz-Ullin’s death, Edmund had found the task of consoling his young friend Ormond (now Fitz-Ullin) difficult indeed. Not only was the grief of Fitz-Ullin overwhelming, but his self-reproaches were heart-rending. “He had never,” he vehemently exclaimed, “been what his father wished him to be!” He had disappointed all the hopes of the kindest, the best, the most indulgent of parents! That parent had died without the consolation of leaving behind him a son worthy of perpetuating his glorious name. How could he be careless of the wishes of such a parent! Yet he had always intended to exert himself, and become all that his father could wish; and now—now he could never do so. Edmund should have been his son: Edmund of whom he would have been so proud! Our hero, after trying calmer and more religious consolations in vain, endeavoured to arouse his friend by suggesting, that the most acceptable offering he could make to the memory of his father, was to strike at once into the brilliant path his father had quitted. Fitz-Ullin’s spirit, gentle and indolent as it was in general, in its present state of excitation, took fire at the thought; but, alas! he had neither talent nor steadiness to sustain him in the high resolves which such feelings suggested. The insufficient impulse carried him into the midst of daring undertakings, and there left him, astounded at his own boldness, and pausing whether he should proceed or return. Thus, dangers were incurred, and yet, results not reached.
The business now before the public, and which took place a few months after Fitz-Ullin’s going to sea in the same fleet with Edmund, affords a striking illustration of the fatal consequences of adventitious excitement, thus operating on a naturally weak character. The particulars were now read by Mr. Jackson; the sum of them was as follows:
The Hurricane, a large frigate, commanded by Lord Fitz-Ullin, being detached from the fleet off * * * *, was cruising along the coast. It was after midnight, and excessively dark, when the signals of enemies’ ships were seen in shore; but of what description the vessels were, or in what numbers, could not be even guessed. At length, the first breaking of dawn beginning to render objects a little more definable, they perceived the enemy consisted of no less a number than seven large, armed vessels.
“The young Earl, who seems,” said the papers, “to inherit the high daring of his noble father,” gave immediate orders to clear for action. In the mean time, he bore down upon the enemy, and took up, unfortunately, a far from favourable position. It was one, however, in which he could bring a broadside to bear on some of the French vessels. In endeavouring to get the Hurricane into a better chosen situation, Fitz-Ullin, from the ignorance consequent on his former neglect of the service, committed so many blunders, that by the time she was anchored, it was found that she had actually got her stern to the enemy in such a position, that for some time she was exposed to their fire, while but one of her guns could bear on them.
Fitz-Ullin suddenly walked up to the officer of the marines, who was overseeing his men, as they manned the guns of the quarter-deck: “Why, you are doing nothing here, Sir,” he exclaimed.
“Nothing can be done, my Lord,” said the officer, “while the ship remains in this position.”
Fitz-Ullin turned away without reply; but, a moment after, ordered the cable to be cut, and stood out to sea. The enemy, who lay close under the protection of some of their own batteries on the shore, continued stationary.
Fitz-Ullin dispatched a cutter to the squadron, desiring that the aid of a frigate might be sent him, to capture some ships of the enemy: but without mentioning their number, or the batteries by which they were protected. To his public demand he added a private letter, requesting that the vessel sent might be the Euphrasia, Captain Montgomery. The Admiral, an old friend of his father’s, issued orders accordingly.
Fitz-Ullin, when he saw the frigate coming towards him, under a press of sail, and remembered that she was commanded by the steady friend, to whose talents he so much looked up, felt his spirit strengthened, and sent an officer on board, requesting, that as he had first descried the enemy, his ship might be permitted to move foremost to the attack. This was granted, of course, and he led in, in great style, the Euphrasia following. When, suddenly, and to the utter astonishment of all, Fitz-Ullin called out, “Man the cluelines! Shorten sail!” The order being obeyed, the Euphrasia, of course, passed them, envied by every officer, aye, and every sailor too, on board the Hurricane: and no wonder, for at the moment it was really a magnificent sight, to behold her advancing boldly in the very front of peril on seven of the enemy, supported by batteries on shore, now opening their fire. But in consequence of the late shifting of a sand-bank, of which the pilots were not aware, the Euphrasia, while still rapidly advancing, unfortunately ran aground; and thus rooted, as it were, to one spot, became the very target at which every gun from ship or battery was instantly levelled.
Fitz-Ullin, whose wavering mind seized on the one idea of the danger he saw the leading vessel in the very act of incurring, called, “Let go the anchor!”
“Not here, for heaven’s sake!” cried the first lieutenant, running up to him, and pointing to the enemy’s ships on one side, and the Euphrasia on the other; thus indicating that their own vessel must, in her actual situation, receive the fire of both, and prevent that of their consort reaching the enemy. While this was passing, the sailors at the anchor involuntarily suspended their hands for a moment, during which, the vessel, as she was moving with some velocity through the water, shot a few lengths further ahead. The command, “Let go the anchor,” was reiterated by Fitz-Ullin. The anchor now fell, and fixed them in a position which, though less dreadful than that they had just passed, was still one of more peril, and less efficiency, than might have been chosen. Such as it was, however, it was bravely maintained; for not even the contradictory orders of this, unhappily, so ill-qualified commander, could, once fighting commenced, keep British officers and British sailors from doing their duty.
The Euphrasia, in her terrible, but fortunately, very effective situation, was behaving most gallantly. She was the central object, necessarily alone, and involved in a cloud of smoke, through which the silent flashes of her guns were still seen, preceding by an awful second the loud thunders of destruction, issuing peal after peal from both her sides.
Fitz-Ullin, as the wreaths of smoke from time to time blew aside on her deck, could discern the figure of Edmund, now here, now there, busily engaged, encouraging and directing his men in all quarters.
Gun after gun, from the batteries was silenced; ship after ship, of the enemy struck; and the contest seemed nearly concluded. The Euphrasia was at length seen to pour a formidable broadside into the last remaining vessel which still displayed French colours. The fire was not answered.
Fitz-Ullin kept his eyes anxiously fixed on the moving wreaths of smoke, in which the frigate’s own guns had now again enveloped her. When these began to disperse a little, he beheld, emerging from the white vapour, at an unusual elevation, the figure of his friend; at first but faintly seen, afterwards more distinctly, but still, for some seconds, itself the only palpable object. Gradually it became evident, that Edmund stood out on one of the flukes of the anchor, now partly visible, and which was made fast to the bows. He seemed endeavouring to look through the thickened atmosphere towards the enemy’s colours, as if to ascertain whether they were about to be lowered, ere he should again fire. The enemy were also partly shrouded; but her rigging and masts appeared, and shortly her colours were seen descending. At the same moment, the last gun, which was still effective, fired from the batteries.
Fitz-Ullin saw the ball enter the cloud of smoke, and, a second after, carry with it the form of Edmund! He could actually descry his friend’s feet lifted from the spot whereon they had stood. He clasped his hands over his eyes, but too late—the fearful sight had been seen—it continued to float before their closed vision. He groaned with agony of mind. When he again looked, the deck of the Euphrasia, from which the smoke was fast clearing, had become a scene of evident hustle and confusion.
He saw, with breathless impatience, every moving figure collecting to a central point. He called for his boat four or five times in one minute. It came—he leaped into it—it remained without motion, for no order had been given. He pointed to the frigate, and his men pulled towards her.
While crossing the open space between the ships, the Euphrasia’s Tender passed them. A person on its deck, in a loud and distinct voice, said, “Captain Montgomery is killed!”
Fitz-Ullin shuddered. His nerves recoiled from the sounds. He had himself seen his friend fall; yet the admission of the fact through the medium of a new sense, seemed capable of inflicting a new pang.
“Who named the King of Morven?—Alas, he lies In his blood on Lena:—Why did they tell me That he fell? I might have hoped, a little While, his return—I might have thought I saw him On the far heath—A tree might have deceived me For his form—The wind of the hill sounded As his shield in mine ear.”
The grief of all at Lodore was so great, that Julia’s overwhelming share of it did not cause any suspicion as to the nature of her sentiments. The feeling of every one, down to the lowest servant in the house, was the same, as if Edmund had really been the son or grandson of Mrs. Montgomery. Every one’s heart was full, no one had time to be sagacious.
Frances alone, though without any formal confidence, had for some time understood the secret of her sister’s heart. As soon, therefore, as Mr. Jackson had gone, and Mrs. Montgomery retired, she dismissed all attendants, and through a long and dreadful night continued to whisper to an ear, which yet seemed not to hear: “The account is not official, Julia, and Mr. Jackson does not believe it. Julia! Julia! Mr. Jackson does not believe it.” This, however, was a sort of pious fraud; for Frances, who had seen Henry’s letter, and the supplement to the paper, had herself no such hope, as her words were meant to inspire. Julia did not speak in reply; but, from time to time, by a scarcely perceptible pressure of her sister’s hand, she showed there was a consciousness of the kindly efforts to offer comfort. After the lapse of some hours spent thus, she betrayed, by a slight movement, that she was watching for the day-light. As soon as it dawned, she quietly and silently left her bed. Frances, without asking any questions, folded a wrapper carefully round her sister. Julia seated herself, and became again motionless. Frances knelt beside her, put her arms about her, and watched her countenance. For a long time all was still; nothing was heard but Julia’s heavy sighs, following each other at regular intervals, and the gentle, and but occasional soothings of Frances’ voice.
At length the servants began to move about. At each slightest noise, Julia started, listened, and the throbbing of her heart became audible, increased till it shook her frame, and then, as the sounds that had caused it, died away, subsided gradually, till a footstep, or an opening door, being again heard; it would again leap up, and run on with a tumultuous rapidity that scarcely left her power to breathe. This fearful state lasted some hours, when, at length, the postman’s well known knock on a door already open, was heard. Julia had disappeared before Frances had time to comprehend the nature of the sudden movement with which she had started from her seat. Frances followed, and found her in the hall, endeavouring, with fingers as powerless as those of a new born babe, to open a letter. Frances assisted to break the seal. It was from Edmund himself, addressed to Mrs. Montgomery. He was alive! He was well! When Julia, by Frances’s good management and a few hours passed quietly in her own apartment, was enabled to assume something like self command, the joyful tidings were spread throughout the house. The letter, and a paper which came by the same post, were then read with eager delight by all.
Edmund, in his letter, expressed a hope of seeing them soon, if it were but for an hour; and much kind solicitude respecting their feelings, should the false report of his death reach them before this precautionary epistle. The sum of the contents of the paper, which accompanied this letter, was as follows:—
The last statement, it may be remembered, left Fitz-Ullin crossing the space between the two ships. While getting on board the Euphrasia he beheld the figure of an officer, who was busily engaged on the quarter deck, and whose proportions and air instantly riveted his whole attention. The officer turned round; the countenance was Edmund’s. He was giving hasty orders for taking advantage of the tide, which was now beginning to flow. Occasionally he passed his hand across his forehead, or held it a moment before his eyes, while his officers were collected round him, earnestly recommending a few moments repose.
“I am quite well now,” he replied, “if we do not get her off this tide she will go to pieces before the next. When there is time to think of it, I shall lose a little blood,” he added, in answer to a strong remonstrance from the surgeon.
Fitz-Ullin, at the moment, rushed through the circle into the arms of his friend.
“The exertions of Captain Montgomery,” continued the paper, “to get his ship afloat, were ably seconded by Lord Fitz-Ullin and the officers and crews of both vessels, and finally crowned with success.”
After which, the next object became to secure the numerous captures made in the course of that brilliant day. This was effected with much labour, by literally towing them out from under their own silenced batteries.
And when, at length, the two detached ships were seen returning from their victorious expedition, and approaching the fleet with their little squadron of prizes in tow, the hearty and general cheering with which they were received was such as baffles all description; still less would it be possible to convey any adequate idea of the enthusiasm with which that cheering was doubled and redoubled, when Captain Montgomery, who, from the accounts brought to the fleet by the cutter, was believed to have fallen, was discerned standing on his quarter deck, waving his hat, and bowing, in return for the congratulations of all.
On joining the fleet, our hero learnt, for the first time, the report which had prevailed of his death, and that it had been carried to England. In consequence, he dispatched the letter to Mrs. Montgomery, which we have seen Julia and Frances, as soon as they perceived Edmund’s writing on the cover, so unceremoniously tearing open.
The paper, as might be expected, expatiated at great length on the gratified feelings with which they found themselves enabled to contradict the report of Captain Montgomery’s death. The subject, in short, engrossed every column of every public print of the day. There was scarcely room for an advertisement! Wherever you cast your eye, Captain Montgomery, in large letters, appeared before you. Every figure of newspaper rhetoric was set forth: the pathetic, the heroic, the sublime, but above all, the triumphant.
“… It is the noble brow Of Fingall; the kindly look of his eyes. It is not now a shadow which deludes My sight.—These are his hands.—I feel their warm Pressure.”
“Has the bright tear of joy no welcome told?”
Julia, supported and advised by Frances, made great exertions to seem to partake, with a natural share of interest, in the general joy, without betraying her own peculiar emotions.
In the evening, for the sake of appearances, she ventured to leave her room. She had just taken her place at the tea-table, when a hasty step was heard without.
The door flew open, and Edmund entered! Mrs. Montgomery threw over her footstool and little table, and dropped her spectacles, in hastening to meet him. She clasped him to her heart and wept! Frances, without one thought of reserve, flew into his arms, and clung round his neck, as she was wont to do when a child, exclaiming, “Dear, dear Edmund, you are safe!” And Julia trembled and turned pale, as, emboldened by the reception her sister had given him, yet colouring excessively, he approached and folded her also for one moment to his breast; for by an effort she had risen, and stood upright before her chair, though literally unable to move from it. She sunk on her seat again, but kindly smiled as she looked up through tears of joy, and Edmund still retaining her hand, she returned the pressure of his, more than once, as a sort of apology, each time, for her utter failure in an attempt to speak.
“And were you not even wounded, my dear boy?” said Mrs. Montgomery.
“Nothing more than slight contusions, ma’am,” he replied; “the ball struck one fluke of the anchor, and the shock which I experienced, as I stood on the other, was more like electricity than any thing else.”
“But tell me how you came to stand on the anchor?” asked Mrs. Montgomery, “I could not comprehend one half of what the papers said about it.”
“I thought the anchor was always in the bottom of the sea!” said Frances.
“Why,” replied Edmund, to Mrs. Montgomery, after answering Frances’ interruption with an amused smile, “the enemy had ceased firing, so that I thought it probable they were about to strike; and, in that case, you know, it would not have been desirable to have fired into them again, as we might have sacrificed lives unnecessarily, so that I merely ran forward to the forecastle, and jumped from thence on the fluke of the anchor, which was made fast to the bows, and where I stood waiting for the dispersion of the smoke of our own guns, to ascertain the point, of whether the last of the enemy had hauled down her colours or not.”
“Why, my dear, you are as bad as the papers!” said Mrs. Montgomery, “I hardly know what you are talking about!” Edmund laughed, and declared he did not know how to explain himself more clearly. He tried, however, practical methods; cups, saucers, snuffer-stand, sugar-tongs, &c., were all put in requisition. At length, by means of the latter implement, the ladies were made to comprehend, that when the ball struck one fluke of the anchor, the shock was communicated to our hero as he stood on the other.
Here he made his meaning still more obvious, by causing the bit of biscuit, which, perched on one end of the sugar-tongs, had hitherto personated himself, to spring off with a sudden jerk. It flew—where?—in Julia’s face! and thence fell on her bosom, where it concealed itself behind the neatly plaited cambrick tucker, of a certain snowy inner garment of fine linen, and became the companion of a small gold heart containing otto of rose, and appended to a thread-like gold chain, which, any one who cared to notice such trifles might observe, Julia never went without.
This chain, if truth must be told, was, in fact, one of Edmund’s boyish keepsakes; when, out of the first prize money he ever received, he brought one home to each of his little sisters. It would be a sad betraying of secrets, however, to mention how often, on subsequent returns, the course of that small shining line had been traced by the adventurous eyes of our hero, till its further wanderings were lost to view; or, how often, latterly, its trembling movement, had betrayed to his eye only, the sigh which was inaudible to all, and to all but Edmund imperceptible.
But to return, our hero made a thousand apologies for the first piece of impertinence committed by his representative. Whether its further intrusion had been observed by any one but Julia herself, we are not aware. But what will sensible people say, when we confess that our heroine actually preserved this strange likeness of a lover, and even took a sly opportunity of slipping it into the interior of the said golden heart.
“And you may judge,” continued Edmund, when, after concluding reiterated apologies, he resumed his account of himself, “you may judge what force there must have been in the impetus given by the shock I received, when it flung me in on the forecastle, to all appearance lifeless.”
“And how long did you remain insensible?” asked Mrs. Montgomery, taking his hand kindly, and looking in his face, with the greatest anxiety.
“I was myself again in a few minutes,” he replied, “it was the people on the forecastle, who, when they saw me actually lifted from among them, and borne through the air over their heads, very naturally supposed I had been shot away, the same mistake it seems was made by the crew of our Tender, which was at the time under orders to sail for the fleet, with intelligence of the capture of the enemy’s ships, as soon as the last should be seen to strike. But I really had not time to recollect the possibility of such an occurrence, there was so much promptitude and exertion necessary from the moment I was again on my feet, in getting the ship afloat during the flood tide.”
“You must have had a great superiority of numbers to contend with;” said Mrs. Montgomery, “the public prints describe your prizes as forming quite a little squadron in themselves, as you led them towards the fleet.”
“How much better those cakes are than our sea biscuits,” said Edmund, offering the plate to both the sisters. “It was rather a rash business!” he added, in a grave tone, turning again to Mrs. Montgomery. Then, with an effort at gaiety, he continued, “such as it was, however, I owe to it my present happiness; for had not my ship suffered so severely, as to render refitting indispensable, I should, at this moment, have been with the fleet off * * * *. Fitz-Ullin too was obliged to come into port to repair.” And Edmund here entered on the praises of his friend’s good and amiable qualities with great warmth.
He was soon, however, interrupted, by the entrance of Mr. Jackson, whom the joyful tidings of his arrival had summoned. Our hero had but one day to remain at Lodore.
“He hath sworn falsely.”
“How do you do? how do you do?” said Henry, as, the next evening but one, he entered the drawing room, at Lodore, and stretched two fingers to each of the party. “So you have had Edmund here, I find,” he continued.
“Only for one day, poor fellow,” replied Mrs. Montgomery.
“He told me he could stay but one day,” said Henry. “The Arandales are in town, and he wants to be as much as possible with them, while the ship is refitting. His hopes in that quarter are revived, he tells me,” he added, turning to the sisters, and looking, with malicious triumph, full in Julia’s face, till her cheeks tingled again, under his continued stare.
“You might have looked for a more affectionate salutation from your aunt, I think, Henry,” observed Mrs. Montgomery reproachfully, “after having been in a dangerous engagement.”
“I thought, ma’am,” he replied, accepting her offered embrace both coldly and awkwardly, “that no one cared what became of me!”
“Don’t talk idly, my dear,” said his aunt. “But how could you, Henry,” she added, “be so inconsiderate, as to write the alarming letter you did, while there was any uncertainty?”
“There was no uncertainty on my mind at the time I wrote, ma’am. I was, as I believe I mentioned, in the Tender alongside, waiting to carry intelligence to the fleet, as soon as the last of the enemy should be seen to strike. Edmund was standing in a very conspicuous situation, just over me, (out on one of the flukes of the anchor;) when, bang! and in one moment I saw the ball coming towards him, and the next his heels lifted above his head, and his legs and arms going round in the air, like the wings of a windmill! I thought, of course, he must be blown into a thousand atoms! What else could I think?” he added, observing Julia’s involuntary shudder, with a look of gratified malice. “And I supposed,” he continued, still addressing his aunt, “that you would rather hear it from a friend, than see the first of it in the papers. So I wrote on board the Tender, and, as soon as we joined the fleet, sent my letter by the first opportunity. I think I was very considerate! We had our order to sail, you see, the moment the enemy struck; so that I had no time to hear that he was not killed.”
“I am sure, the papers, or any thing,” said Frances, “would have been better than your letter, Henry; which was worded, I think, much in the same delicate manner that you expressed yourself just now. But you never lose an opportunity of giving pain, Henry. I dare say, if the truth was known, you took quite a pleasure in writing that cruel letter, and fancying how wretched it would make us all!—For Edmund is not like you; every body loves him, poor dear fellow!”
“Candid, at least!” observed Henry, with a sneer. “But I am always fortunate in possessing Lady Frances’s good opinion. Sailors, however, have no time to be nice,” he added. “When fellows die, or are killed, (which is the same thing, you know) we throw them overboard, and if the fighting’s done, pipe to dinner! Edmund will do as much for me, or I for him, one of those days; just as it may happen. Edmund, to be sure, is likely to kick the bucket as soon as any one, for he’s cursed rash!”
Frances saw, with kindling resentment, the pain that every word was inflicting on poor Julia.
“There is nothing of your strange jargon comprehensible,” she said, “but such expressions as are calculated to wound the feelings; those, as usual, are obvious enough.”
“If young ladies choose to volunteer their feelings for every fellow in His Majesty’s service,” retorted Henry, “they’ll have something to do now-a-days. There’s many a better man than Edmund, and that would be a greater loss to his friends too, that will feed the fishes yet before the war is over, I can tell you!” “It’s capital fun,” he added, glancing at Julia, “to see a villain of a shark, after he has followed the ship the length of a day, just make two bites of a fellow!”
“Strange notions of fun, you have, Henry,” said Mrs. Montgomery.
“How should you like it to happen to yourself, Henry?” asked Frances.
“Not at all, I thank you,” he replied. “But just fancy Edmund between the rascal’s teeth, snipping him in two at the small of the waist!”
“You should not speak in that manner, Henry,” said Mrs. Montgomery.
“Speaking don’t make it more likely to happen, ma’am,” he replied; “more unlikely things have happened, tho’! What do you say to a wager, Frances, eh? What will you bet, I say, that a hungry shark, don’t make a dinner of Edmund, the very next time he goes to sea?”
“Fie! fie! Henry,” interrupted Mrs. Montgomery; “this is a subject on which we have all felt seriously, too lately, to be disposed to jest upon it at present.”
“It’s not quite such a jest neither,” he answered, sulkily. “If the ball had hit him, instead of the fluke of the anchor, (as it might just as easily have done,) I maintain it, there would not have been two inches square of him left in any one piece! And what’s to prevent the next ball, I should be glad to know, from hitting him, or me, or any other fellow that goes in the way of it! People must prepare their fine feelings for such things,” he continued, looking after Julia as she was leaving the room. “He has been devilish lucky, I think, to get on as he has done, and make so much money too, without getting knocked on the head long ago! But his turn will come next, I dare say,” he added in great haste, lest Julia should reach the door before it was said.
“It cannot be at all necessary to your professional character, Henry, to be either unfeeling, or inelegant,” observed Mrs. Montgomery. “What can be more the opposite of both, than Edmund; and you will allow, I believe, that he is a good sailor.”
“Yes,” said Frances, “he is certainly an instance, that to be a brave officer it is not necessary to be a sea-monster! And I really do not perceive what right those have to be the latter, who cannot even offer in their apology that they are the former.” And she followed her sister with tears of vexation in her eyes.
“You should not, my dear,” said Mrs. Montgomery, as soon as the door closed after Frances, “address such expressions to your cousins, as that—‘young ladies need not volunteer their feelings to every fellow in His Majesty’s service!’ and such language, at any rate, can never be applicable in the present instance. It would indeed be very unnatural, and unamiable too, of them, if they did not feel when Edmund was in danger.”
“If you don’t mind what you’re about, ma’am, I suspect you’ll have some natural feelings to manage that you won’t much like!”
“What do you mean, Henry?”
“I mean, ma’am, that Frances, who you see makes no secret of her adoration of Edmund, will be running off with him one of those days!”
“Oh dear, no!” said Mrs. Montgomery: “Frances’ undisguised affection is evidently that of a sister. Besides, I have the most perfect confidence in Edmund’s honour.”
“Oh, very well, ma’am,” answered Henry, carelessly. “As for Julia,” he added, “of course, I don’t like to see her too prodigal of her feelings to any one.”
“Henry!” said Mrs. Montgomery, “I now tell you, once more, what I have already often told you: If you persist in this indelicate display of your very misplaced, and, you must be aware, hopeless attachment to your cousin, I shall consider it my duty (and it must be a painful one) to forbid you my house, till the return of her father places her under his protection.”
“I don’t see why my case should be so hopeless as you say: Julia will soon be her own mistress; and if she chooses to have me, I’d be a cursed fool not to secure such a good hit! Indeed, I tell you fairly, that as soon as she is of age, if she consents to run away with me, I shall have no scruples on the subject. She has enough for us both, and has every right to please herself!”
“I have questioned Julia, and she assures me that she neither authorises your addresses, nor returns your preference.”
“Till she is her own mistress, and can end disputes at once, she has no fancy, I dare say, for being lectured every day of her life by her wise friends! However, I say nothing; time will tell!”
Here the conference ended.
“Faults past through love, flavour of its sweetness.”
About a week after Edmund’s hasty visit to Lodore, the postman’s knock was heard, and no servant appearing with letters, inquiries were made. A footman replied, that Mr. St. Aubin had been passing through the hall, and had taken the letters from the man. Henry was applied to; but disappointed the hopes of all by saying, there was but one, which was for himself. “It’s from Edmund,” he added carelessly.
“And what does he say?” inquired every one, at the same moment. “An order to join, I suppose?” added Frances.
“No,” he replied.
“You are very laconic, Henry!” observed Mrs. Montgomery.
“Why, really, ma’am—I—don’t know that it is quite fair to talk of young men’s love concerns. However, my amiable cousins, I believe, know all about it; whether they have thought fit to inform you, ma’am, or not. Indeed, you saw something of it yourself. It was a foolish affair from the first: I never thought it would answer.”
“What was a foolish affair?” asked Frances.
“Oh all that fudge about your nonsuch fancying that Lady Susan Morven was to accept him, forsooth, because some people have blown him up with conceit and impertinence, by choosing to make fools of themselves about him. But it seems she is married to the Marquis of H⸺, and Edmund, of course, is in great despair about it—that’s all!”
“I cannot believe that he ever loved Lady Susan!” said Frances.
“I have only his own word, and his own hand-writing for it,” replied Henry.
“Will you shew me the letter?” asked Frances.
“Why, do you doubt what I assert?” said Henry, angrily, and at the same time putting his hand in his pocket, to feign an intention of shewing a letter he had never received. There was one in his pocket, however, which he would have been very sorry to have shewn.
“I like the evidence of my own senses best,” replied Frances, holding out her hand.
“On second thoughts,” said Henry, “I shall not shew the letter. Indeed, I don’t think it would be honourable in me to do so. By the bye,” he added, “I took a couple of papers from the man at the same time. I forgot them, I believe, on the writing-table in the library. The marriage will be in the ‘Morning-Post,’ of course.”
“My dear, what could you have been doing to forget the papers? I thought the servants were airing them,” said Mrs. Montgomery.
Frances flew for them. Julia was, or seemed to be, very busily engaged about something at her portfolio; and took wonderfully little interest in the discussion, considering the regard (in the way of friendship, we mean) which she had always professed to entertain for Edmund. Frances returned with the papers. The marriage of Lady Susan Morven to the Marquis of H. certainly did appear printed in legible characters. Frances herself read it aloud. Various comments were made. Mrs. Montgomery expressed herself certain that Lord L. would be much dissatisfied with Julia for having refused so splendid a match.
“I never said I refused him, ma’am,” faltered out Julia, in a timid voice.
“He told your uncle you did, my dear,” said Mrs. Montgomery.
“Did I not tell you, ma’am, that my fair cousin here would choose for herself?” observed Henry with emphasis: and going towards Julia, he leaned on the back of her chair with well-feigned tenderness of manner.
Mrs. Montgomery looked with a surprised and inquiring expression at her granddaughter, who coloured to excess; for she thought of Edmund, and was also painfully aware of the false light in which Henry wished her to appear. The blush of consciousness was deepened by indignation, not the less strong that it was suppressed. She could not now say, as she had done when a child, “No, I hate Henry, and I love Edmund!” He knew she could not, and she knew that on this knowledge he presumed. A look, indeed, of resentment, she attempted. Mrs. Montgomery saw it, thought it one of intelligence, and felt alarmed.
Frances, who had turned over the paper two or three times, now exclaimed, “Oh, here is something about Edmund’s friend, Lord Fitz-Ullin; and she began to read aloud as follows:—
“It is with heartfelt grief, we perform the melancholy task of stating, that the young Earl of Fitz-Ullin, whose late gallant conduct gave so bright a promise of his following in the glorious track of his father, has disappointed every hope, blighted his budding laurels, and ended his short career, by that crime of which alone the perpetrator can never repent: we mean, an act of suicide. The cause is said to be a love affair, of at least doubtful character; the rank of the lady being much beneath that of his Lordship. The female in question is, in fact, we understand, the daughter of his Lordship’s nurse; but very beautiful, and, unfortunately, brought up at a fashionable boarding school, with accomplishments and ideas quite out of her sphere. We understand, further, that his Lordship became acquainted with his fair enslaver at first as one of the young ladies of a certain fashionable establishment, without being aware of her birth, or even her name, till after many rural, and, we believe, clandestine meetings had taken place; and that the attachment existed even in the life-time of his Lordship’s father; but was then, of course, kept a profound secret. The rival, whose later success with the frail fair one has caused the dreadful catastrophe above related, is no other than his Lordship’s particular friend, the——” Here Frances suddenly stopped short, and exclaimed, “Nonsense!—Impossible!”
“Go on! go on!” cried Henry, (he had read it before.)
“What nonsense!” said Frances again pettishly, as she continued looking over the paragraph to herself.
Henry snatched the paper, and after a moment’s search, went back upon and finished the sentence in a loud and exulting tone, thus: “is no other than his Lordship’s particular friend, the gallant Captain Montgomery.”—“Well, faith,” he said, “it was too bad of Edmund to carry on an amour of this kind at the very time when, I know, he had hopes (however ill-founded) of being accepted, by Lady Susan.”
“It must be all false together,” said Frances.
“You are Edmund’s sponsor, it seems,” observed Henry. “You would not allow that he loved Lady Susan, so perhaps it is this other lady, or rather woman, he loves; and that he only wished to marry Lady Susan’s fifty thousand. Or, perhaps, your ladyship knows best, or possibly has the best right to know, among so many aspirants for the heart of this gallant adventurer, which is the favoured fair one!”
“No! no!” said Mrs. Montgomery, replying to the part of Henry’s speech which inferred that our hero designed to carry on an amour of inclination with one woman, and marry the fortune of another. “That Edmund may have a virtuous attachment to one or other lady, is very possible; indeed, I always thought, and so, I believe, you all did, that he liked Lady Susan. Or that he may have rivalled his friend, unintentionally, or been mistaken in the character of the lady, is also not impossible: but, that he has behaved dishonourably or unamiably, I will not, on any authority, believe! Therefore, my dear, if you know that he did hope, so lately, to be accepted by Lady Susan, there can be no sort of truth in the other affair: it must be mere newspaper conjecture.”
Mr. Jackson had hitherto sat apart, affecting to read to himself the other paper; to evince, by this seeming inattention to the conversation, his contempt of the accusations brought against Edmund. He now arose, and indignantly strode towards the fire-place. He stood with his back to it, and, in visible emotion, pronounced the words, “Contemptible falsehoods!—No;” he proceeded, after a tolerably long pause, during which he compressed his lips, and planted his heels firmly in the rug, “Licentious excitements (he would not condescend to a perverted world, by miscalling such, pleasures) have no temptations for a mind constituted like Edmund’s! His affections are of the heart: they borrow not a deceptive glow, either from the passions, or from the temper; as do those,” he added, “of but too many hot-headed, cold-hearted, selfish rakes, who pass on a thoughtless world for good-natured fellows.”
“I know nothing about any body’s good-nature,” said Henry; “nor am I editor of the ‘Morning Post,’ to be accountable for whose amours may figure in its columns for the amusement of the public. All I assert of my own knowledge is, that Edmund either was, or thought fit to say he was, in love with Lady Susan Morven; that he was coxcomb enough to fancy he would be accepted; and is fool enough to be in despair about her Ladyship’s marrying a man of rank, suitable to her own.”
“Your statement, young gentleman,” said Mr. Jackson, “contains, to speak mildly, many egregious errors! Edmund is neither fool nor coxcomb! Neither was your observation, just now, more applicable: A brave officer, in the regular service of his own king and country, is no _adventurer_!”
Julia was endeavouring to leave the room unobserved. Henry, with an unusually officious zeal of politeness, flew to assist her in opening the door. While doing so, he contrived in spite of all her efforts to the contrary, to look full in her face, with a hatefully offensive expression of perfect intelligence. His unshrinking eye stood still, till it cost Julia an effort to break the spell, and withdraw her’s. He knew what she must have felt during the late discussion; and she felt that he did so. He had often, in private, insolently taxed her with her preference of Edmund; and, so taxed, though of course she had made no confessions, she had been too proud to descend to falsehood, and deny the fact: and thus she felt that the secret of her heart’s affections, which timid delicacy induced her to conceal from those she loved and respected, was laid bare to the view of him, with whom, of all the world, she had least sympathy!
Her sickening sensation, consequently, while now she endured his gaze, somewhat resembled what we can imagine might be experienced by a modest woman beneath the exulting eye of a libertine, were it possible for that eye, by its audacious stare, to dissolve the personal screen of decent clothing.
Julia was again present when the papers of the next day were read. They said, that they were very happy to state, that Lord Fitz-Ullin was only wounded, and that hopes were entertained of his Lordship’s recovery. That, strange to relate, his rival was now in close attendance on the couch of his injured friend: and that, still more strange, the fickle fair one herself assisted her new lover in the task of nursing her old one.
The next paper undertook to gratify the public with curious particulars respecting a late interesting occurrence in high life. A certain young nobleman, it was now confidently affirmed, had, in the first instance, actually laid his title and fortune at the feet of a certain fickle fair one; who had, notwithstanding, perversely preferred a certain gallant captain, who, it is thought, though he had no objection to receive very unequivocal proofs of the lady’s love, had no idea of marrying her; and that the _eclaircissement_ had taken place at the altar.
Another paper asserted, that an old woman, calling herself the mother of the lady, had rushed into the church, wrested the sacred volume from the hands of the clergyman, and in the most frantic manner, put a stop to the ceremony. And further, that the said old woman had proceeded to make such confessions to the intended bridegroom respecting, it is supposed, the lady’s late connexion with the gallant Captain, as had effectually prevented the marriage. That the Earl had, in the handsomest manner, sent for his rival, and resigned the lady to him; after which, in a paroxysm of despairing love, he had gone home to his splendid residence in ⸺ Square, and shot himself.
“Oh! whence is the stream of years, and whither Doth it roll along, when it carries with it All our joys?”
A few days more brought a letter from Edmund, addressed to Mrs. Montgomery; now it was hoped all would be explained; Mrs. Montgomery broke the seal, laid the letter open on her knee, took out her spectacles, wiped them, and put them on. But soon tears dimmed the glasses, and the old lady’s head shook a little, as on occasions of deep emotion. “What can he mean?” she said, as she gave the letter to Julia, desiring her to read it aloud. Julia, on receiving it, turned extremely pale. As soon as her eyes ran over the first few lines, she trembled visibly, and cast a beseeching look at her sister.
Frances took the letter from her, saying, that she could read Edmund’s hand particularly well. She began, like the rest, by looking over the letter to herself. Soon tears were seen stealing over her cheeks, as she read on, while from time to time she exclaimed, “What can he mean? What can have happened?”
“Read aloud, my dear! Do pray read aloud!” said Mrs. Montgomery. And Frances, endeavouring to keep down the choking sensation that arose in her throat, commenced as follows:—
“I must, for a time at least, bid farewell to all; yes, even to her, who sheltered my infant head; who protected my infant years; who was my friend when I was friendless; who gave me bread when I was destitute. But I cannot—no—I cannot see Lodore again! Lodore, that home of happy childhood!
“At such a crisis of my fate, there is much I ought to say to one so dear—one so generously interested in the wretched Edmund; but, at present, I am incapable of a rational recital.
“At a future time, perhaps—but I wander—you have doubtless seen all, ere this, in the public prints. Yet, surely they were not the proper medium—Pardon me; I know not what I write—the blow has indeed been severe!
“Perhaps I deserve it all; to have hoped was madness! treachery! Yet, I did hope! Yes—or why my present despair? Yet was it a hope so mingled with fear and with remorse, that it was torture! Yet it was hope!—Heavens! must I believe it? Was it all a dream! a delirium! Was there nothing real? Or is friendship, then, so like love? No! within my own breast, how wide the wild distinction!
“Why then was I deceived? Oh, farewell! I go, I know not where.—But I leave England—perhaps, for ever! Yet, think me not ungrateful! Think not, that the fondest affections of my blighted heart, withered and worthless though they be, shall not for ever cling to the remembrance of the dear, dear friends, the ever to be beloved, respected, and revered benefactress of my infant years. Your unhappy Edmund.”
The letter bore no further signature; as was habitual with our hero, from a painful consciousness that his second name was but borrowed.
The exclamations and interruptions had, of course, been many. The subject was now discussed by Mrs. Montgomery and Frances. Also by Mr. Jackson; for he generally came in soon after the post hour. Julia did not venture a word. Lady Susan’s marriage was agreed upon by all as, of course, the principal cause of Edmund’s “ridiculously violent despair,” as Frances pettishly called it.
Mr. Jackson, with evident mortification, was obliged to confess that he had certainly expected more sense from Edmund. He hoped, however, he added, that feelings of such boyish violence would exhaust themselves in a proportionately short time, and leave his young friend a more reasonable man for the rest of his life. There might, however, Mr. Jackson suggested, be some unpleasant circumstances respecting this business which had made so much noise in the papers, in which Edmund, even without fault of his own, might find himself involved. His feelings, his name, might be painfully implicated. There might be particulars, which delicacy towards his friend rendered it difficult to explain to the public. He thought it impossible that Edmund could talk of leaving England for ever, merely on account of his disappointment about Lady Susan; that would be too irrational: though from his despairing expressions on the subject of love, it was evidently the one on which he felt most bitterly just at present.
The result of the conversation was, a determination on the part of Mr. Jackson, to go up to town immediately. His assistance, or at least his advice, might be useful to his young friend.
“And give me my desk,” said Mrs. Montgomery, “I will write to him. He shall come to me, foolish boy, before he takes any rash step.”
Henry had left Lodore some days since, or he would doubtless have favoured the family party with some good natured observations. He had, however, to confirm opinions of still more consequence to his plans, in another quarter—a quarter, which he had lately, by no very honourable means, discovered to have become more dangerous than ever. Had he been present, he could have resolved every mystery, and shewn all to be simple that seemed extraordinary: not that he would have done so.
Julia and Frances had been just going to take a walk, when the letter was brought in; they now pursued their original intention, with an additional motive; the wish to converse together uninterruptedly. As they went out, Frances pressed her sister’s hand without speaking.
They happened to turn their steps towards the fall of Lodore. The spot is curiously sequestered, and the space on which the water precipitates itself, from an immense perpendicular height, does not appear larger, than the dimensions of a small room. The steep and rugged rock rises on three sides till roofed by the sky; the central side of the hollow square, is that over which, broken at various elevations by black projections of flinty stone, the torrent rushes; from both the other sides, mountain ash and various sort of trees, rooted in every crevice, stretch their branches across, between the eye of the spectator, and the white sheet of descending foam. The fourth side, or ground facing the fall, is a steep sloping bank, thickly covered with large trees, beneath the shade of which, a narrow path leads down to the edge of the water. Here a seat is placed, on which two persons may find accommodation; and if disposed to tell each other very profound secrets, feel quite secure from the danger of being overheard; for the fall, which is exactly opposite, plunges at their very feet, with a din so tremendous, that the most attentive listener, standing at but a few yards distance, though he should see their lips in motion, could distinguish no sound of their voices, and would be tempted to fancy, they conversed but in dumb show.
Julia and Frances descended this path, and took possession of this seat. Julia instantly turned, and throwing her arms round her sister’s neck, murmured in a slow whisper, “Oh! Frances, why did you say it was me he loved?”
It is a curious fact, that, in this situation, persons quite close to each other, can hear whispers more distinctly than they could the voice in its natural key. It would seem that the open tones were more prone to assimilate with the loud sounds abroad, and so become confounded with them.
“I thought so, Julia,” answered Frances, who also whispered, “and I should think so still, even by the very wording of that letter; but that I know, you have not said or done any thing of late, to change, so suddenly, any hopes he may ever have ventured to entertain, into all this mighty despair! Yet, who else has shown him a friendship that could be mistaken for love? as he seems to infer. With whom else has he had time or opportunity to indulge in this ‘dream, this delirium of unreal bliss;’ of which he talks so wildly?”
Julia thought of her late parting with Edmund, and paused a few seconds: then sighed, and said,
“No! no! there has nothing passed of late to change whatever may have been the usual tenor of his feelings towards me. It must be Lady Susan he means. The expressions you speak of, Frances, must allude to the time spent in her society, both here, and at Arandale. You know, whatever intimacy there was, commenced the very first evening he danced with her; and very soon afterwards, you know, she herself told you, that he wanted her to marry him; and that she intended to do so, if Lord and Lady Arandale would give their consent. Now, it is evident, that they have not consented, and that it is Lady Susan’s having married the Marquis after all, that Edmund thinks such a dreadful disappointment, such a blow, as he calls it.”
“It must be so,” said her sister.
“Yet, Frances,” recommenced Julia, “I had, some how, lost sight of the possibility of his preferring one, still, as I thought, a comparative stranger. I had contrived to persuade myself, that the whole business about Lady Susan, was either some mistake, as you once suggested, or a momentary fancy; perhaps, a feeling of gratitude for her preference; and I had dwelt with delight on the praises bestowed on him by all the world, and Mr. Jackson in particular, who is so sensible. I had thought, that I too might highly esteem—might—might—regard—with even—a great share of—affection, one, whom every one seemed to admire, and whom, I knew, that you and grandmamma loved so much. And, oh, Frances! when, in the midst of the congratulations of his friends, and the high compliments paid him by every one, I have seen an expression of melancholy mix itself with his smile; and then thought, (I don’t know why, but I did think so,) that it was in my power to make him quite happy—with what feelings have I said—he shall be happy! Frances, in such moments, I have resolved to—to—be his, (that is, some time or other. And now—I, who did so resolve, am as nothing in his eyes! My friendship for that at least he knew he possessed,) is cast away, because the love of a stranger is denied. Nay, my very existence seems to be forgotten! He is going away, he says, perhaps, for ever, and he makes not the slightest mention of being sorry to part, either from you, or me.”
And she stopped, vainly attempting to check the tremor of her lip, while tears, that it was useless to try to hide, were rolling silently down her cheeks. After a long pause, she added:—
“Were he happy, Frances, I might strive to forget a folly, which has existed, it would appear, only in my own thoughts; but while he is miserable, as he says he is, I know I shall never be able to feel towards him, as now I see I ought.”
This was not a spot, where warning footsteps could be heard; and Lord L. stood before his daughters, ere they were aware of his approach. He took his children in his arms. They had not beheld him since their infancy, but nature found means to make herself understood without words, ere Mrs. Montgomery, who had accompanied him, had time to say, “Girls, your father.”
In the course of the evening, the newspaper account of young Fitz-Ullin having shot himself, became the topic of conversation. Lord L. treated the subject with gravity, and some degree of reserve. He said, however, that he feared there must be some foundation for a report, which was spoken of so universally, and with so much confidence. “Fitz-Ullin’s father,” he added, “they were all aware, had been his most particular friend; he very naturally, therefore, felt interested.”
When Mrs. Montgomery had left the room for the night, which she generally did a little before the rest of the party; Lord L. said to his daughters, “I do not wish to alarm your grandmother, unnecessarily, by mentioning the circumstance before her, as it may not be true; but,” and he lowered his voice, “it is now reported, in town, that it was not Fitz-Ullin, but our young friend, Montgomery, who shot himself.”
Frances, fearing for Julia’s presence of mind, interposed quickly, exclaiming, “Impossible! The account of Lord Fitz-Ullin having shot himself, has been in the papers this fortnight, and grandmamma has this very day had a letter from Edmund.”
“I am really glad to hear it,” said Lord L., standing up as he spoke. “Montgomery bears a very high character; and your grandmother has, I know, a strong affection for him; for reasons,” he added, with a suppressed sigh, “which ought to weigh, at least, as much with me.” After a short pause, he continued, “It is impossible to place any dependance on reports. On this very subject there are half a dozen differing in every essential point. One is, as you have heard, that Fitz-Ullin had shot himself; another says, that he was shot by his friend; and another, that he had shot his friend; while there is yet a fourth version, as I have just told you, purporting that Montgomery had shot himself. They all agree in one thing only, that a lady has been the cause of whatever mischief has taken place. I was but one day in town myself; but being very anxious about both young men, in consequence of all those reports, I called at Fitz-Ullin’s house. On demanding of the servants if Lord Fitz-Ullin was at home, and, (with an air of doubt, I believe,) how he was, they answered, as much to my surprise as relief, that he was quite well; but added, that his Lordship could not see any one at present. I did not, therefore, send up my name; for, satisfied that he was well, it was quite time enough for me to see him on my return to town. I enquired of the servants, however, if they could give me any information respecting Captain Montgomery; (for I had not even his address, you know.) They looked at each other, rather strangely, I thought; and an elderly man, after some little hesitation, came forward and replied, that he had not yet received orders from his Lordship, to speak on this subject. This sounded rather strange; and, at first, made me stare at the fellow: but it immediately occurred to me, that the young men had been engaged in some foolish affair, which it was the wish of both parties, to hush up as much as possible. I therefore, as you may suppose, asked no further questions of servants.”
This was the sum of Lord L.’s information; and after many comments on the incomprehensibility of the whole affair, the family party separated for the night.
“Brightly shines the vest o’er his widow’d heart, The manly brow, by early sorrow touch’d, Is bare. The jewelled cap and graceful plume, In his worser hand, his martial’s baton In the right, he passed mid a people’s Sympathy!”
At breakfast, Lord L. requested that his daughters would be ready to accompany him to town, on an early day which he named.
He was evidently ill at ease at Lodore: he made every effort, however, to conceal such feelings, and assigned the following commonplace reason, for the hasty departure he meditated. He had, he said, already issued cards, for what he intended should be a very brilliant affair; given for the purpose of introducing his daughters at home, to what he considered his own private circle, previous to their public presentation at court.
Ere Lord L. and his daughters departed, Mrs. Montgomery discharged the painful duty she had imposed upon herself, of informing Lord L. of every particular of Henry’s very improper conduct, respecting his attachment to his cousin. Lord L. was, at first, distressed and alarmed; but, on questioning his daughter, was so perfectly satisfied by her assurances of indifference to Henry himself, and repugnance to his addresses, that he determined to treat the young man’s presumption, with the contempt it merited. Should St. Aubin, however, in future, persevere in making himself troublesome; his Lordship would, of course, forbid him his house.
A passing visit to Beech-park, prolonged by the delight the girls took in exploring its groves, so far retarded our travellers, that they did not arrive in London, till the very day, on the evening of which the projected ball was to take place.
The preparations, however, had gone on in pursuance of former orders, and every thing was found ready.
Lord L., the moment he had welcomed his daughters beneath the paternal roof, went out to call on the son of his old friend, and endeavour to induce him to join the family party at dinner, preparatory to the gaieties of the evening.
No card had been sent; for, on account of all the strange reports that were current, Lord L. had determined to make the invitation in person, should he find Fitz-Ullin in a state to accept it.
… “Truth, Shines on his face, like the plane of the sun! No darkness travels o’er his brow.”
“Dignity and grace shine forth majestic: Great nature’s ornaments!”
“I have seen Fitz-Ullin,” said Lord L., as he took his seat at the dinner table, where, for this day, sat his daughters only, “and I like him amazingly!” When the servants had retired, he renewed the subject, by saying, “Fitz-Ullin is just what I should have expected from the son of my old friend.”
Julia listened in breathless expectation, hoping to hear something of Edmund. Frances understood her thoughts, and watched for an opportunity of putting a judicious question.
“On sending up my name,” continued Lord L., “I was instantly admitted. He received me with visible emotion, and said, that had he known of my being in town, he should have waited on me. I told him, of course, that I had but that moment arrived from Cumberland. He is extremely handsome! very like his mother.”
“Did you ask if he knew any thing about Edmund?” enquired Frances. Julia pressed her sister’s hand, under shelter of the table.
“Certainly,” replied Lord L., “indeed, as soon as I had spoken to him of his father, and made some few preliminary remarks, I opened the subject, by inquiring if he could oblige me with Captain Montgomery’s address. He looked somewhat confused, and said, ‘Lord L., I am very desirous to have an opportunity of explaining to you the business to which you allude.’ ‘I have no right to make allusions, my Lord,’ I replied; ‘but’—and I hesitated, ‘newspaper reports are not very satisfactory sources of information; and, it is natural that I should be anxious respecting my young friend. Indeed, at present, I do not know even where to find him.’ ‘You have every right, Lord L.,’ he said, ‘to make inquiries, and to have them answered; you are, not only, the friend of my father, but you and your family have been, the kind, the generous friends, of poor Montgomery, when he most wanted friends; to you every thing shall be explained. At present I am not quite equal to the task; but permit me to call on you to-morrow morning.’ I begged he would dine with me to-day. He however declined, pleading an engagement which rendered that impossible; but saying, ‘that he should be able to get away about ten, (this evening I mean,) when, if I would permit him, he would wait on me, and bring Montgomery with him.’ As he said this he smiled, though certainly with no very gay expression; yet, his smiling at all, was quite sufficient to show that there were no mortal wounds, in short, nothing very fatal, or irremediable, in the business.
“It just occurred to me, that I would let them come, without saying any thing of the ball. The surprise was a liberty, which I thought I might take with the son of an old friend. Let me see,” added Lord L., considering, “it is now some eight or ten months since his father’s death: yet I feared, from the evident depression on his spirits, that he might not be prevailed on to join us, were he aware of the gay scene which awaited him, before he was actually at the door; after which, I should think, he would scarcely turn away.
“It was very plain, that he wished, as much as possible, to avoid all mention of Montgomery; and I did not urge my inquiries, as he means to bring him with him this evening, declaredly for the purpose of some explanation. Indeed, it is clear to me, as I have all along said, that the young men have had some silly quarrel, in which, I can now perceive, Fitz-Ullin believes himself to have been the aggressor. There was a consciousness, a hesitation in his manner: I fancy he means to be vastly heroic this evening, confess himself in fault, and make Montgomery an apology in my presence. But, as I before remarked, there can be nothing very terrible in the affair; for when I asked him how Montgomery was, he answered, ‘Quite well, thank you;’ and smiled again, though languidly. ‘He was not wounded then,’ I ventured to add. ‘Oh, no!’ he replied with quickness. ‘Nor your Lordship, I hope?’ I continued. ‘Why—no,’—he said, after a moment of hesitation. ‘And when you know all,’ he added, ‘you will not suspect me of wishing to injure your friend Montgomery.’
“I saw I was distressing him, so I took my departure, declaring that I entertained no such suspicions.
“Well,” added Lord L., after a momentary pause and a smile, “I trust, from the sadness of the love-stricken youth, that Montgomery has been successful with the fair source of their rivalship; for I have other views for Fitz-Ullin.
“By the bye, I saw three ladies there as I passed a drawing-room, the door of which was half open. Two of them seemed to be in widows’ mourning; and the third, who appeared much younger, wore something black too, I think: but she was so beautiful, that during my momentary glance, I had no leisure to examine her dress. She was standing near the door, and seemed earnestly questioning a person who looked something like a physician. I heard him say, as he was making his exit, ‘You may rest quite satisfied; every dangerous symptom has now disappeared.’ This was as I went in, and before I had seen Fitz-Ullin; so that I expected, of course, to find him in an easy chair and wrapping gown, just recovering from a dangerous wound.”
Then it is Edmund, thought Julia, who is only recovering; and who, perhaps, may not recover after all!
“If that charming creature,” continued Lord L., “was Fitz-Ullin’s fair inamorata, and that he has been rivalled in her good graces, I am not much surprised at his despairing looks: and, certainly, he has not the elastic step, or triumphant eye, of a successful lover. We must contrive to console him, poor fellow.
“In the first place, Julia, I intend that he shall, should he arrive in time, open the ball with you to-night; after which, should he, on longer acquaintance, prove what the son of my immortal friend ought to be, I shall have no objection to his securing your hand for a longer period. Do not look so seriously alarmed, child! I certainly shall not offer it to him. The hand of Lady Julia L. is a prize which may, I think, be sought even by the sole representative of all the honours, hereditary and acquired, of the great Fitz-Ullin! Talking of such things, what did you do to the Marquis of H., to cure him so quickly, and so effectually?”
“Nothing,” replied Julia.
“Yes, you refused him; and that without consulting me.”
“Had I had the least wish to accept him, sir, I should have consulted you,” said Julia, “but—I did not know—that it was of any consequence—if—”
“Well, take care you don’t refuse Fitz-Ullin without consulting me,” said her father. “I have taken quite a fancy to the young man. There is sweetness of disposition, and nobleness of nature, in every expression of his countenance. And, as the son of his father, I should prefer him to the Marquis, brilliant as that connexion would certainly have been. You too, Frances,” he said, turning to her, and putting aside some of the redundant curls that floated on her snowy forehead, “have, I understand, been casting loose the chains of your captives also, without consulting me. We must have a reform in this department of administration; I consider myself entitled to some (perhaps my daughters may think) obsolete privileges in the way of patronage, which, however, I do not mean entirely to waive.—There now, fly and dress yourselves, or you will be late.”
Both the girls having risen from their seats at the word “fly,” hesitated, and approached their father, as if they had wished to say, that they were not quite so undutiful as he imagined. Lord L. seemed to comprehend the manner; for he put an arm round each, and kissed the forehead of each.
“And wheels were rolling, and lights were passing, And cheeks, that should have been on soft pillows Lying, were reflected in deep mirrors; Where locks were braiding, and gems arranging, And plumes were waving, for the coming day.”
By the time the sisters had completed the task of adorning, the whole house was one blaze of light and decoration.
They walked through the yet vacant apartments, almost lost in the universal brightness. They were soon joined by Lord L. On arrivals commencing, he gave to each an arm, and stood with them near the entrance of the first of the suit of rooms destined for the reception of company.
Crowds poured in. Lord L. felt not a little of the most amiable, and most pardonable species of pride, as each fresh party that approached evinced, either by words or expression of countenance, as the degrees of intimacy permitted, their extravagant admiration of his daughters.
The thunder of knocks, peal on peal, still echoed and re-echoed. Julia and Frances were more accustomed to that which reverberated from Skiddaw to the Screes: for though they had, as we have seen, entered some very gay circles in the country, they had not experienced any thing on this great scale before: besides, they were conscious, that they were now the especial objects of notice; and at each loud sound, they shrunk closer to their father. He felt the involuntary movement; and, in a whisper, warned them not to be foolish.
Meanwhile, the first and second reception rooms had filled to overflowing; and many of the company were finding their own way into other of the apartments. A number of people had already, for coolness, entered the ball-room; and thither we shall, for the present, accompany them.
After walking up and down for a time, some began to express impatience for the commencement of dancing; and others, to conjecture with whom Lady Julia L. would open the ball. This led to observations upon, praises by some, and criticism by others, of their youthful hostesses; for who, that is worthy of praise, can escape criticism? so true is it, that a young woman cannot, with perfect impunity, be remarkable even for her merits. No one could deny that they were beautiful; a motion to that effect was therefore carried, by a clamorous and unanimous vote, on the part of the gentlemen. A crowd pressing towards the dancing room, caused all eyes to turn in the direction whence it approached.
“Who is that leading Lady Julia L. towards the head of the room?” exclaimed one voice. “Who is Lady Julia L. going to dance with?” cried another. “Who is that Lady Julia L. is leaning on?” said a third. “Who is it? Who is it? Who is he? Who is he?” was repeated by many. “He is very handsome!” said the ladies. “Do you know him?” inquired the gentlemen. These questions were telegraphed from the outskirts of the standing group into the centre of the moving crowd, and the answer, by numerous voices, telegraphed back: “Lord Fitz-Ullin!” “Lord Fitz-Ullin!” “Lord Fitz-Ullin!”
“Did not the papers say that Fitz-Ullin had shot himself?” inquired a gentleman.
“Yes, but it was contradicted again,” observed his neighbour.
“They say it was his friend, the Captain Montgomery, one hears so much of, who shot himself,” observed a third.
“For love, was it not?” asked a young lady.
“Oh yes, of course,” drawled out her destined partner, dropping a sleepy glance out of the corner of his eye, without turning his head; for he was an exquisite; “You ladies are the cause of every mischief, you know. You drive us poor men to distraction, and then blame us for the rash actions which your own charms have caused us to commit.”
“It was not the lady’s fault!” said his partner; “she could not marry them both, you know.”
“And so she made the best division she could, you think, in accepting the one as a lover, and the other as a husband?” retorted the gentleman.
“Nonsense!” said the young lady: “but as the papers said that Captain Montgomery was the favoured lover, why should he shoot himself?”
“Cannot say, really. The quadrilles are forming; we had better take our place.”
“Lady Julia L. is vastly lovely! Is she not?” he proceeded, after they had secured their ground. The lady was wondering how Captain Montgomery, or any body else, could have been preferred to Lord Fitz-Ullin, he was so handsome; and only answered, “Yes, very pretty indeed: and what a beautiful dress she has on!”
Several sets of quadrilles were now arranged, and were on the point of commencing.
“What a very handsome young man Lord Fitz-Ullin is!” said another young lady, to an ugly, stiff, old partner; who had once, of course, been young, and, by accident, the fashion; but who, by thinking himself a prize too long, had lost both those advantages.
“Possibly,” he replied; “but I was looking at the lady. Lady Julia L. is really almost beautiful enough to tempt a man to sacrifice his liberty!”
“Can that be Lord Fitz-Ullin?” said Lady D. to a certain gay Colonel, who, emerging from the part of the crowd which had lately entered the room, approached her ladyship.
The Colonel was, or thought himself, handsome; and we hope, for his own sake, he was not mistaken; as, excepting his personal attractions, he had nothing but his half-pay; not even professional prospects, having taken the difference from whole to half-pay for the discharge of debts. His aspirations were now, therefore, limited to that last resource of the desperate—matrimony! Lady D. was a showy, rich, and not very old widow; a dasher, and a professed admirer of handsome men: on which last trait in her ladyship’s character the Colonel founded very brilliant hopes.
“I have seen Lord Ormond in his father’s life-time,” pursued Lady D.; “but I had no recollection of his being half so handsome! Is that really Lord Fitz-Ullin?”
“If your ladyship means the gentleman who is standing at the head of the first quadrille with Lady Julia L.,” replied the Colonel, “he is, undoubtedly, Lord Fitz-Ullin.”
“He is a thousand times handsomer,” said the lady, looking again, “a thousand times handsomer than I thought Lord Ormond at the time, though now I do remember thinking him a pleasing looking young man. What a difference three or four years have made (it was six or seven, but the lady did not choose to say so); he has now so much more character of countenance, and so fine a figure!”
The Colonel, not a little mortified, answered, “The fellow looks as if he were going to be hanged! and that, with such an angel for a partner, is quite unpardonable.”
“As the lady’s whole attention seems occupied by the chalking of the floor,” said Lady D., “it is no wonder she cannot animate her partner.”
“If I am any judge of physiognomy,” said the Colonel, “his Lordship’s want of animation does not proceed from want of admiration: and, as to the lady, if she does not look up and smile, she looks down and blushes; and that is quite as encouraging, you know.”
“She is certainly too demurely-looking,” persisted Lady D.
“Her adorer probably prefers,” argued the Colonel, assuming what he intended for a very graceful attitude, “possessing this monopoly of his fair enslaver’s attention, to the danger of her Ladyship’s admiring other Adonises, as might possibly be the case, were she to dispense her glances more freely.”
“Oh,” replied Lady D., with quickness, “in the case of the partner of Lord Fitz-Ullin, there can be no danger of that!”
The Colonel fell back, bit his lip, and said to a gentleman near him, in a loud and conceited tone, drawing up his eyebrows, and looking down at his own legs, “Lady D. thinks, that where Lord Fitz-Ullin appears, no one else has a chance of being looked at!—eh?”
“It is fortunate,” replied the gentleman addressed, who was also an acquaintance of her Ladyship’s, “that all ladies are not of Lady D.’s opinion. In a late very public affair his Lordship was, ’tis said, successfully rivalled by a Captain Montgomery, with whose name the papers have resounded for some time.”
“By the bye,” asked Lady D., “was it not said that Captain Montgomery, or Lord Fitz-Ullin, or somebody, had shot themselves, or something?”
A gentleman, on whose breast appeared the stars and garters of renown, now coming up, said dryly (for he too seemed of Lady D.’s coterie), “Your Ladyship is speaking of Captain Montgomery? His wounds, you perceive, have not been mortal.”
The lady looked her want of comprehension.
“Why,” continued the man of stars, “he is now standing at the head of the first quadrille with Lady Julia L. Don’t look for a moment, or they will see that we are speaking of them.”
“I beg your pardon, sir,” interrupted the Colonel, “that is Lord Fitz-Ullin!—if you mean the gentleman who is dancing with Lady Julia L.”
“Are you personally acquainted with Lord Fitz-Ullin?” asked the Admiral, for such was the rank of the starred speaker.
“No, sir, but I saw him enter the room, and heard him announced as Lord Fitz-Ullin.”
“Then, sir, give me leave to say, that Captain Montgomery served with me when he was a lieutenant; and to repeat that he now stands at the head of the room with Lady Julia L.”
“The gentleman at the head of the room, dancing with Lady Julia L.,” said a consequential looking elderly man in black, pressing forward through the crowd, and nodding to Lady D., “is Lord Fitz-Ullin”——
“Sir?” said the Admiral, with a look of defiance.
“Yes, sir,” said the gentleman in black, smiling in the angry face of his opponent; “I had this very day the honour of dining with his Lordship at his own house, in company with the Dowager Lady Fitz-Ullin, Lady Oswald, an aunt of his Lordship, and the very beautiful young lady, whose affair has, unfortunately, been of late the subject of so much discussion.”
“Where you may have dined, sir, or with whom, are not points for me to dispute; but,” persisted our naval hero, “the gentleman dancing with Lady Julia L. is Captain Montgomery!”
“Is Lord Fitz-Ullin,” repeated the man in black: “Pray, sir, give me leave, sir, and”——
“I will give no man leave, sir, to contradict me! I have distinctly asserted that I am personally acquainted with Captain Montgomery; and that the gentleman dancing with Lady Julia L. is Captain Montgomery: whoever asserts that he is not Captain Montgomery, gives me the lie!”
“My good friend! my good friend! why so fierce?” exclaimed a new addition to the circle, offering his hand to the Admiral as he came up.
Lady D. explained the cause of dispute; and the Admiral’s friend, laughing heartily, said, “Five minutes since, I saw Lord L. present the young man now dancing with Lady Julia L. to both his daughters, as Lord Fitz-Ullin.”
“Spirit of Fingall! ’Tis Fingall himself.”
If our readers are desirous to know how this personage, respecting whose identity there seem to exist so many contradictory opinions, obtained entrance to this gay circle, and the envied hand of Lady Julia L.; nay, how it was that so many people actually believed him to be Lord Fitz-Ullin; we must lead them back, about half an hour, to when, and where, we left the sisters with Lord L., near the door of the first reception-room.
Mammas told Lord L. that he ought to have allowed their girls a chance, before he thus cruelly merged all that had been bright in the hemisphere of fashion in the dazzling lustre of stars so pre-eminent. The young ladies themselves thought, that had they had as beautiful dresses on, they should have looked just as well. The downright old gentlemen congratulated his Lordship, with sincere cordiality, on the charms of his daughters. Those who still had twinkling eyes, and merry souls, wished themselves twenty years younger, and envied the present generation. The middle-aged dandies addressed well-turned compliments to the ladies themselves; and the coxcomical young ones endeavoured to look quite irresistible, as they made their bows in silence.
At length, “Lord Fitz-Ullin!—Lord Fitz-Ullin!” was thundered in the hall, echoed, from servant to servant, on each landing of the stairs, and finally repeated at the door of the reception room. The reports of his Lordship’s intended marriage broken off at the altar, and of his having shot himself for love, were fresh in the minds of all; so that the idea of beholding him, appeared to create a pretty general sensation; and, at the sound of his announcement, every head turned round. Yet, when he did actually enter, Julia was not even aware of the circumstance. She had looked towards the door, her heart trembling with the expectation of seeing Edmund enter with him. And she had seen Edmund enter; but with whom she had been too much agitated to notice. The appearance of our hero had shocked her. It was that of one who had received a stunning blow! All expression of feature was deadened,—all animation of air and carriage gone! He advanced with eyes scarcely raised. If Julia’s ideas had been thrown into a state of confusion on his first entrance, what was her astonishment, when her father, presenting our hero, said, “Julia, my dear, this is Lord Fitz-Ullin! Lord Fitz-Ullin, Lady Julia L., Lady Frances L.”
It was now Lord L.’s turn to be surprised. He saw both his daughters extend a hand at the same moment, while the gentleman he was in the act of presenting, took a hand of each, and, though with a pale and quivering lip, pronounced the names, Julia, Frances, divested of title.
All this had occupied but a second or two, during which Lord L. had exclaimed, “My introduction has been superfluous here, I perceive!”
“Why, papa,” cried Frances, “this is Edmund!”
Julia attempted to speak, but failed. Lord L. looked his amazement, which was too great for utterance.
“It is very true, my Lord,” said our hero, raising his eyes, and making a wretched attempt to smile; “I am both Montgomery and Fitz-Ullin! and, in that double character,” he added, in a tone of more feeling, “owe a double debt of gratitude and affection to Lord L., and to—to all his family,” he attempted to say, but voice failed him. Here, notwithstanding Lord L.’s aversion to a scene, something very like one, unavoidably took place; at the commencement of which, however, his Lordship had the presence of mind, to hurry the party, for a few moments, just within the doorway of a small refreshment room, which stood invitingly open at but the distance of a pace or two, and which was as yet unoccupied. Here Edmund hastily gave recitals, of some very unexpected discoveries, which the supposed Lord Fitz-Ullin’s intended marriage had brought to light, and which had proved our hero to be the only legitimate son and rightful heir of the deceased Earl. The noble conduct of the individual who was the sole sufferer, had, he explained, placed him at once in quiet possession of all his rights. In answer to Lord L.’s surprise that a clearer statement of facts had not appeared in the papers, he mentioned, that the editors had been silenced, for the present, from delicacy to the feelings of some of the parties. He seemed shocked when Frances assured him, that his letter to her grandmamma, had been completely a riddle.
He thought, he said, that it had explained all that the papers had left unexplained. But, he confessed that he had had much to agitate and confuse his mind just at the time; and that he did not, therefore, know exactly what he had written; his object, however, in writing, he said, had been to mark the respect due to his revered benefactress, by giving her the earliest intimation of the wonderful change in his circumstances.
Edmund confessed that he would have turned back, and postponed this agitating interview till the next day, had he not got out of the carriage and ascended the stairs in total abstraction of mind, and literally without once looking about him till he had entered the first reception room, when it was too late to retreat. Explanations ended, Lord L., as the party returned to the company, said, with assumed carelessness:—
“It is full time, I should think, for the dancing to commence. You had better take Julia out,” he added, lowering his voice, and addressing our hero, “you know how to prevail in that quarter, I dare say!”
Edmund, (whom we must in future call Fitz-Ullin,) instead of colouring became paler than before, and, without speaking, offered his arm to Julia. She took it with a sensation of panic. The strangeness of his present manner, agreed but too well with that letter, but for which, and this manner, how happy had the wonderful discoveries of this evening made her. How happy, even for dear Edmund’s sake, had it been possible not to mingle self with the thought.
As she took his offered arm, she was certain she felt him shudder; but as her own trembled at the time, she afterwards thought she might have been mistaken.
They walked up the room in silence. Confused, and pained, Julia found that she could not congratulate her companion on his good fortune with the cordial frankness which had else been natural, nor ask half the obvious questions, respecting circumstances so hastily explained, and which had brought about, thus suddenly, a state of things, that altogether appeared to her bewildered apprehension, more like a dream, than a reality. Oh how delightedly would she have dwelt, she thought, a short time since on such a subject, so full of wonder, and, which ought to be, so full of joy.
But something extraordinary, something more than sorrow in the manner of this incomprehensible being, whom she must now too, call by the new, and not yet endeared name of Fitz-Ullin, seemed to have raised up an insuperable barrier between them. Even the expression of his countenance, (though still she beheld the features of Edmund) was, in all that regarded mind, or indicated feeling, utterly changed.
His presence inspired her with an almost superstitious awe! He was so like, and yet so unlike himself, that she traced the resemblance, with feelings not far removed from those with which the identity of a visitant from the grave might be recognised. And strange it is, that such identity should appal, while it portrays what, in life, would have claimed our fondest embrace.
He was indeed evidently miserable; and that idea, awakened every habitual feeling of tenderness in Julia’s breast. The thought of, why he was thus unhappy, came next in the train of reflections, and, as it presented itself in the unwelcome form of his love for another, she unconsciously suffered a sigh to be audible.
Fitz-Ullin looked suddenly round; her eyes were bent downwards; and now, for the first time since he entered the room, he permitted his to dwell, for a few seconds, on that perfect loveliness which he had never contemplated, even in imagination, without a bewildering sense of delight, which rendered the lapse of time imperceptible. Julia felt his silent gaze, though she saw it not, and a thrill of pleasure accompanied the consciousness; for which weakness, however, she instantly condemned herself.
Thus occupied, our hero and heroine, arrived at the head of the dancing room, forgetful of all present, while the eyes, if not of all, of many, were, as we have seen, fixed on them. But where is that radiant joy; where that sunshine of the heart brightening every feature, which might naturally be expected, at this moment, to appear on the countenance of the once humble Edmund, feeling himself, as he must now do, in every circumstance the equal of that Julia, whom he had so long thought it presumption, nay even ingratitude to love; yet loved to an excess so uncontroulable, that no power was left of concealing his passion, and to fly its object, had become his only resource.
When last he had been her partner in a scene like the present, could some prophetic voice have said, “Within a few short months shall Edmund, whose only home is the deep, have wide domains and large possessions, inherited from his forefathers: Edmund, whose very name is but a borrowed right, have titles and dignities, descending through lines of honoured ancestry, and centring in him: Edmund, who knows not at what unlettered grave to mourn a father’s loss, be found the son of him whose memory has been embalmed by a nation’s tears!”
With what feelings had he hailed the wondrous prophecy! Yet, at this moment, was all the fairy-tale vision realized, and Edmund, notwithstanding, entered the mazes of the joyous dance, looking and moving like one, bewildered by the excess of mental suffering.
The laws of the figure constantly severed the hand of his partner from his, and as constantly required him to retake it; but, what with anticipating this part of the ceremony at one time, and delaying it at another, he was more than once guilty of actually deranging the order of the quadrille.
… “Remorse return’d, Torn of its inward workings she shriek’d aloud.”
Meanwhile Lady D.’s party, whom we left in high contest as to the identity of Lady Julia L.’s partner, seem to have settled that point in an amicable manner, and to be now busily occupied, listening to an oration from the old gentleman in black.
It is evident that he has been entertaining his audience with some of the particulars of our hero’s adventures when a child.
From the account which this seemingly well-informed speaker proceeds to give, it would appear that the information contained in the ill-spelt, undated letter of Edmund’s nurse, was, as far as it was intelligible, true: so much so, indeed, that we recommend a second perusal of the precious document to all who may have forgotten any part of its contents.
Fitz-Ullin was, it seems, the title of the great family alluded to anonymously by the nurse. Edmund had, as the letter stated, been stolen when an infant in arms off the lawn by a strolling beggar, at a time when the family were from home. His nurse had substituted her own child, at first, to avoid blame. Afterwards, she had grown too fond of seeing her son bringing up to be a young lord, to seize, or inform against, the bold vagrant when she discovered her, as mentioned in the letter, carrying the stolen child about.
The smiling boy, described in the letter as flinging his cake out of the carriage window to poor Edmund, when on crutches, and apparently with but one leg, he begged before it, was no other than our hero’s after friend, Ormond, now proved to be the nurse’s child. And the lady, who had sat with the smiling boy on her knee, thinking him her own son, and looked out, with but a passing feeling of compassion on the one little bare foot of the mendicant child, half sunk in the wet mud of the street, its little shoulders almost forced out of their sockets by its crutches, and its poor little features wearing the wan expression of premature misery, was no other than that mendicant child’s own mother, the first Lady Fitz-Ullin. This was some years after he had been stolen. Soon after this it was that poor little Edmund had been carried over to Cumberland by the said vagrant, in company with a ship-load of reapers. After the harvest he had been led about at Keswick Regatta, to excite the compassion of the company; and after the Regatta, abandoned, as we have described, by his then supposed mother, the beggar woman; who, when caught in the fact of stealing linen from a hedge, was obliged to have recourse to hasty flight.
The narrator next proceeded to recount, what we already know, the particulars of how poor Edmund, on the evening of the day he had been thus abandoned, and nearly perishing with cold and hunger, was found on the borders of the lake, by Mrs. Montgomery’s daughter, Lady L.; brought home by her; and, ever since, cherished and protected by the whole family.
“And was the gentleman who is now dancing with Lady Julia L.,” inquired a young lady, “that poor little boy that was begging under the carriage window; and who is now Lord Fitz-Ullin? How curious!”
“Precisely so, madam,” replied our sable orator.
When it was mentioned that the present Lord Fitz-Ullin, during all the years from childhood upwards, had, as Edmund Montgomery, been the constant, intimate companion of Lord L.’s daughters, the Colonel, addressing Lady D. aside, laid claim to some discernment.
“Well, I declare,” continued the young lady, “if I were Lord Fitz-Ullin, I should be always quite afraid I might turn out to be somebody else, some other time.”
“The proofs of his Lordship’s identity, madam,” said the important man in black, “had been carefully preserved by wretches, who hoped to have made a market of the secret; and who indeed would, as it has lately appeared, have done so, had it not been for the upright and honourable feelings of the poor young man himself.”
“But, sir,” enquired Lady D., “does Lord Fitz-Ullin intend to marry the lady, who figured in the papers lately as the cause of all the fracas?”
“Certainly not, madam!” replied the proud explainer of mysteries, who now saw himself surrounded by a numerous audience. “In the first place, madam, you must recollect, that it was not Lord Fitz-Ullin, but the unfortunate young man who was then supposed to be Lord Fitz-Ullin, who was about to marry the young lady. And in the second place, madam, the young lady is a sort of half sister of his Lordship’s.”
“Sister!” exclaimed Lady D., “surely the late Lord Fitz-Ullin left no daughter by either marriage.”
“I do not mean to say,” continued the speaker, “that the young lady, or young woman, is daughter to either of the Ladies Fitz-Ullin; she is, notwithstanding, daughter to the late Lord Fitz-Ullin, and twin sister to the unhappy young man who, for so many years, was called Lord Ormond; and who, for the last few months, has borne the title of Fitz-Ullin; and who is now simply Mr., or rather Captain Ormond; and that only by courtesy: such children having in law, I believe, no right to any name but their mother’s.”
“A terrible thing for him, poor young man!” said Lady D. “He can never bear to meet any of his former acquaintance.”
“The present Lord Fitz-Ullin, however,” continued our enlightened informer, “has behaved towards him with the noblest liberality, as well as towards Miss Ormond, as the sister is now called.”
“And pray, Doctor ⸺, what had she been called? There was no name mentioned in the papers, I think.”
“O’Neil, the name of her mother’s husband, who was the land steward.”
“And pray who was her mother?”
“The woman was the present Lord Fitz-Ullin’s nurse, madam: and one of her apologies for having substituted her own child in place of the rightful heir, when the Lady’s child (as she still calls his present Lordship) had been stolen from her was, that her own boy was a son of Lord Fitz-Ullin.”
“And what led to the discovery of all this just now? and can you tell, as you seem so well-informed, what all that was which appeared in the papers about a rivalship, and a marriage broken off at the altar, and a shooting-match, &c.”
“I can, madam:” and here the gentleman in black bowed, smiled, and took a pinch of snuff. “Indeed, I may say,” he added, while closing his box, “that I am (being a friend of the family) in some measure authorized to correct misapprehensions on this subject. We have, I believe, succeeded at last in silencing the papers; that is, since the first day or two; as soon, in fact, as Lord Fitz-Ullin had leisure to attend to any thing. It was his wish to do so, from delicacy to the feelings of Captain Ormond.” For the same reasons, as well as for many others, we suspect that his Lordship would have also gladly silenced the present speaker, had that been equally possible; for, if we are not much mistaken, he is far exceeding his commission for the correction of misapprehensions.
This self-elected friend of the family is, however, very good authority; being no other than the physician who had been, and still was, in attendance on Ormond. He is one of His Majesty’s physicians, and a man of so much eminence, notwithstanding his communicative propensities, that he is in the best society.
“In the first place, madam,” continued the Doctor, in answer to Lady D.’s list of questions, “though there certainly was a marriage broken off at the altar, there was no rivalship whatever, nor the slightest foundation for such a rumour. The catastrophe, indeed, was much hastened, and almost all the wild reports which have gone abroad, produced by Captain Ormond’s unfortunate passion for the young lady who afterwards proved to be his sister; and with whom he had at first become acquainted during her residence at some finishing boarding-school. So violent, indeed, was the attachment which subsisted between these young persons; strengthened, as it was, by long indulgence; for they had been secretly engaged for years, it seems; that nothing could prevent the marriage, but confession on the part of the mother. This she delayed till the last moment; in fact, till her son and daughter stood together at the altar! Then it was that rushing past them with screams like those of a maniac, and with such velocity that indeed, though every one looked round to discover whence the sounds came, (for I happened to be present, madam,) no one saw her till she stood beside the officiating clergyman; when, laying one hand on his lips and spreading the other over his open book, after remaining speechless from want of breath for a few moments, during which the wonder of the beholders was very great, she shrieked aloud, in accents that rang through the whole church, that they were brother and sister! nay, that they were twins! that she herself was their mother; their wretched, sinful mother; and that the late Lord Fitz-Ullin was their father.
“The poor young man was so much affected by the scene which followed; the frantic appearance of the old woman who called herself his mother; the fainting away of the interesting, and certainly very beautiful young creature, whose hand he still held, and whom he scarcely knew whether to call sister or bride; the great change in his own circumstances too, and the sudden revulsion of his feelings; that, in short, he went home, (or rather to the house which he had so long thought his home,) and shot himself!—that is, attempted to do so; indeed, did wound himself: it was his friend, the rightful and present Lord Fitz-Ullin, who was fortunate enough to prevent his completing his terrible purpose.”
Various expressions of pity and horror were here uttered by the listeners. “Indeed, the young man,” continued the speaker, “deserves well of the Earl, for his conduct on the occasion was truly noble.”
“On entering his hall, on his return from church, he was beset by the wretches, in whose hands were every proof by which his present Lordship could substantiate his claims. These they offered, for a certain sum, so effectually to suppress, that notwithstanding the wild declaration of the woman in church, the rightful Earl should never be able legally to dispossess him, either of title or property. He however, spurned all such offers with the utmost indignation; and would not suffer the persons to leave his presence, till he had sent for his Lordship—I mean his present Lordship—then commonly called Captain Montgomery, and laid all the facts before him. After which it was, that the poor young man retired to his sleeping apartment, and made that rash attempt upon his own life, which I before mentioned. I had always attended the late Earl, whose friendship I had the honour of possessing. I was therefore sent for by Lady Fitz-Ullin immediately, and have, of course, visited the house, either in my medical or friendly capacity, every day since; and I have the satisfaction to say, that I can now pronounce Captain Ormond out of danger.
“I never heard any thing so shocking!” said the Admiral, in a tone of much feeling, for since the first ebullition of his wrath on being contradicted, he had become an interested listener; “that poor young man, brought up to fortune, rank, title, every thing, now thrown on the world, without a home, or even a name!”
“When I last saw him,” said Lady D., “it was at his father’s table. A mild looking young man with a sweet smile. I remember he sat opposite to me, talking to a daughter of the Duke of B. I said, you know,” she added turning to the Colonel, “that this man’s countenance was not quite what I thought I could recollect of Lord Ormond.”
“The young man has been a most unhappy, and, it would appear innocent victim of the moral turpitude of others;” observed a gentleman who had not before spoken, and whose black silk apron proclaimed him a dignitary of the church. “The story affords a striking, practical revelation of the will of Him, who has ordained that misery shall be the fruit of vice;” he added, addressing a younger person on whose arm he leaned.
The general move occasioned by the breaking up of the now concluded set of quadrilles, dispersed our listening party, and sent them to seek various amusements in other parts of the gay assembly.
Immediately after Julia had gone into the dancing-room with Edmund, a handsome lively young man, not much above the middle size, but remarkably well made, came up to Lord L., with whom he appeared well acquainted. He particularly requested an introduction to Frances, which Lord L., without absolute reluctance, granted; for young Beaumont, though but second son to Lord Beaumont, might be classed among those whom Lord L. considered as proper young men, being grandson to the Duke of ⸺, and inheriting a large property in right of his mother, Lady Charlotte ⸺, his Grace’s only child. On being introduced, Beaumont requested the honour of Lady Frances L.’s hand in due form, and led her towards the quadrilles.
Whenever he addressed her, and that in consequence she raised her eyes to his face, she thought she must have seen him before, but could not remember where. A vague suspicion, however, sometimes crossed her mind; yet, if that were the case, the dress was now so different. Beaumont’s manners were very animated; and he was so assiduous to please, that Frances’s natural gaiety of heart, soon appeared with as little restraint, as if they had been long acquainted.
“This is not the first effort I have made to have the honour of being presented to Lady Frances L.,” said Mr. Beaumont, at last, with a rather conscious smile, and a little hesitation; “but I was not quite so fortunate in my former essay.”
“I thought I had seen you before!” said Frances. “Then you are the gentleman that played the flute on the Lake, and that had the two beautiful dogs, and that——”
Frances stopped short, for there was something in the sort of pleasure that Beaumont’s countenance expressed, which betrayed that he considered the accuracy of her memory as a compliment to himself. He immediately perceived that he had committed an error, which nothing but the greatest humility could rectify. With downcast eyes, therefore, he said, “he must esteem himself fortunate in possessing even dogs, worthy of being remembered by Lady Frances L.”
Frances was very near being taken in to believe that she had been guilty of a want of politeness, in having made leading personages of the dogs. She was just about to attempt some qualifying sentence, when, looking up for the purpose, she perceived, that notwithstanding the downcast eye, and assumed gravity of tone, the gratified smile was again stealing over the lips of Beaumont. She checked herself immediately, and determined never to have a good memory again.
“This excessive reserve,” (thought Beaumont, who had perceived both the first movement, and the change of plan,) “is not a bad symptom.”
“Now, I have,” he said, looking up again, and throwing as much gentleness, persuasion, and humility, into his countenance as possible, “on some occasions, at least, the most unfashionable of memories.” He then commenced a full and accurate account of every time he had but passed the Lodore house party, whether riding, driving, walking, or boating; whereabouts Frances had sat in the boat, what sort of dress she had worn, &c. At length, by his animated descriptions, he so far succeeded in throwing her off her guard, that he sometimes obtained, by a look or a smile, an inadvertent acknowledgment that he was right. Slight as was this encouragement, Beaumont already fixed his hopes upon it, so prone are young men, (even the best of them,) to egregious vanity. His spirits rose, and gave to his manners an additional vivacity, which seemed to Frances quite fascinating. She almost felt sorry when the set was drawing to a conclusion, notwithstanding her impatience to talk to Edmund about all that had happened, and express her own wonder and delight, at things turning out just as grandmamma and Mr. Jackson always said they would.
The quadrille ended, she requested Beaumont to lead her towards Julia and Fitz-Ullin. This proved no very easy task, and when at length she did catch a glimpse, at a distance, of the doleful countenance of his newly elevated Lordship, she could not help saying to herself, “Well, certainly, sentimental people are, after all, sometimes, very tiresome!” The qualifying expression, sometimes, was put in after the sentence was commenced, a feeling of affection for the so long, so dear Edmund, having arisen and reproached her, for her first movement of distaste at the sight of a melancholy object, just at a time, when she was so much inclined to be pleased. Her agreeable flirtation with her new acquaintance, however, was not destined to come to so hasty a conclusion, for the attempt to join Julia and her partner utterly failed.
“This is too much for human sufferance, Despair, rapidly, to an early tomb Is carrying thy youth!”
Meanwhile, our heroine and Fitz-Ullin, accompanied many others into a refreshment room, where they lingered a little, after the rest of the couples returned to the ball room.
The delay had been more on the part of Julia than of her companion; for there was an extraordinary formality and coldness about his manner, he appeared, as it were, to wait her commands. His eyes were cast down, he was silent; not even a catch of the breath was audible, though more than once a movement of the chest might have indicated, to a close observer, that a rising sigh had been suppressed. “How unlike what Edmund used to be!” thought Julia. He had told her, in answer to some one of the obvious questions she had attempted during the dancing, that one of his names was still Edmund.
“A strange time this he has chosen,” she thought, “to become cold and unfriendly to his oldest friends.” Yet she tried to congratulate him on the unexpected change in his fortunes, with much of real kindness, and an effort, at least, at playfulness of manner; for, thought Julia, “I must not pretend to understand this absurd grief about Lady Susan.”
“It is a species of mockery, Julia,” he said, “to congratulate me on advantages which, however ardently desired at one period, can now but aggravate the bitterness of disappointment.”
“Oh, Edmund,” said Julia, thrown off her guard by his look and voice of wretchedness, “why will you be miserable? Did not the real regard and friendship of all your early friends, long, long suffice for your happiness, and why will you suffer the disappointment of one, now you see, you—must see—never—well founded hope, to render valueless every real good.” But suddenly recollecting that her kindness was no longer generosity to the poor friendless Edmund, she checked herself, coloured, and became silent. Fitz-Ullin seemed to struggle for some time for composure, or for voice to reply.
“That one hope, Julia,” he at length articulated with peculiar bitterness of tone, “however ill founded you assure me it has ever been——”
“I assure you!” exclaimed Julia, with some surprise.
“That one hope,” he continued, speaking with effort, and from his visibly increasing agitation, without noticing the interruption, “that one hope, was all that gave life value in my eyes.”
“Indeed!” said Julia, assuming in her turn an air of coldness; and, for her, almost disdain.
“Friendship,” he proceeded, “all I have ever loved, all I have ever known, all I have ever been, are too intimately associated with that one hope, to be remembered without agony, when separated from it: all must be resigned together! Would to heaven!” he added, with energy, “I could first replace him, whom, most unwillingly, I have destined to become a wanderer from his long-accustomed home, and deprived of a rank, without which, he loathes existence, and which is valueless to me! But, poor fellow, he would not retain, for one hour, what he called my rights. Of his rash attempt at suicide, you are aware.” Julia bowed her assent. “The shocking occurrence,” he went on, “took place, as you also know, just as I was on the point of setting out for Lodore——.” That, thought Julia, I did not know before; but she felt not very well able to interrupt him; nor did she deem the circumstance of any importance.
“After which,” continued Fitz-Ullin, “the imperious necessity of soothing and guarding my unfortunate friend, lest he should repeat the attempt on his life, obliged me to have recourse to writing. You know the rest, Julia.” His look and manner here, expressed something of wildness, although, in the arrangement of his words, there was a forced composure.
“I only know,” she replied, with difficulty suppressing her tears, “that that letter made me——,” she was going to have said, very miserable; but she changed her intention, and said, “gave me great uneasiness.”
“I am sorry I should have caused you pain” he replied coldly, “but I felt that such an explanation was due. And now, let me say, farewell for ever! Without this interview, when thousand of miles apart—perhaps—I should have—I should not have.”
Here he broke off abruptly, and seemed to struggle with an emotion, difficult to be suppressed. Of his last speech, Julia had heard, or at least had comprehended, but the words, “Farewell for ever!” “I go,” he recommenced, with a voice so hoarse from emotion, that it literally could not have been recognized for his; “I go to-morrow to Lodore, to take a long farewell of my dearest, most honoured friend, your revered grandmother: after that, to sea; to end, I hope, my miserable career, by dying honourably in the service of my country.”
Ere he concluded, Julia, whose power of acting composure was totally gone, had covered her eyes with both her hands, and hid her face on the arm of the little sofa on which she was seated; for every thing had begun to swim before her sight, and she dreaded exposing her feelings, by, perhaps, fainting. A sense of coldness passed over her cheeks, and there was a rushing sound in her ears, and a confusion in her ideas, which lasted for some time, and made her uncertain, when she did begin to revive, how long she had remained in that painful state. Yet she had, she found, preserved her sitting posture. She was even beginning to congratulate herself upon this circumstance, when she felt an arm which had hitherto, she now found, been the means of supporting her, somewhat hastily withdrawn. Nearly at the same moment, she heard an approaching step, and a moment after, one of her hands was taken, but not with Edmund’s usual gentleness, and pressed to the lips of one, who now assumed a kneeling posture, and drew her other hand from before her eyes. She looked round, and to her inexpressible surprise and horror, beheld Henry at her feet, while the figure of our hero was hastily passing out of the door-way.
When Julia believed it was Edmund, who, with a manner at which her feelings revolted she knew not why, had kissed her hand, she fancied she was shocked at his want of delicacy; but the bitterness of her disappointment, when she saw it was Henry, who had done so, showed how easily Edmund would have been forgiven.
Fitz-Ullin did not appear again during the remainder of the evening. Julia’s indignation against Henry, aroused her more effectually, than, perhaps, any thing else could have done. He answered her warmly-expressed displeasure, by assuring her, with a diabolical laugh, that she should not have to complain of his tenderness much longer.
A second set of quadrilles having by this time concluded, the refreshment-room was again crowded, and Lady Julia L. shortly led back to the dance, attended by a host of distinguished admirers.
“What a change.”
When the sisters retired to their apartment for the night, Frances’ exuberantly gay spirits received a sad check; she saw at a glance, how thoroughly unhappy Julia was.
The extraordinary change in Edmund’s circumstances, was freely talked over and wondered at, even in the presence of Alice; and she ventured to express her joy on the occasion, and to comment on how delighted her aunt, and, indeed, every servant at Lodore would be, when they should hear of what had happened.
A few moments of silence followed her dismissal, during which, Frances looked enquiringly at her sister.
“Well, we have had a full explanation,” said Julia.
“Indeed!” cried Frances, “and what did he say, Julia?”
“Oh, treated all the friendship, that all or any of us could offer him, with sovereign contempt!”
“Impossible! you must have misunderstood him.”
“Oh no, there was no room for misunderstanding; he was explicit enough, I assure you! Why, he was little short of angry, (as if it was my fault, that Lady Susan chose to prefer the Marquis of H.), that hope had been all, he said, that, in his eyes, gave value to existence; and he would, therefore, leave England for ever!” The firmness our heroine had been affecting, here gave way, and her voice faltered. Frances embraced her.
“Oh, and he talked all sorts of ridiculous nonsense,” continued Julia, as she vainly endeavoured to check her tears, “about dying an honourable death, and said, that my congratulating him, on his late good fortune, was a mockery. I used, I am sure, to pity him, if he only looked melancholy for a moment; but really, this caricature, of sorrow, one cannot sympathise with!” Julia seems to forget a grand distinction: when she used to feel such indulgent pity for the melancholy look, she believed that love, for herself, was its source; it was quite another thing now; she could see the folly of being in despair about any body else.
“And what a time,” said Frances, “to behave ungratefully! It is certainly very unlike Edmund. Indeed Julia, I think you must have mistaken him, some way.” Julia shook her head. “We used, you know, to imagine,” continued Frances, “that it would be such a time of rejoicing, whenever Edmund was discovered to be some great person, (as Mr. Jackson always said would be the case;) and now, the time is come; and we only seem to have lost our own Edmund. How could I have been so mistaken! I was absolutely certain that he was breaking his heart about his love for you: yet, if he was, this would not be the time to be in particular despair about it, just when, it is most probable, that papa would give his consent. So, I suppose, I must have been mistaken.”
Frances had had a thousand things to tell her sister about her new old acquaintance, Beaumont; but the melancholy subject they had been just discussing, and Julia’s tearful countenance, made her think it all such nonsense, that she determined not even to mention the subject.
… “Why, Did I look upon her fatal beauty!”
We said, that one of our hero’s appellations, was still Edmund. Written at full length, his names and titles are, Edmund-Oscar, Ormond, Earl Fitz-Ullin. As an infant, previous to his being stolen from home, he had always been called Edmund, to please his mother, from whose father he derived that name; but, after that Lady’s death, and the second marriage of the Earl, it became the custom of the family, to call the nurse’s boy, (who then filled the place of the stolen child,) by the name of Oscar, one to which Lord Fitz-Ullin was partial, as having been frequently borne by the representatives of the title.
Our hero remained but one day at Lodore. To Mrs. Montgomery he explained every thing, but the cause of his own feelings: the state of them he did not attempt to hide. When Mrs. Montgomery spoke of Lady Susan’s marriage, as the cause of his despairing letter, he neither confessed that it was, nor said that it was not. This conduct the kind old lady construed into a confession, that she was right. She, accordingly, after endeavouring to rally him, without being able to extort a smile, closed the subject, by gently hinting, that she had expected more firmness of mind from him: and hoping, that a little change of scene, would make him, very shortly, see things in quite another point of view.
Even Mr. Jackson, who, according to the determination he expressed on first hearing Edmund’s letter read, had gone up to town, even he had not been able to draw forth a word on the subject. Once, indeed, Fitz-Ullin said, after a long reverie, and when no question had been asked: “The longer I live, Jackson, the more strongly I feel the excellent truth of your early lessons; had I always obeyed the suggestions of conscience, not only in the letter, but in the spirit; had the plain road, pointed out by duty, been resolutely trod; without waiting to inquire of passion, if there were not a flowery by-path that would, ultimately, lead to the same end; my present sufferings had possibly been, at least, less poignant than they are.”
Mr. Jackson was, for a moment, puzzled, almost alarmed. “You can only mean,” he said, “that it would have been more strictly honourable in you, to have avoided Lady Susan’s society, while your birth was unknown, and your fortune limited—Yet—as things have turned out—had her Ladyship entertained a reciprocal preference, why—”
“In your kind zeal to place me on good terms with myself,” said Edmund, mournfully, “you are becoming a sophist, Jackson! What had my sense of duty to do with events which I did not, could not foresee?”
This was a sort of admission, that Mr. Jackson had been right, in ascribing Edmund’s wretchedness to his disappointment, about Lady Susan; but nothing more was said on the subject then, or at any other time.
Fitz-Ullin, without evincing any desire to enjoy his new found rank and fortune, joined his ship immediately. He seemed to seek escape, from the mental exertion of considering whither he should fly, by thus subjecting himself to the necessity of going wherever, and doing whatever, the service should require of him. Among the particulars, respecting the discovery of our hero’s birth, which the late circumstances brought to light, it appeared that his nurse, who, when she wrote to Mrs. Montgomery, thought herself dying, not only recovered and repented of her repentance, but married again, a man who would have made a market of the secret, had Ormond been without principle. This man was among the persons, who made the offers already mentioned. He undertook that his wife, the nurse, should not be forthcoming; or, that were she obliged to come forward, she should, on cross-examination, purposely so contradict herself, as to invalidate her evidence.
It was, therefore, of his own free will, that poor Ormond had resigned at once, the rank, the wealth, and the home, in which he had from infancy lived, believing them his birth-right. His twin sister, who was in courtesy called Miss Ormond, had received a very superior education, to fit her for the situation of governess.
It is a remarkable circumstance, that, in point of fact, the actual fund which had supplied an education, so fatal in its consequences, was the wages of sin; the very remuneration bestowed by the munificent Earl, on the dependant he had seduced. Thus, as by a remarkable retribution, this command of money in the hands of the guilty mother, became the means of blighting the young hearts of both her ill-fated children, and bringing her own grey hairs with shame and sorrow to the grave.
The poor young woman had been settled for some years, in the capacity of governess, in a highly respectable private family, at the time that the marriage between Ormond and her was attempted; which was one of the reasons why the wretched mother was not aware how far matters had gone, till almost the last moment.
“The Monarch takes his dazzling seat. … Nobles Flock, to offer willing homage.”
The presentation of the sisters took place, and threw open, at once, the floodgates of dissipation: while the London season, at its height, offered all its fascinating varieties. But, to Julia, every day appeared the same. The only impression she seemed capable of receiving, from the ever changing scenes in which she was engaged, was, from all, a sense of weariness. The newspapers alone, had power to interest her; except, that she derived a melancholy pleasure from listening to the praises, by Lady Oswald, of Edmund’s generous kindness to herself, and to her son Arthur, now our hero’s cousin.
To Frances, on the contrary, all was novelty and brilliancy. She never felt so much inclined to be quite happy; and would have been so, but for her sympathy with her sister. She little thought that what so much exhilarated her spirits, was but the first approach of that desperate malady, First Love, which, in its more advanced stage, caused the fixed melancholy of Julia. Frances found a most agreeable variety, in the mode of passing her time. Mr. Beaumont, for instance, could not venture to call every day, so that the days he did call, were distinguished by that memorable event; and the days he did not, by his driving past under the windows, fifty or an hundred times in his curricle. Or, they met in the park; or, danced together at one or more of the gay engagements of the evening; or, he found his way into Lord L.’s box at the opera, or, &c., &c., &c.
Beaumont, whose hopes received so much support from his vanity, on the very first evening, found that prop fail him, as his feelings became more seriously interested; and doubts and fears accumulated, as the value of the wished-for object, increased in his estimation.
We pass some splendid alliances, which, it was evident, would have been offered to Julia, but for the decided discouragement shown by her to all. Lord L. too, conscious that rank and beauty such as Julia’s, when accompanied by immense fortune, possessed claims that might, at any time, secure a suitable establishment, determined not to press upon her any choice, she did not freely make. Indeed, his answers to such as requested his permission to address his daughter, were to that effect.
We believe that, added to the above reason, Lord L. had still a lingering wish, of which he was perhaps unconscious, and for which he would possibly have found it difficult to account satisfactorily. We mean, a wish to see Julia united to Fitz-Ullin; to whom he had taken an almost unreasonable fancy; considering how little he had seen of him.
As to Frances, Beaumont’s declared attentions to her, and her pleased acceptance of them, kept all others at a distance.
At length the London scene closed, and the family party returned to Lodore-House, to celebrate the birth-day, which, by making the sisters of age, placed their being heiresses to Lord L.’s extensive estates, beyond contingency; for, even in the event of their father marrying again, his whole property was entailed on the children of his first marriage; in failure of a son to go, at his death, to such daughter or daughters, as should live to be of age, and their heirs for ever. Lord L. had been too much in love when he married, to contemplate the possibility of losing his beautiful young wife, and wishing to marry again. His Lordship’s lawyers, indeed, attempted to hint something of the kind; but, with a countenance of horror, the young lover had refused to listen to such cold-hearted suggestions.
Such anniversaries as the present, Mrs. Montgomery always wished to have kept under her own roof, where the actual event had taken place.
Henry had preceded Lord L. and his daughters into Cumberland; for, either accidentally or purposely, he had been too late for the sailing of the Euphrasia.
“The sun had set in rich magnificence: The west was a region of golden light, Inscrutable in lustre, involving The imagination in its ocean Of effulgence: while from its distant shores Of miraculous brightness, came floating, On mid air, light fleeces of gold. Slowly The silent moments stole a chill o’er this Enchantment, the bright wand’rers disappeared; The western paradise closed her gates; And gray twilight, sat on the mountain side.”
The morning after the festival given for the birth-day, Mrs. Montgomery, partly from having taken cold, and partly from fatigue, felt far from well, and consequently remained in bed the entire of the day. Julia sat with her grandmother all the morning. After dinner, Frances relieved guard, and begged of her sister, as the evening was fine, to take a little walk.
Lord L. was dining with Lord Borrowdale. Henry had quitted Lodore-House that morning, saying, that he was setting out to join the Euphrasia, which, it appeared by the papers, was shortly expected in the Sound.
Julia, therefore, walked out quite alone, she directed her steps towards the desolate vale, where her mother had first found poor Edmund. She seated herself. Her eyes rested on the western hill. It was topped by a few scattered trees, the grouping and even the ramifications of which, were accurately traced out by the bright glow of the heavens behind them. The eastern side of the slope was in shadow, and the woods that clothed it hung to the very waters’ edge, while the lake at its foot, reflecting the crimson clouds above, appeared a sheet of fire. The dazzle of the sun’s immediate presence being removed, (for he had just dropped behind the hill,) the relieved eye could now view with delighted leisure, all the beauty, magnificence, and infinite variety of the scene, wherein, each moment, changes were wrought, imperceptible in their approaches, but in their effects, picturesque and splendid, as the most vivid descriptions of enchantment.
Amid the clouds, cloud-formed castles turreted with gold, and temples, sustained by pillars which seemed of fire, arose, spread, united, brightened, divided, and sunk again. Imagination could fancy them dissolving in the intensity of their own lustre. Where these had been, mimic vessels now appeared, of fleecy whiteness, sailing on the liquid gold. These melted next, and waves of clouds, rolling themselves together heap on heap, rose to mountains ranged across the west, and shutting out almost all its glories. Yet on their purple summits, there seemed to linger floating forms, still of vivid hues, though each moment losing something of their brightness, till, gradually, they became of a sombre grey, as, one by one, they clothed themselves in mist, and, blending with the deepening shadows, disappeared. The upper sky, however, was still streaked with alternate grey and gold, which the face of the water, faithfully as a mirror, reflected. The real mountains which surrounded the lake, and the little islands which lay slumbering on its surface, had become masses of an almost jetty black, and there was little light remaining any where, when a solitary row-boat put off from the opposite shore. As it crossed one of the illumined paths, which reflected from the sky still appeared on the water, the working of its oars was, for the moment, visible, together with the strongly defined form of one who, with folded arms, stood erect at its bow. Julia certainly saw, for the moment described, as we see with the mind’s eye what crosses us in thought, the boat, and the figure, for the appearance they made at the time afterwards floated on her memory. Yet she remained motionless.
“Whither art thou gone, fair spirit? In what cave Of the rock shall I find thee?”
It became dark, the usual hour for tea at Lodore-house approached. The drawing-room was lit for the purpose, the tea equipage placed, and, finally, the steaming urn brought in. Still there was no person in the room.
At length Frances entered. She looked round with some surprise. She approached the table, and touched lightly, with her taper finger, the side of the tea-pot. Finding it cold, she wondered that Julia had not made tea. She rang the bell, and desired that Lady Julia might be called. Alice was sent to Julia’s room. Julia was not there, but three notes were found, conspicuously placed, on her dressing table, one directed to her father, one to her grandmother, and one to her sister. They were all couched in gentle and affectionate terms. The attachment which had induced her to the present step, she said, had long subsisted. She had only waited to be of age. They should hear from her shortly, she added, when she should give them an address, by which she should get their letters, without their knowing where to find her; for that she meant to remain in concealment, till they had all pronounced her free pardon, were it for years!
This discovery produced the greatest consternation. What was to be done?—As a first step, Lord L. was sent for.
“He crosses the beam on the wave.”
… “The night Comes rolling down, the face of ocean fails, Cromla is dark, with all its silent woods.”
We left Julia seated on the shore of the lake. She had certainly seen, for one short moment, the boat with the figure standing in it, but had, it would seem, lost again the consciousness of what she had seen, in the deep reverie of her own thoughts.
She remained on the same spot, though the darkness thickened around her, till there was scarce a ray of even twilight left.
She was at length aroused, by hearing near her the splash of oars. Looking towards the sound, she could just discern close to the shore, a boat, its dark dimensions made visible by the comparative light of the water’s surface; while, at the same instant, the figure of a man, in a great cloak, which spread abroad like immense black wings, alit beside her, as if from the air. The effect was produced by the flying leap of one who, from the boat, by aid of a long pole, flung himself to land.
The next moment, Julia found herself lifted into the boat, and the next, the pole had forced the keel off the gravelly beach, and the oars were plying with an eagerness which defeated the intended purpose, for they rather glanced upon, than laid hold of the water, till a voice of thunder, with a sort of explosion, cursed the awkwardness of the rowers, and the plunges became heavier and more regular.
“But little the quiet to any ear, Of that night, or the sleep, to any eye.”
Lord L. now arrived at Lodore-house. The dreadful intelligence was given, the notes shewn. He was stunned, it was entirely incredible. He roused himself, and was incensed.
There could be no doubt that it was with Henry she had eloped, notwithstanding all her declarations of indifference towards him. These, it was now evident, had only been made to throw her friends off their guard, and gain time, till, by being of age, she was enabled to act in defiance of her father, without forfeiting her property.
While calling for his horses, he made some breathless inquiries among the servants.
No one had seen Lady Julia come in, since she had walked out immediately after dinner. Alice had attended on that occasion with her walking things. She declared that the notes were not on the table, when her young Lady went out, and that the drawers which were now open and empty were then shut; and that the jewel-box, which was now gone, was then in one of the drawers, which she had opened to take out a pair of gloves, and afterwards locked again. It would thence appear, that Julia, or some one entrusted by her with her keys, must have returned privately, previous to her final departure, and taken away such of her clothes, trinkets, &c., as she wished to carry with her.
Lord L. was now on horseback. Also Mr. Jackson, who, as usual on all emergencies, had been summoned.
“Within the cave of yonder hill.”
… “Monsters, Cumbrous as moving fortresses, draw near.”
The boat which had borne Julia from the vale of Borrowdale, now neared a very wild part of the further shore. One of the rowers grappling the bank with a boat-hook, the boat fell alongside the rocks. The person who seemed to command the others stood up, shook the immense folds of his cloak, lifted Julia to land, and holding her trembling arm firmly within his, hurried her up the rugged coast. They were soon in a narrow valley, resembling the chasm which it may be supposed the rending in twain of a mountain might form. The stranger whistled, and was answered by a similar sound, which seemed to proceed from within that portion of the mountain, which, its rough and shaggy face studded with jutting rocks, and hung with underwood, rose almost perpendicularly on their left.
On turning round one of the most considerable of those projections, a stream of light crossed the path a little way before them, though the source whence it came was not yet visible. They continued to approach the spot; and now a clanking of chains was heard, soon after which, they arrived at the entrance of a cavern, the interior of which was strongly illuminated by a large faggot fire.
Here a most extraordinary apparition presented itself. It was in the act of coming forward from a distant part of the cave. On reaching about its centre, it halted. It either was, or from the lowness of the roof and strangeness of the light, it appeared to be, of gigantic stature; the very shadow which it cast traversed the floor, and rose over the arched side, dilating and contracting as the blazes of the faggots moved; and throwing all behind it into the deepest gloom.
The appearance we are describing, did not owe its whole bulk to one object; but whether what seemed to be the principal being of the composite monster, was male or female, mortal or devil, it was not very easy to determine. It was seated upright, and in masculine fashion, on the back of a creature little removed from the living skeleton of a horse. It wore, what seemed to have been intended, more in mockery than in modesty, for a petticoat; which piece of feminine attire being, by the mode of sitting adopted by the rider, rendered of little avail, a considerable portion of sooty coloured but fleshy limbs were visible; while arms of a like description were planted, what is vulgarly termed a-kimbo. The countenance also partaking of the Ethiop’s hue, the blackened eyelids gave an additional glare to the impudent glee of the eye, and the sooty lips, spread by a grin indicative of coarse mirth, displayed teeth, to which contrast gave a dazzling whiteness; yet which served but to light up a thick-lipped mouth, the expression of which inspired a feeling of disgust it is impossible to define. The rest of the features, had a dauntless bearing, a certain fearlessness superadded to their shamelessness. This latter characteristic, indeed, pervaded the whole air of a figure, which was crowned by a mis-shapen and much abused man’s hat, worn on one side of the head. It happened to be that which was in shadow, while the brow on the side next to the burning faggots, the cheek on the same side, the chin, the swell also of the limbs, the folds of the petticoat; all, in short, which rounded or protruded, was so curiously bronzed by the golden glare of the fire-light, that the whole apparition had much the effect of a great equestrian metal cast, magically gifted with life; for the horse too, if horse it might be called, partook of the partial illumination.
The animal was large boned and stood high, whilst its heavy head hanging to its shrunken neck, nearly touched the ponderous hoof of the advanced fore-foot. It was blind of one eye, and dim from behind a filmy mist, gleamed the spark of life which still remained in the other. Its shoulders were galled, its knees broken, and its gaunt and extraordinary appearance completed by the uncommon accoutrement of weighty iron chains, which hung trailing on the ground on either side.
The thus unenviably mounted rider had paused, as has been already noticed, in the centre of the cave, when our heroine and her conductor presented themselves at its mouth. On their entering, a loud coarse laugh echoed round the vault, which through all its hoarseness and discordance, had just enough of the tones of a female voice, to insult every association on the subject of woman’s loveliness. Our equestrian, towards whom we fear we must in future use a feminine pronoun, kicked the creature on which she was mounted, with both the heels of her iron-shod wooden shoes. This appeared to be a signal well understood between the parties; for the wretched animal immediately commenced its operations by lifting one of its heavy hinder feet, placing it on the shaggy fetlock of one of the fore ones, and stumbling.
“Dang thee, thoo deevil!” she exclaimed, pulling him up by a bridle of rope, which served, on occasion, the double purpose of whip, never being required but about the neck and shoulders, the above noticed method with the heels, serving to enliven the hinder parts.
In a voice of thunder, the ruffian, who still held Julia’s arm fast within the folds of his cloak, uttered the monosyllable, “Stop!” He was obeyed, and now received from the hands of his mounted assistant, a parcel, containing a bonnet and cloak of the commonest description. These he commanded Julia to put on; and roughly assisting in removing those she had worn for her evening walk, he flung them into the fire, where they were quickly consumed.
During the moment that intervened between the taking off one muffle, and the close wrapping of her form in the other, a painter might have found a striking subject in the uncongeniality with the surrounding scene, and contrast with the fierce and coarse actors in it, of Julia’s entire appearance. The youthful grace of her figure, simply but elegantly dressed, in that most becoming of all costumes—a summer evening home half-dress of soft white muslin; while the noble as well as lovely countenance, the fair throat, the beautiful hair, were also (by the temporary removal of the bonnet as well as cloak) fully displayed. Another moment, and our heroine’s coarse disguise had converted the gentle vision into the similitude of a market-woman, or farmer’s servant. Her terrific waiting-man, who had stood in the stead of waiting-maid, on the completion of her metamorphosis, lifted her from the ground, and placed her on the shoulders of the horse, where, immediately, the rough sooty arm of the rider, with the muscles of a blacksmith, and the flesh of a woman, was wrapped tightly round her waist.
Meanwhile the two fellows who had rowed the boat entered. The glare of light which now fell on their faces and figures, shewed them to be of the same tribe of savages to which belonged the woman already described. The chief distinction was, that they wore not the sole female attribute displayed by her, the petticoat. The covering substituted by them consisting of a scanty species of soot-coloured shirt and drawers, leathern aprons, and a quantity of jet black dust. Their sinewy arms were bare, the shirt-sleeve being pushed up to the shoulder, while the front part of the same garment hung loosely open down to the girdle, exhibiting an abundant growth of such covering as nature sometimes bestows on bipeds of this description, in common with the four-footed race. Beards of unchecked luxuriance covered their chins and upper lips, bushy whiskers met the beards, and the long, wild, disorderly hair of the heads, crowning all, left little that could be called face. That little was either black or blackened, and gave to the eyes, as they reflected back the fire-light, something of the appearance already remarked in those of the female: in point of expression, however, theirs, instead of the gleeful leer of unshrinking impudence which characterized her’s, had the quick pursuing flash of ferocity.
“All right?” demanded the mysterious stranger, as they appeared. “Awe right!” they replied, and passed on, till their figures were lost in the darkness which veiled the distant part of the cave. From thence a clanking of chains was soon heard, and shortly after the savage forms re-appeared; but now mounted on animals so like the one already described, that an enumeration of their points would be unnecessary. One of the fellows also led a horse of a rather better description, which the commander of the party took from him, and mounted. The cavalcade now quitted the cavern.
“Wherefore comest thou, lovely maid, I said, Over rocks, over mountains, why art thou On the desert hill, why on the heath alone?”
Julia and her conductors proceeded at a quicker pace than the first appearance of their horses promised. Their way lay over a ridge of mountains; both the ascent and descent were rugged and dangerous in the extreme, and occupied some hours. At length Julia became sensible that they were crossing a wide common.
She looked anxiously round for some human habitation, but could discover nothing indicative of cultivation or of life, except that almost at the verge of the horizon, as well as at a considerable distance from each other, she descried three great fires, close to each of which arose a single round tower, with a large mound beside it. Gradually, the party seemed to be approaching nearer and nearer to one of these towers. Julia could at length distinguish dark figures, moving between her sight and the light of the fire, which light had from the first rendered the tower a conspicuous object. She felt a slight sensation of hope revive within her, but determined to make no attempt to call for assistance, till certain that she was near enough to be heard, lest her cries should be forcibly stifled as they had been at first. They now arrived close to the tower and fire. Figures (but alas! too like those in whose hands she already was,) moved on the top of the mound, around a circle which yet none seemed to enter. Slight as was the hope which the sight of such beings could inspire, Julia now cried for help. The figures on the mound immediately whirled their caps in the air, huzzaed, and as the wild sound died away, broke into brutal laughter.
Julia became instantly silent as death. Her principal conductor dismounting, lifted her from the horse, and taking a firm grasp of her arm, dragged her up the mound. It seemed formed of some loose material, which gave way under her feet, and brought her to her knees more than once.
Arrived at the top, Julia perceived that she stood on the edge of a circular opening or pit, which, from the dark vacuum that met the eye, appeared bottomless. She shrunk back, and clung, as if for protection, even to the ruffian who had led her to its verge.
At this moment, a huge dark object passed through the air over their heads with a swinging motion, and then descended over the mouth of the pit. It was a black formless machine, hollow within, and suspended from above by chains. The stranger lifted Julia from her feet, placed her in it, then stepped in himself, and it instantly began to descend. He stood firmly and still held her arm, that, as she too was obliged to stand, she might not by the motion lose her balance. With an involuntary impulse of terror, she looked over the side of the machine; all below was darkness. With a despairing gaze she raised her eyes, and fixed them on the round aperture above. It appeared to lessen every moment, while the voices of those they had left on the brink grew fainter and fainter. They continued descending, and at length, a confused hum arose from below. They descended still, and gradually, the mingled din increased both in loudness and distinctness, till the clanking of chains and strokes of hammers could be distinguished, through shrieks, yells, and coarse wild laughter.
Still they descended, and now, in his usual voice of thunder, Julia’s companion uttered a strange halloo, which bellowed fearfully in the narrow void to which its echoes were confined. It seemed to be a summons to hitherto invisible beings, for immediately, a glare of unnatural light appeared below, and, moving through it, fiend-like forms as black as ebony.
They received and steadied the machine as it rested on the ground, and then, on beholding what were its contents, set up loud laughter, accompanied by huzzas. The stranger looked fiercely at them, which seemed a little to check their mirth. Julia, instead of closing her eyes or fainting, was for the moment roused by despair, to a peculiarly vivid reception of surrounding impressions. And strange were the sights that met her gaze. The most fearfully gloomy vaults spread on every side; their low roofs, sustained by immense pillars of shining jet. The flooring, the walls, the roofing, every where of the same material. Long low aisles or passages, branching of in various directions, some lost in total darkness; in others, the view terminated by a far perspective, dimly illuminated, and filled with moving shadowy forms, the black countenances invisible through the obscurity, while the numberless eyes, that seemed scintillations from the unearthly lights the place afforded, were scattered over the gloomy region, like stars in the dark vault of midnight. To complete the wild effect of the whole scene, these terrific beings were all busily employed excavating on every side, as if to increase the dimensions of their infernal realm.
“More fire than lustre had his eye, his form Less grace than grandeur.”
“Why am I summoned here, to mix with thine My secret words, within the horrid cave Of Moma?”
Near one of the entrances to ⸺haven, the chimneys and slating of a miserable looking row of houses, appear quite at the feet of the traveller; consequently, on a level with the road which runs along the brow of the hill, in the side of which the backs of the houses are sunk, while their faces front the valley.
About an hour after the conclusion of the events related in our last chapter, but still before day-break, a horseman approached at a rapid pace along the road just described. He turned the animal suddenly down a narrow rugged abrupt descent, which brought him immediately in front of the said row of houses.
The rider stopped, and, loosing his foot from the stirrup at the side nearest the miserable dwelling, close to which his horse now stood, kicked the door. It opened, and a figure appeared, the outlines of which, as shewn by the light from behind, were easily to be recognised, as those of the female equestrian. From the length of time, however, which has elapsed, it may not be quite so easy to trace in her that bold strolling thief and beggar, whom we have seen in the very first chapter of this history, treat poor Edmund so cruelly. Yet she is the same individual. By origin she was, what in Cumberland is called, a bottom lass; the most opprobrious of terms, meaning one of those creatures, found to swarm in that region of darkness, denominated, in the country of which we speak, “the bottom.” Creatures who, if they can claim a mother for the first few weeks after their birth, rarely can a father.
We are not aware that the profligate being whose history we are thus tracing back, was ever christened; yet, in some way or other, she had obtained the appellation of Jin of the Gins.
Jin, notwithstanding her lack of noble birth, happened to possess, in extreme youth, some natural beauty; and by that circumstance was promoted, at the early age of seventeen, to the rank of nominal wife to a travelling tinker. With him, for a few years, she travelled, begged, pilfered, and drank.
During this period it was that Edmund had, for the sake of his fine clothes, become her prey. Shortly after having abandoned him, she was caught in the act of achieving a more than usually daring robbery, for which she must have been hung, had she not escaped from the magistrates before she could be committed to the county jail. On this occasion she returned, at about three and twenty, to her old asylum, the bottom; where, shrouded in coal-dust and darkness, she has, up to the present period, which brings her to about the age of three or four and forty, laboured at bottom-work in the bowels of the earth, and often beneath the bed of the ocean, amid hundreds of her own description.
To account for the equestrian prowess of Jin of the Gins, we must here remark, that near to ⸺haven, and not far from the row of houses just described, there is a broad covered way, leading down to the works by a descent so gradual, that horses, cars, and even waggons can enter by it; while daily may be seen emerging from it troops of colliers, mounted on such animals as in a late chapter we have described, accoutred too with chains which, like the traces of a just-loosed carriage-horse, trail on either side, ready to hook to cars, waggons, &c.
But to return to the scene which was just commencing. The rider, in answer to whose summons we left Jin in the act of opening the door, on the threshold of which she now stood, accosted her thus, “Well, Jin of the Gins, how is it with you?”
“Nane the bether for yeer axin,” she retorted.
“Is Sir Sydney come?” continued the querist.
“Comed!” she repeated, “Aye, and maire nor him.”
Our traveller threw his bridle to the gentle groom, whistled, advanced a foot over the threshold, and paused in the act, till he heard an answering whistle from within. He then proceeded, and entering a miserably small earthen-floored apartment, on the side of the passage, stood before Julia’s late conductor. This mysterious personage was still wrapped in his boat cloak. He sat leaning on a little rickety round table, whereon was placed a lantern which suffered but little of the light it contained to escape, having, in place of glass, sides of rusty tin, perforated with small holes like those of a colander.
“You have secured her, then?” said the traveller, as he entered.
“Where is Lord L.?” inquired the stranger, without rising or noticing the question put to him.
“Pursuing on a wrong track,” replied the traveller.
“Have you brought the title-deeds?” demanded the stranger, in a tone that few would have liked to have answered with a negative. The traveller unbuttoned his great coat and took off his hat. It was Henry!
“I have,” he replied, after a moment of hesitation, and slowly undoing a button or two of the inner coat.
“Give them to me, then!” said the stranger fiercely.
Henry drew a parcel of parchments halfway from his breast, then paused.
“What do you hesitate about, Sir?” said the stranger.
“I do not mean,” commenced Henry, “to sell the Craigs at present.”
“What of that?” said the stranger.
“You shall have the half of the rents,” continued Henry, in an expostulating tone, “and when, at Lord L.’s death, she inherits her proportion of his estates, then the Scotch acres may go to the hammer, and you shall have the whole of the money they bring.”
The stranger, while with his eyes fixed on the face of the speaker, he listened, had been slowly extracting a brace of pistols from his pockets, and laying them on the table.
“And pray what security have I for all this unless the title-deeds are in my own possession?” he demanded scornfully, and with affected coolness. Then, with a sudden yell of rage, resembling the neigh of a wild horse, and grinning in a terrific manner, he vociferated, “Lay down the parchments, Sir!” striking the table as he spoke so violently with his clenched hand, that the lantern spun round like a child’s top; and one of the pistols leaping to the ground, went off.
Henry took the packet from his breast, and laid it down in silence.
The stranger drew it towards him, unfolded it, and corrected its tendency to relapse into its former folds, by laying his pistols on either margin, picking up for the purpose the one which had fallen. He then proceeded to open the door of the lantern, whence poured a powerful but partial light on the writings, and on his own countenance, as he bent over them in the act of examining their contents. A fur travelling cap, with a band tight to the forehead, displayed, fully, features of terrific strength, and which, at the same time, presented a horrible sort of caricature of manly beauty, distorted almost to wildness by the habitual exaggeration of every desperate feeling. The scrutiny of the documents occupied some time, during the whole of which Henry stood, and was silent. The stranger having completed his task, refolded the parchments, and placed them in his breast; then, closing the lantern, and restoring thus the scene of conference to its former state of twilight, he re-charged the pistol, which had gone off in its fall, placing it with its companion in his pockets, and while doing so, said in a somewhat pacified tone: “These deeds will not enable me to sell the estate without your concurrence; though, their being in my hands, will secure me against your doing so without mine. I shall be perfectly satisfied, at present, with half the rents; but, that I may have no doubt or difficulty in receiving the said moiety, you must, as soon as the marriage shall be proved——.”
“Have you procured witnesses?” interrupted Henry.
“I have: they are to meet us at ⸺.”
“Will they swear direct, that the ceremony was performed without unwillingness on her part, or compulsion on ours?”
“Certainly! What else are they paid for?”
“And that will be sufficient?”
“Together with the certificate of the clergyman and clerk.”
“The clergyman is my old chum—of course?” said Henry. “He would, I know, have no scruples, were she gagged and handcuffed at the altar!”
“Of course not,” replied the stranger. “But, to return to my subject: As soon as the marriage shall have been proved, so as to entitle you to a legal controul over the property, you must employ a proper agent, give him sufficient powers and directions, to one-half of each year’s rent to an address through which I can receive it without reference to you, and the other half to an address by which you can receive it, without making your actual residence known (that is, should concealment long continue necessary). Have you any hope of reconciling Julia herself?”
“Not the slightest!” returned Henry. “When, indeed, she has been my wife,” he continued, “long enough to be, perhaps, a mother, she may not choose the publicity of a trial. Indeed, by that time, neither my aunt, nor even Lord L. himself, could wish, I should think, to go to extremities with so near a relation: even were the whole truth to come out. In short, it could answer no desirable purpose! Lord L. must know that his daughter would be more respectable in the eyes of the world as my wife, and supposed to be willingly so, than by seeking any redress the law could then give her, were it even possible to procure full evidence that the marriage was compulsory, which I expect we shall render impossible: so that I have no fears on that score. The three notes this evening (for I left my fellow behind on pretext of bringing my luggage) passed examination. I shall, therefore, have no difficulty, while abroad, in keeping up a regular correspondence in her name with all her friends. In short, when the numberless circumstances, however trivial in themselves, which I have now for so long caused to bear on the one point, receive this last crowning evidence, there will not remain the shadow of a doubt on the mind of any one, that Julia has only waited to be of age to elope with me. I expect, in fact, that the conviction on the mind of every one will be so strong, that they will not think it necessary to examine into any thing; and that one-half the precautions we have taken will prove quite unnecessary. It is not at all unlikely, too, that after a time she may, for the sake of being permitted to return to this country, and reside near her friends, consent to declare, personally, I mean, to her own family, that she married me willingly; in which case, we could take up our residence at the Craigs.”
“In short,” continued Henry, “once she is in my power, I can compel her to do any thing! How is she to help herself I’d be glad to know?”
“Fitz-Ullin is expected in the Sound, I find,” said the stranger, “what a confounded untimely blow that old beldam’s confession was! By the bye, I shall expect to be repaid the sums I have been obliged to give Jin of the Gins, to keep her silent till after your marriage; and now that she has been forestalled, (which was always what she feared,) and can never get any thing from either party, her demands for compensation will be exorbitant. Those, however, you must satisfy, now that you will have funds.”
“How long is it now,” said Henry, “since she first consulted you on the possibility of making a market of her secret, without getting hanged.”
“A few weeks,” replied the stranger, “previous to that cursed masquerade at Arandale, when I wrote to you on the subject of the admission ticket.”
“That then was the first intimation you had,” said Henry, musing. “Had it not been,” he added, after a short silence, “for the fortunate chance of Ormond shooting himself, all must certainly have been lost.”
“There was too much left to chance in that business,” retorted the stranger. “That night at Arandale should have rid us of all anxiety on the subject. I ought to have answered his first question by blowing out his brains! And that, before I palsied my arm with that cursed fencing! Never, certainly, were there time and place so well calculated for committing an act of the kind with perfect impunity. Since then, it has never been possible to get near him, with any thing like a chance of escape. I deserved, however, to fail for using such pitiful half measures, where so much was at stake.”
“I never thought his removal so very necessary,” observed Henry.
“Fool!” replied the stranger, “How, if the public disclosure had been made under almost any other circumstances? When can you come to ⸺?” he added.
“I must first,” replied Henry, “join the Euphrasia, to avoid, in case of failure, any thing like proof against me. It is impossible for her to have the most remote guess who you are, so that were she even to escape, while she had not yet seen me, all would still be safe! In short, we had better not meet even for a moment, till we meet at the altar.”
The stranger paused, as if considering the subject; then, standing up, said, “True! you set out immediately.”
Henry replied in the affirmative; and thus they parted.
“The semblance spoke; but how faint was the voice, Like the breeze in the reeds of the pool!”
When Julia began to recover sensation, she found herself in a reclining position, while the object on which her eyes first opened, appeared to her bewildered imagination, to be the mast of the boat in which she had so lately sat. And, indeed, the wreck of what had once been a bed, on which she now lay, having neither curtains nor top, the one naked foot-post which remained standing was not very unlike the single mast of a small boat. The apartment was without other furniture. The ceiling, or rather roofing, consisted of the inside of the slating, which descending obliquely from the opposite wall, passed close over Julia’s face, and met the floor just behind her head. In the centre of the floor, which was laden with straw and dust, was an open trap door with the head of a ladder appearing a foot or two above it, while on one corner or shaft of the said head of the ladder, hung a lantern, the only source of light the apartment could boast.
The first sounds that blended themselves with the returning perceptions of our heroine, were those of a soft, and she thought, well known voice, repeating in a tone, the most heart-broken, “Poor child! poor child!” She withdrew her eyes from the contemplation of the bed, and thought she beheld Mrs. Montgomery leaning over her. But when her ideas and her sense of sight both became a little clearer, she perceived that the figure she thus beheld, was not only that of a stranger, but of a being which, now that it ceased to move, scarcely seemed to live, the shadow only of a human form. Yet did the countenance possess a power over Julia like that of a spell, she could not withdraw her gaze from it. The hollow cheek, the large prominent eye, with hopelessness for its sole expression, the colourless lip, the perfectly white hair, the small and still delicate, while emaciated throat, formed a picture, which could not be contemplated without extreme pain.
Julia half raising herself, exclaimed, “Where am I? where am I? oh, where am I?” each time with increasing earnestness. Her companion was silent. “Tell me, tell me, where I am!” No reply. Again she repeated her inquiries, her voice and manner becoming wild with anxiety and dread.
A sudden, loud, and undefinable sound, accompanied by a pistol shot, was heard from below. The hitherto motionless form of the silent vision shuddered universally. The faint tinge of life which was stealing over the cheek of Julia fled.
“The rending of the heart’s last cord Was in that sound!”
“Young, as spring’s first opening rose bud lovely And helpless as autumn’s last; blooming alone On a leafless stalk, bent beneath the shower, And trembling in the wintry blast.”
The Euphrasia, according to the expectation announced in the papers, arrived in Plymouth Sound. She had on board a number of prisoners, taken out of two prizes she had lately captured, but which had been so much disabled, that it had been impossible to prevent their going to the bottom. Lady Oswald, who had taken up her residence at Stonehouse for the purpose of being near a great sea-port, and having thus opportunities of sometimes seeing her son, on understanding that the vessel was out in the Sound, but was to sail again immediately, went on board in a shore boat.
Fitz-Ullin had communicated with the Admiral, and had received orders (all the prison-ships being full) to proceed to Leith, and dispose of his prisoners there.
Lady Oswald had been long wishing to visit Scotland for the purpose of making enquiries respecting the property which she thought ought to be her son’s. Dread of the expenses of the journey, and the want of any friend to assist her in an undertaking almost hopeless, had hitherto delayed her project. This was, therefore, just the thing for her; she could now go to Edinburgh free of expense, and in the society of her best friend; that nephew, whose liberality was the sole support both of herself and her son. Her son too would thus be with her. Such an opportunity was not to be lost! Her wishes were of course acceded to by Fitz-Ullin, and a ship’s boat sent ashore for her maid, and such apparel as might be necessary for the voyage. In a few hours the Euphrasia sailed. That night, a little before twelve, she fell in with a kind of armed smuggler, evidently bound for the coast of France. The smuggler refused to come to, or answer signals, and even attempted to make sail; a temerity which obliged the frigate to fire on a little vessel, that should have suffered herself to have been captured without making any resistance.
A few carronades, of course, overwhelmed the smuggler. Her crew immediately took to their boats, which they had lowered down on the first alarm.
As the thunder of the frigate’s guns had subsided, all sound concluded in the last faint reverberation of a cry of distress, from apparently a single female voice, on board the else forsaken vessel. The smuggler was already, to all appearance, on fire at one end. Fitz-Ullin perceiving this, and hearing or fancying the cry, obeyed an involuntary impulse, and leaped into one of the boats manning to pursue the fugitives, and ordered it alongside the burning vessel.
“They have not boats enough for all,” he said, “and have left some wretches behind to perish.” The next moment he was on board, followed but by a couple of sailors, who were bold enough not to be deterred by the volumes of portentous smoke. Assisted by these two men, he searched the upper deck, calling out frequently that there was a boat alongside. No one answered, the smuggler seemed wholly deserted, and the sailors urged the necessity of returning to the boat. Fitz-Ullin bid them do so, but not feeling quite satisfied while they were getting over the side he ran below. To his infinite surprise the door of the cabin was fast. He forced it. All was darkness, though the fire was increasing rapidly at the other end of the ship.
Something that lay on the cabin floor impeded the opening of the door. He stooped, and found it to be the body of one, apparently lifeless, for there was neither breath nor motion. He raised it: from the dress and its lightness, it seemed that of a very young lad. Life, however, might be but suspended, not extinct; he determined therefore to convey the unconscious object of his charitable solicitude, into the boat. The fire was fast approaching, and the smoke, in consequence, becoming suffocating. Fitz-Ullin hurried on deck, carrying the body with him: while cautiously descending to the boat in waiting, he fancied he could feel a scarcely perceptible heaving motion, swell the bosom of his hitherto lifeless burden, as though it were beginning to breathe. Arrived in the boat, he laid the body with great care, partly on the bench beside him, supporting the shoulders and head across his knees; and, intending to chafe the temples, drew off a tight cloth cap, such as cabin boys wear; when, a profusion of long hair, which, but for its fairness, had not been discernible, so dark was the night, fell over his arm. Almost at the same moment, the flames of the burning vessel which had hitherto been darting singly through volleys of thick smoke, burst into an universal blaze! and, in its fierce glare, the mild features and sparkling hair of Julia, lay displayed before the astonished Fitz-Ullin, her head resting on his arm! The news of her having been carried off from Lodore had not reached him, so that his amazement was complete. To say he could not speak, would be but imperfectly to describe him; he could not think! if he had any idea, it was an undefined one, that he either dreamed or was deranged. Julia’s eyes opened. For a few moments, they had no speculation in them: she looked stedfastly in his face. Then her features lit up suddenly, with a wildness of joy, of fear, and of confidence, so strangely blended, that it was almost like insanity. She caught at the hand that supported her with both of hers, clung to it, and, with the most piteous earnestness of entreaty, cried, “What is it? What is it? Oh, what is it all?”
He tried in the gentlest manner, both to calm her excessive agitation, and to make her understand that she had been just taken out of the burning vessel they were now leaving behind them, pointing towards it, as he spoke. She looked at it, first with little visible perception of what it meant; then, covering her eyes a moment, she seemed to think; then, starting, and looking all around, she said, “But where is she? Did she not come out of it too?” Fitz-Ullin explained to her, that the vessel was evidently deserted by every one else, when he found her locked up in the cabin. “She was in the cabin with me!” said Julia, with alarming wildness of manner; then, clasping her hands, she cried vehemently, “Come back for her! Come back for her! oh, come back!”
Fitz-Ullin, for reply, pointed again to the mass of devouring flames which floated on the water, enlightening its dark surface to a considerable distance. Julia involuntarily stretched her arms over the side of the boat, towards the terrific object, as though she could thus assist, and remained fixed in an agony of helpless horror, unconscious of her own attitude, rendered peculiarly conspicuous by the powerful light which necessarily fell on her uplifted countenance, and the palms, and points of the fingers of her outstretched hands; whilst her figure, in the dark boat-cloak in which Fitz-Ullin had wrapped it, was lost to view.
In a few seconds, the condensed body of fire, with an explosion like thunder, parted in ten thousand pieces, each and all, resembling so many flaming torches, flew upwards, and passing each other through the dark atmosphere in circling arches, descended again to the surface of the water, gleamed there half a moment, and became extinct. Pitchy darkness succeeded to the unnatural glare, which had lit up the scene but a moment before, for no vestige of the conflagration remained.
Poor Julia fortunately found, for her horror-stricken and terrified feelings, the only relief of which they were susceptible, in a passion of tears, as profusely shed as those of a child.
She clung to Fitz-Ullin with an alarming convulsiveness of grasp. In his endeavours to sooth and calm her, and the bewilderment of his exaggerated fears, for the possible consequences of the state in which she was, he, from time to time, addressed to her incoherently, all the endearing expressions he had habitually used towards her in her childhood, calling her, in low breathings that no other ear could hear, his own beloved one, his own darling Julia, his own precious one, thus as it were enforcing each entreaty to her, to check the excessive trembling to which she had given way, and which, as it seemed rather to increase than diminish, alarmed him so much, that the arm with which it was necessary to support her, drew her, as each verbal persuasion to still her tremor failed, closer to the bosom in which she herself seemed to seek a shelter; while she, unknowing what she did, pressed his hand with both of hers to her heart, still beating tumultuously from the horrors of the scarcely past scene, and her sobs, for the few seconds it still took to reach the ship, continued audible and convulsive.
A scene of so much emotion was, fortunately, shrouded by the total darkness that prevailed.
Fitz-Ullin carried her himself up the side of the Euphrasia, and to the cabin of Lady Oswald; where, with the assistance of that lady and her maid, he laid her on a sofa, still wrapped in the already mentioned boat-cloak.
The consciousness of light and witnesses calmed in some degree her agitation, or at least checked those demonstrations of it into which she had hitherto been betrayed. She became passive, and lay, for a time, motionless and silent, with her eyes closed. Fitz-Ullin knelt beside her, and watched her countenance with an expression of the most serious solicitude. Lady Oswald, after the first stare of amazement, offered every kind attention in assiduous silence; only from time to time looking the wonder which would have been expressed on any occasion less surprising: so that our heroine was received, to all appearance, with as much composure as though she had been expected. She shewed tokens of life, only by gently waving from her every offered restorative. She wished for stillness; she wished to yield to a consolatory feeling which had already, notwithstanding all the horrors she had so lately both witnessed and escaped, stolen over her heart; for who can, under any circumstances, receive proofs of affection from those they love, and not experience consolation? She felt that she was still dear to Fitz-Ullin; and though, apparently, scarcely alive, became capable of a train of reasoning on the subject. Her friendship, then, was not, as she had feared, valueless in his eyes! The brother-like affection he had always had for her was regaining its ascendancy. As a sister, she should once more become the first object of his tenderness, the source of his happiness, and she would be happy—yet she sighed. Lady Oswald seized the opportunity of entreating her to take some restorative. She was obliged to open her eyes, obliged to raise herself, and in so doing, to withdraw the hand Fitz-Ullin had till then retained. He stood up, assisted Lady Oswald, and spoke to her ladyship, which he had not done before. The spell was broken! Julia spoke too; she thanked Lady Oswald languidly. She had no leisure to be surprised in her turn, at seeing her ladyship where she was. She tried to express to our hero her gratitude for her preservation. He begged she would not speak of his merely accidental service; requesting her to remember, that he could not be aware to whom he was rendering his assistance, whether welcome or unwelcome.
“Unwelcome!” she repeated. He had spoken with unnecessary strength of emphasis. Even Lady Oswald looked surprised.
A short silence followed; when Julia, again raising herself, began to express uneasiness about the fears and anxiety of her friends at Lodore; giving at the same time a hurried and incoherent account of how she had been carried away from thence. Lady Oswald naturally expressed her wonder, as to who could have been the author of so daring an outrage.
Julia, looking down, said, she herself was at a loss whom to suspect. She would have added, that the only person to whom she could have attributed such an outrage, she had not once seen, or heard of, during the whole transaction; and that, therefore, it was that she was at a loss. But a natural feeling of modesty made her hesitate and blush. Fitz-Ullin viewed her with a searching look, which gave her uneasiness, though she could not comprehend its meaning. There was severity in his eye when he first fixed it upon her; yet, there was pity ere he removed it. During her whole recital, the gloom of his brow had deepened every moment; yet he did not express the deep resentment that might have been expected against the perpetrators of such a violence. At one time, after a long reverie, he made a very irrelevant remark: observing, that Mr. St. Aubin had been to blame, in not joining before the Euphrasia sailed; for that his being too late, could not have been accidental.
“Nay, frown not thus on me.”
At breakfast Fitz-Ullin joined the ladies. The gravity of his countenance and solemnity of his manner were almost austere.
During breakfast he silently placed whatever seemed desirable near Julia, but scarcely spoke, except to answer Lady Oswald’s questions.
After breakfast he said, with some formality, that he was extremely sorry the rules of the service would not admit of his altering his course on private business; as this placed it out of his power to offer to land Lady Julia L., he therefore feared, he added, that her Ladyship would be under the necessity of proceeding to Leith. How unlike the whispers of last night!
He next spoke of the fortunate chance of Lady Oswald’s being in the ship; and finally it was arranged, that Julia should remain in Edinburgh with Lady Oswald, till Lord L. should be apprised of her being there, and come for her. Fitz-Ullin now left them.
“My dear Lady Julia L.,” said Lady Oswald, “I am going to ask a very extraordinary question; but do tell me candidly, have you rejected the addresses of Fitz-Ullin?” Julia looked at her ladyship with unfeigned astonishment. “Because,” continued Lady Oswald, “his manner is so much that of a refused lover, too proud to urge his suit, yet unable to conquer his attachment; and, if such be the case, I would so ardently, so anxiously, plead his cause. I would enumerate his virtues; nay, I would expose my own and my son’s necessities to prove the nobleness of his heart, and to obtain, if possible, happiness for one so willing to impart the precious gift to others.”
“The happiness of him of whom you speak, Lady Oswald,” replied Julia, suppressing a sigh, “is not in my hands.” Then recovering herself, she added, with forced firmness, “From our childhood we have regarded each other as brother and sister, and this habit may still tincture our manners with a something which, to those unacquainted with, or not recollecting the peculiar circumstances may seem—may appear—particular. But, as a lover, Lord Fitz-Ullin has never addressed me.”
“Then most assuredly he will!” said Lady Oswald. Julia blushed and smiled; the very sound of the words was welcome to her, while reason was compelled to reject their meaning. “You have, you say,” continued Lady Oswald, “the affection of a sister for Fitz-Ullin. If you entertain a tenderer sentiment for any other being, I have no right to inquire further; but if you do not, my dear Lady Julia, make me happy by saying so!”
“Pray then be quite happy,” said Julia, affecting to laugh; “and now let us recur no more to this foolish subject.”
Lady Oswald fell into a reverie. She was inclined to think, notwithstanding the altered manners of the one, and the contradictory assertions of the other, that a mutual attachment did subsist between them; though at present interrupted by some misunderstanding; and having arrived at this conclusion, she resolved, if possible, to become instrumental to their happiness by bringing about an explanation. A message at this moment very opportunely came from Fitz-Ullin, to say that the day was tolerably fine, and to beg to know if the ladies would take a walk on deck. They consented; and our hero came for them, bringing with him a young lieutenant, by name Lord Surrel, and son to the Duke of ⸺. Fitz-Ullin offered his arm to Lady Oswald, leaving the care of our heroine to Surrel.
Julia was absent and silent, and not even conscious of the animated and delighted admiration with which she as instantly as unintentionally inspired her companion. At length the conversation took a turn, which drew something more of her attention.
“How much Fitz-Ullin feels the loss of his friend, Captain Ormond,” observed Surrel, struck by the seriousness of our hero’s countenance as they passed and repassed him and Lady Oswald.
“The circumstances were, I understand, very melancholy and very remarkable,” faltered out Julia, in reply.
“Very much so, indeed!” rejoined Surrel. “You have heard all the particulars, I suppose?”
“From no better authority than the newspapers,” she answered. “It was not possible to enter on so painful a subject with Lord Fitz-Ullin. Even Lady Oswald tells me she has not yet ventured to speak to him of his unfortunate friend.”
“It was certainly the loss of his sister which first unsettled the mind of Captain Ormond,” said Surrel. “Circumstanced as they were, there was something very dreadful in her death; it was so evidently occasioned by that unfortunate attachment, which had, I fancy, become uncontrollable, before they were made aware of their near relationship.”
“Miss Ormond’s illness,” observed Julia, “Lady Oswald tells me, was decline, brought on by a broken heart. Did you know Captain Ormond?”
“Oh, very well indeed!” replied Surrel; “I was his first lieutenant during all the extraordinary circumstances which preceded his death. You are aware that he died quite mad, poor fellow?”
“So the papers said,” she replied.
“When he first heard of the death of his sister,” continued Surrel, we were laying off the coast of * * * *; I was standing with him on the quarter-deck the morning he received the letter, which, we suppose, brought the intelligence. He did not open it, however, at the time, but ordered his boat and went ashore, where, after commanding the crew to wait for him on the beach, he wandered up the country among the woods, and was not heard of for several days. At length, when we were beginning to fear that some fatal accident must have befallen him, he came one morning on board in a shore-boat, and without noticing his prolonged absence, gave some common orders. For a time there was no visible change, except a more settled gloom of manner. Gradually, however, his looks assumed an alarming wildness, his orders became inconsistent and arbitrary, and from having been the mildest and a most indulgent of commanders, he became quite tyrant. On one occasion when I ventured to remonstrate in favour of a poor fellow whom, without the slightest reason, he had ordered to be flogged, he commanded the marines to fire on me, saying, that he would give me, while he walked the deck three times, to prepare myself. Fortunately, before he had twice walked the deck, he totally forgot the whole business, sat down on one of the cannonade slides, wrung his hands, and wept like a child! We all stole away unperceived. While we were at dinner, however, one of the youngsters ran down and told us that the captain was walking the deck, carrying a hanger in his hand, and looking very furious. While we were hesitating about what was best to be done, we heard a tremendous noise in the captain’s cabin, and hastening thither, found poor Ormond with scarcely any covering, and in the very act of flinging himself from the open window, from which he had just thrown both the clothes he had had on, and all else which was moveable. We were now obliged to use force. The resistance he made, poor fellow, was terrible. He was carried on shore, where, in a few days, he died raging mad!
“Only think,” he added, “of the Admiral at * * * *, having me tried by a court martial for what he termed my insubordination; but he was a man incapable, in fact, from long habit, of comprehending the simplest elements of natural justice, and who could form no idea of any rule of right, distinct from the rules of the service. So, I was to allow a man who was mad, to flog an innocent man to death, shoot me, and fling himself out of the cabin window, merely because he was my superior officer!”
Lady Oswald, meanwhile, intent on the execution of her kindly project, made some comments to her companion on his sadness, with pauses between, hoping that he would volunteer in making her his confidant (for they walked quite apart from Julia and Surrel). But Fitz-Ullin only feared she must find it cold, or made some irrelevant remark; in short, did not take her ladyship’s hints. She determined, therefore, to put the question in a direct form; and as a preparatory remark, said, “I can see, Fitz-Ullin, that you are seriously attached to Lady Julia L.”
Fitz-Ullin reddened to the very brows; but did not seem to have any answer composed; for he remained silent, and her Ladyship continued: “You have some delicacy, some prejudice, some secret reason, which prevents your urging your own wishes. Let me know all, place the business in my hands; and, I think, I shall be able to make you both (with a smile, and a peculiar emphasis on the word ‘both’) happier than you are at present.”
“Lady Oswald,” replied Fitz-Ullin solemnly, and at the same time colouring still more deeply, “whatever my feelings are, or rather, have been, I neither intend to seek, nor wish to obtain, Lady Julia L.’s acceptance of my hand.”
“Nor wish to obtain!” repeated Lady Oswald.
“As a mark, therefore,” continued Fitz-Ullin, “of your kind regard for me, I must request that you will never again recur to this subject.”
“But why, my dear Fitz-Ullin, why not accept at least the assistance of my judgment ere you condemn yourself to any uneasiness of mind; for, happy you certainly are not.”
“Impossible!” said Fitz-Ullin, “I cannot! I must not! I have no right!”
“I certainly have no right to be officious,” said Lady Oswald; “but I do confess, I wish to see you happy, and I do think you would not be refused.” He smiled bitterly. “But if you really do not wish to be accepted—why—I have done,” continued her Ladyship.
He quickened his pace: then slackened it; then, discovering that it was quite too cold for the ladies, abruptly put an end to the walk.
Lady Oswald, after this conversation, thought it a necessary point of delicacy, when in company with Julia, to recur no more to the subject of her nephew.
This morning the Euphrasia fell in with a small trader, which, though bound for a port they had left behind, and having no accommodation suited for ladies, could carry a letter that, by being put into the post that evening, would probably reach Lord L. some time before the arrival of the Euphrasia at Leith, and perhaps enable him to meet his daughter there. At any rate, it would shorten his own period of anxiety. Such a letter was accordingly written and dispatched. Its contents were calculated to astonish his Lordship not a little. It spoke of Julia’s deliverance by Fitz-Ullin in terms of the warmest gratitude; and naturally expressed her unfeigned wonder, as to who could have committed the outrage of attempting to tear her from her home; adding, that the only person whom circumstances could justify her in suspecting, she had not even seen.
“Oh! north wind cease, And let me listen for his coming tread.”
Young Surrel became hourly more assiduous, and either wanted modesty to perceive that his attentions were unwelcome, or delicacy to withdraw them on that account.
The annoyance to Julia was really growing serious; when, one morning after breakfast, Fitz-Ullin placed himself near our heroine, a thing not now usual with him. While in this situation, he took an opportunity of saying to her, in an under tone, “Will you grant me a few moments’ conversation with you alone?” His late cold and constrained behaviour had made such a request so unexpected, that, instead of colouring, she became quite pale, looked up a moment, and again hastily withdrew her eyes without reply.
“Do not mistake me,” he added, with rather a haughty air, “but, I shall just take Lady Oswald on deck, and having left her walking with Arthur, return and explain myself immediately.”
The proposition to walk was then made aloud. Lady Oswald had no objection, and asked Julia, as a matter of course, to accompany them. Our heroine declined; this was certainly consenting to the interview, Julia felt that it was, and coloured while she made her excuse.
Lady Oswald and Fitz-Ullin left the cabin. Julia neither moved nor breathed, till their receding steps were lost in the confused tramping, which was always going on over head.
She then drew a very long breath, and began to prepare herself. “He will return immediately!” she thought. She tried to compose her spirits, but in vain: her heart fluttered like a bird trying to escape from its cage. The tramping over head increased; she turned pale. It lessened; the colour stole gradually over her cheeks again. She listened, and breathing was again suspended, and every power of life concentrated in the sense of hearing. This became so acute, that, amid all the mingled sounds of a busy deck, she could yet plainly distinguish the well known tread of Fitz-Ullin on the main deck, approaching the cabin door. A cold sensation passed over her cheeks and brow. She clasped her hands together a moment, then let one fall at her side, and rested the other on the table. But there, its trembling movement was so visible, that with hasty confusion she withdrew it; and, fixing her eyes on the ground, held down, with a fatiguing effort, the universal tremor of her frame. He entered. He stood before her. He seated himself beside her. But, he made no attempt to take her hand.
One universal glow had covered her face and neck at his first approach, while she could have cried with vexation at the exposure. “You do not misunderstand me, I hope,” he said, perceiving her pitiable agitation. “You must, I think,” he continued, “be able to comprehend for what purpose I have requested this interview. You must have expected that I could not see Lord Surrel’s importunate attentions, and remain passive.”
She made no reply; but coloured, if possible, deeper than before, and looked more studiously downward; yet, Fitz-Ullin perceived the dawning of a pleasurable feeling shining through the confusion that covered as with a veil every other expression of her countenance. How can he be so foolish, thought Julia, as to be jealous of an absolute stranger, like Lord Surrel.
“I am rejoiced to perceive,” he recommenced, “that instead of being offended at my presumption, you are good enough to seem disposed to give me a favourable hearing. It was quite impossible for me not to be fully aware—not to know, in fact, what are, what must be your feelings, yet,”—he paused. So audacious, so well assured a suitor, one who was thus certain, that her preference for himself must render the attentions of any one else importunate, did not seem to need encouragement; and Julia, though the tears of shame started to her eyes, was too gentle, too fondly attached to chide; she therefore remained silent; and, (must it be confessed?) uncontrollable delight predominated very unduly over the indignation she thought she ought to feel!
“At least, I should suppose I am right?” he continued, in a questioning tone. “If so—if,” Julia at length seemed to consider some little manifestation of spirit necessary. “Most people,” she faltered out, “would be offended at having their sentiments thus taken for granted; but you think, I suppose, that our long intimacy authorizes you to act as you please.”
“As I please!” repeated Fitz-Ullin, “most assuredly not as I please, but as you please. It may be, and certainly is in my power, and indeed I feel myself called upon, while you are in this ship, not to permit Lord Surrel, or any officer of mine, to make his attentions troublesome to you, in a situation where you can neither avoid his society, nor enjoy the protection of your natural friends; but, to control the inclinations of Lady Julia L⸺,” he added, (and with some bitterness) “is an undertaking to which I have not the boldness to aspire!”
Fortunately for Julia the stunning effects of the new and heart-chilling conviction supplied by this last speech, was so overpowering, that it gave her somewhat the appearance of outward calm. So, it was Lord Surrel’s attentions, Lord Surrel’s love, simply as troublesome to her, not as interfering with his own, of which he was speaking! Here, indeed, was a revulsion of every feeling, too tremendous for Julia’s strength! Her heart utterly ceased beating, her cheeks became as white and cold as marble.
“Am I to understand then,” said Fitz-Ullin, surprised at her silence and change of countenance, “that the attentions of Lord Surrel are agreeable to you?”
Starting into momentary life, she exclaimed, hastily and eagerly, “Oh, no!”
“Then I know how to act,” said Fitz-Ullin, as rising, and bowing with a dignified and rather scornful air, he seemed about to leave the cabin; when, pausing and returning a step or two, he stopped before her, and added, in a suppressed tone, and with visible effort, “I was for a moment apprehensive that my present interference was, perhaps, as unwelcome as my unconscious intermeddling on another occasion. But, in that particular at least, I trust you do me justice. I acted according to the routine of duty. It was impossible for me to know—to suppose—that some such step indeed was contemplated, I was partly aware; but of the when, and the how, you must be conscious I could have no suspicion. You acquit me then, I trust, of availing myself of a reposed confidence to play the ruffian, and using the power entrusted to me for the public good, for private and unjustifiable purposes?”
Julia was unable to attach any meaning to his words: indeed she was too miserable to care what they meant. She therefore remained with her eyes fixed on the floor without attempting to reply. “You are silent,” he recommenced; “I am conscious that I have now entered on an interdicted subject; but, though I may have transgressed the letter, I trust I have not the spirit of the interdict.” She opened her lips, but, without the power to articulate, closed them again.
“The subject, I see, is painful to you,” he persisted, “but only say that, in this particular, you do me justice!”
Julia, still unable to comprehend his meaning, and still, as we have said, almost indifferent to it, yet willing to comply with any thing in the shape of a request from Fitz-Ullin, summoned all her powers to her aid, and whispered, “Yes,” but without venturing to look up. Fitz-Ullin stood gazing upon her for some moments, then sighed audibly, and quitted her without again speaking.
Julia, by the time she thought him quite gone, stole one alarmed look all round, as if to ascertain that she was really alone, then darted into the inner cabin, locked the door on herself, and remained there the rest of the day, pleading, on being summoned to dinner, a headach. When she did appear the next morning her headach did not seem much abated. Lady Oswald, who met her with a meaning, and almost a triumphant smile, looked surprised and disappointed, and, after examining our heroine’s countenance for a short time, determined not to introduce a subject, of which her heart had been full all night. Surrel’s attentions were no longer troublesome.
“Winds drive along the clouds: on wings of fire, The lightnings fly!”
It was late one hazy afternoon, when the Euphrasia made the land near the entrance of the Frith of Forth. As it did not appear possible to get to Leith that evening, Fitz-Ullin proposed to the pilots to lay-to till morning. They declared, however, that they could take the ship in by night as well as by day, the lights being sufficient to guide them. Accordingly, they stood in for port; about an hour after, when they supposed themselves still some miles from land, it was announced from the forecastle that there was a ship at anchor ahead. Almost immediately afterwards, however, it was discovered that the object they were approaching was a huge rock. In the greatest confusion the ship was now tacked about, but hardly were her sails turned, when it was found that she was getting into shoal water, and at the same moment land appeared just under her lee. Fitz-Ullin now fearing that the pilots were quite unfit for their duty, gave immediate orders to let go the anchor. During the short time thus occupied, there was scarcely a breath drawn, all, each moment expecting that the ship would strike. The anchor dropt, the sails were furled, and the clouds, breaking a little, there was just starlight sufficient to enable Fitz-Ullin to ascertain that they lay between the Bass rock and Tantallon castle, in a little steep-sided bay, the mouth of which, except at one small outlet, was closed by a very dangerous looking reef. He sent a boat with the master and another officer to sound, on which it was discovered, that the ship was actually anchored on a ledge of rocks; yet was it judged advisable, as there was very little wind, not to attempt quitting this perilous situation before morning; for, the clouds having closed again thicker than ever, the darkness had become quite impenetrable.
Our hero remained on deck, giving every precautionary and preparatory order, till the night was far advanced; when, much fatigued, and finding that nothing more could be done till daylight, he went below, and lay down on a sofa for a short time, leaving directions with the officer of the watch to call him half an hour before dawn. All was soon perfectly still: every one seemed to have forgotten, in “nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep,” both the dangers they had so lately passed, and those which still threatened them.
After some little time spent in uneasy reflections, a sort of stupor, occasioned by excessive fatigue both of mind and body, stole over the senses of Fitz-Ullin. His slumbers were at first much broken; but, at length, after telling himself for the hundredth time that nothing could be done till daylight, they assumed somewhat more the character of repose. He had not enjoyed such quite an hour when a low murmuring sound arose, at first apparently at an immense distance, as though the lulled winds were awaking and whispering together at the furthest extremity of space: a gloomy imagination could fancy them secretly conspiring, at this dead hour of the night, the destruction of those who thus unconsciously slept. The sound grew louder.
It approached—it became a howl—it drew nearer and nearer still. At length the ominous blast, sweeping through the rigging of the vessel, shrieked wildly, and passed away. Fitz-Ullin sat upright for a moment: but the demon of the storm had sounded his signal cry, and was hushed! A pause of breathless silence followed. Our hero listened for some seconds, and finding all still, concluded that some startling dream must have awakened him, and yielded again to repose. The distant murmur recommenced, increased, and grew by gusts impetuous; the howling blast drew near again, but instead of retiring as before, was pursued by another, and yet another, as it were urging each other forward, till their united and accumulated roar became, in an incredibly short time, tremendous.
Fitz-Ullin dreamed of a tempest; but for a few troubled moments, did not again awake; when, suddenly opening his eyes, he leaped up, and, bewildered by the universal uproar which now reigned, without waiting to collect his scattered thoughts, hastened on deck.
It was by this time blowing a gale, the ship beginning to labour excessively, and the darkness so impenetrable, that while his sense of hearing was thus assailed on every side, his sight was strained in vain to discover any object around him, and he was made sensible of being on the upper deck only by the buffeting of the winds, and still rougher salutation of a heavy sea, which, as it passed over the ship, threatened to carry him with it; yet nothing could be done or attempted till day dawned. He remained on deck however. It was the longest hour he had ever passed. From time to time he cast impatient glances towards the east, which looked, he thought, if possible, blacker than the rest of the horizon! At length the sky in that quarter assumed a greyish cast, and gradually it became evident that objects might have been in some degree discernible, but for the thickness of the haze which covered every thing, causing a cruel prolongation of suspense. In a little time, however, one yellow streak appeared near the horizon; then the clouds broke in that direction, and seemed tumbling and boiling round the spot; then, plunging among them, the rising sun was seen at last, for one moment only; it resembled a ball of fire; it seemed to roll past the opening; it disappeared again, and the dense masses of cloud closed immediately. There was now a visible increase of light. A rush of the tempest swept a part of the mist away, while the rocks, looking black and gigantic through what remained, appeared quite close to the ship, as she rode at single anchor.
The waves, notwithstanding the confined area of the little bay, rose with a tremendous swell; though so far unlike the alternate mountain and valley of the open ocean, that the whole body of water which the basin contained, seemed to swing at once to and fro with a simultaneous movement, which every time threatened to dash the frigate against the perpendicular sides of the cliff. At another moment, would the hurricane seize, as it were, the helpless vessel in its stupendous grasp, and appear about to lift her from the water. She seemed, in short, the sole object of contention to the warring element; while they, in their fury, appeared resolved to tear her in a thousand pieces and part her among them, rather than give up the struggle. Fitz-Ullin saw that any effort to get out of this dangerous bay or creek, must, at present, prove impossible, as the wind blew directly in; and it was quite evident that the reef must bring them up, before sufficient canvas could be set, to give the ship headway. He summoned however the officers and crew around him, to afford them the usual privilege of giving their opinion in a case of so much emergency. Some were for cutting away the masts and making the boats ready; but this would be forsaking the post of duty too soon. Some recommended attempting to get under way; but this, as had been shown, with the wind right ahead, would have been madness. Fitz-Ullin therefore rejected each of those suggestions, and finally decided on clinging, as long as the cable held, to the only rational hope which remained, that of the wind chancing to abate, or shift a little in their favour before any fatal catastrophe should take place.
“Must she then die!”
“Pitying heav’n, deprive me of mem’ry!”
The fears of both ladies had, on the evening before, been allayed as much as possible. The peculiarly hazardous situation of the vessel was of course not explained to them.
Now, therefore, though they heard the raving of the tempest, and could not avoid being alarmed, they were by no means aware of the full extent of the danger; and even fancied, (as in such cases women and children always do,) that so near land they must be comparatively safe.
Lady Oswald was in the inner cabin; Julia in the outer one; when, to her utter astonishment, Fitz-Ullin entered, and with a countenance of the deepest seriousness, without hesitation or apology, approached and clasped her to his breast. He looked at her mournfully; he kissed her forehead. “Julia,” he said, “when I have done what I can for the ship, I will return to you.” He again pressed his lips on her fair brow; but now it was with a wild fervour, differing widely from the tender solemnity which had at first characterized his manner.
Lady Oswald entered. He had just time to release the passive Julia, the excess of whose surprise had so entirely suspended every faculty, that she had not even blushed. She did so now, to an excess that was overwhelming.
He grasped his aunt’s hand hastily as he hurried past her and disappeared. At the same moment, Arthur running in and throwing himself into his mother’s arms, told her, that they must all be lost.
“The winds came rustling from their hills.”
In the gunroom, meantime, some of the officers were eating their breakfast with as much composure as if there was nothing the matter. Others there were, it must be confessed, who sipped their coffee slowly and gloomily enough; while others again, with a strange mixture of caution and carelessness, were packing up their valuables, and calling aloud the while to the steward, to keep their breakfast hot. A cold one would scarcely have been remembered on such an occasion, by a landsman.
One of the most affecting features of the hour was presented by the helpless prisoners at the hatchways, who, in profound silence, manifested their anxious feeling, by crowding to the bars which fastened them down, to gain, if possible, some intelligence of what was going on; while, at every roll of the ship, they expected to go to the bottom. On the coast, on the Tantallon side, the friendly Scots had collected to the number of thousands; bringing down boats, rafts, ropes, &c. to the part of the beach on which it was generally expected the ship must be wrecked.
On the quarter-deck Fitz-Ullin walked alone, occasionally going forward to look at the cable, which, being strained to the utmost, was every moment in danger of parting; an accident which, should it occur, must be followed by instant destruction.
From the cable he raised his eyes from time to time to the vane, and withdrew them again in bitter disappointment, for the wind was still right ahead.
All things remained in this state of fearful suspense, till nearly twelve at noon; when our hero, whose eyes were, at the moment, anxiously raised to the vane, saw it veer round one point in his favour. Even this slight advantage was not to be neglected for a moment: it warranted an attempt to quit a situation of so much peril.
A spring was instantly placed on the cable, which brought the ship’s broadside more to the wind; the three topsails, double reefed, were set, and the carpenter, having been previously placed ready with an uplifted axe, a single blow (such was now the tension) parted the cable, and the courses being at the same moment added, the vessel, which had been straining for way, flew through the water almost on her beam ends. While she thus rushed towards the dangerous barrier, perfect silence was observed by every one. It was generally apprehended that she must split her canvas, or carry away her masts; yet it was necessary to put her under this heavy press of sail, to overbalance, if possible, the great lee-way she had, and so get her clear of the rocks. She now approached them with incredible velocity, passed them at but a few yards distance, and, shipping two or three heavy seas, weathered the reef in safety. A general shout of joy burst at the moment from the hitherto breathless crowd on the deck, and was as instantly answered by an echoing shout from the prisoners throughout the hold.
Some minutes, at least, must elapse, ere Fitz-Ullin could be justified in leaving the deck; he dispatched Arthur therefore to his aunt and Julia, with the joyful tidings, and, as soon as possible, followed him.
On entering the cabin, where both ladies now were, our hero’s countenance was covered with the glow of successful exertion. It was animated, it was even joyful! He pressed Lady Oswald’s eagerly offered hands in silence, and passed to Julia. He raised one of hers and paused, as if to take breath, which he had not yet given himself time to do.
He looked in silence at her changing colour and downcast eyes, and during the moments so employed, his own expression became entirely altered. Speaking with effort, and, for the occasion, with unnatural coldness, he said, “Arthur has of course informed you that the danger is over: it is only left for me, therefore, to apologize for the rashness of which I was guilty, in giving you unnecessary alarm. And,” he added, in a lowered and somewhat faltering tone, at the same time glancing at Lady Oswald, and seeing that she was engaged by her son, “and for the expression of—in short, feelings which—which had been better unexpressed! The certainty, almost, of approaching death to both, and the brotherly affection I have from childhood been permitted to cherish, are all I can plead in my excuse.” Without waiting for reply, he turned to Lady Oswald, and again hastily taking her hand, murmured something about his duties on deck, and left the cabin. Arthur followed him; and Lady Oswald’s spirits being quite exhausted, she retired to the inner cabin to lie down.
Julia was left alone. The terror and the joy also seemed over. It was all like a dream: she felt bewildered; she was unhappy too! more unhappy than she had been when each moment she expected the ship would go to pieces! She could not conceal this feeling from herself, nor that it had its source in the unaccountable alternations of Fitz-Ullin’s manner. Yet she was indignant at her own weakness! She sat for a long time motionless: a blush at length appeared on her cheek, for now fancy was pourtraying, and memory acknowledging, the scene which had taken place during the moment of extreme danger! How had she permitted, passively permitted, conduct so unwarrantable—so incredible!
… “Blue Innistone rose to sight, And Caracthura’s mossy tow’rs appear’d.”
“Tura’s bay receiv’d our ships.”
Here the meditations of our heroine were broken off by the sudden entrance of her father accompanied by Fitz-Ullin. The Euphrasia was by this time safely anchored in Leith roads.
Lord L⸺ embraced his child; both were some moments silent; Julia’s weariness of heart found an inexpressible solace in a passion of tears, shed on the bosom of a kind parent. She tried to persuade herself that they were all tears of joy.
Lord L⸺ had received Julia’s letter. Its contents were not easily reconciled with those of the three notes left on her table at Lodore; but Lord L⸺ determined to reserve the expression of any feeling of doubt he might yet entertain, for the subject of a strictly private interview; and, never to allow the world, but particularly Fitz-Ullin, to suppose that he could, for a moment, suspect his daughter of having quitted her home willingly. “I have indeed spent,” said Lord L⸺, in answer to a remark of Julia’s on his looking fatigued, “an anxious night and a truly terrible morning. I arrived in Leith just in time to witness the distress of the Euphrasia, on board of which, by your letter, I knew you to be. I was among those, Julia, who crowded the beach during the many hours of awful suspense, while the vessel was, each moment, expected to drive on the rocks! but now,” he added, “that things have ended so happily, a little rest will remedy all that. And your preserver, my child, how shall I sufficiently thank him!” Fitz-Ullin, who, from delicacy, had left the cabin for a short time, had just returned, and now stood a little apart. Lord L⸺, as he spoke, looked from him to Julia, and from Julia to him, as though he would have added, “shall I reward him with the gift of the precious treasure he has preserved?”
Fitz-Ullin seemed to comprehend the look, for his eyes sought the ground, and he coloured slightly. Julia too blushed. Fitz-Ullin however continued silent. Lord L⸺ paused a scarcely perceptible moment, then, assuming an air of dignity, which almost amounted to haughtiness, asked Julia if she felt sufficiently recovered to go on shore immediately? “We shall take an early opportunity,” he added, turning to our hero, “of expressing, at more length, our grateful acknowledgments to Lord Fitz-Ullin.” Both gentlemen endeavoured to conceal their feelings by bowing very profoundly, and Julia, promising to get ready for her departure in a few moments, joined Lady Oswald in the inner cabin. Lord L⸺ could not have been so unreasonable as to have expected that, if Fitz-Ullin did intend to propose for his daughter, he was to do so in such a moment of hurry as the present; but, there had been an undefinable something in the look and manner of our hero, which conveyed to the haughty Earl a sense, that the honour of his alliance had been tacitly declined; and, still worse, he felt an inward conviction that his secret wishes, in a moment of emotion, of which he was now ashamed, had been in some degree understood.
While the ladies’ preparations were being made, Henry came on board. After setting out for Plymouth, he had seen, by a paper he had taken up at an inn, that the Euphrasia had sailed for Leith, and he had in consequence turned back to join her there. What must have been his astonishment, just as he set foot on the deck, to behold rise to view, coming up from the cabin, his cousin Julia, handed up by Fitz-Ullin! He received a glance from Lord L⸺ which was not at all calculated to set him at his ease. His lordship, however, gave at this time, no other expression to his feelings. Henry soon became reassured; paid his compliments to Lady Oswald; and finally asked and obtained permission of our hero, to attend the ladies in landing.
Lord L⸺, taking Fitz-Ullin by the arm, walked apart with him a few paces, then said: “After this day, your lordship will oblige me, by not permitting Mr. St. Aubin to land again while we are in Edinburgh; to him I must ascribe this daring attempt to tear my daughter from her home, and compel her to form a union as repugnant to her own feelings, as ineligible in my eyes.” Here a pause took place; but, Fitz-Ullin, though he listened with polite attention, did not reply. “As, however, my daughter does not return his attachment, I can have no scruple on the score of parental feeling, in preventing all intercourse in future.” When Lord L⸺ concluded, our hero bowed his assent. Fitz-Ullin attended the party in his own barge to the shore, but excused himself from landing, pleading the necessity of returning immediately to his ship.
On arriving on board, he gave orders to have the pilots detained, having determined to give them into the hands of the Port Admiral, to suffer whatever punishment might be adjudged them, for having undertaken a service for which they were quite unfit. The order however was too late, the pilots had already disappeared. They had managed to get away unnoticed; it was supposed in the shore-boat that brought Lord L⸺ on board.
… “Ye, Children of the night, ye are seen, and lost!”
About the time that, on board the Euphrasia, Fitz-Ullin’s champagne was spreading hilarity among his officers, to whom he gave an excellent dinner in honour of their late escape, a tall, large proportioned, elderly man, in a college cap and gown, was pacing up and down by the dim light of the lamps, in one of the then best streets of Auld Reekie, immediately beneath the windows of Lord L⸺’s hotel. He cast from time to time impatient glances at the door as he passed and repassed. At length it opened and shewed the figure of a younger man, habited in naval uniform, and in the act of taking his cocked hat from a servant in the lit up hall. The door closed again, and the officer joined him of the cap and gown. “So,” said Henry, for he was the officer, “the game is up, I fear.”
“The devil it is,” replied the person addressed.
“Is it not?” said Henry.
“Throw again,” said the stranger. They walked on for a time in silence. “Why certainly,” said Henry, “however strong their suspicions may be, they have no proofs that would enable them to take any steps against me; and as to my being forbid Lord L⸺’s house, and my aunt’s, whenever Julia is there, it can make very little difference, unless they absolutely incarcerate her. We now have the title-deeds, we have only to seize her person, the first opportunity that offers, and I can still compel her to retract all her declarations of having been carried off against her will.
“I wish the devil would tempt her,” said the stranger, “to take a moonlight view of the Bass Rock.”
“I can see,” continued Henry, “by Fitz-Ullin’s countenance that they have not come to any explanation, nor are they likely to do so; and her absurd infatuation about him will keep her from marrying any one else, for some time at least.”
“What, then, is Lord L⸺’s present belief?” asked the stranger.
“Faith,” replied Henry, “I hardly know; I believe he hardly knows himself. We had quite a scene there, just now. His lordship took me to task in rather strong terms, for my supposed misdemeanours. I replied, however, very coolly, that I should neither deny nor confess any thing, but refer him to his daughter, who must know whether she had eloped with me or not. She, of course, declared she had not. But she was evidently afraid of exasperating me, therefore said very little. Lord L⸺ showed her the three notes found on her table. She declared she had never written them. ‘Am I then to believe these letters forgeries?’ said his lordship, and he looked towards me. I met his eye with all the steadiness I could command, but remained silent. So, after a few more questions, for the answers to which I persisted in referring him to Julia, I was dismissed, having been, of course, forbid the house.”
An expression of contempt was here muttered by the stranger.
“But how did you know,” asked Henry, “that the Euphrasia was going round to Leith, and how did you gain admittance into the ship?” “I learned her destination at Plymouth: the admiral’s certificate settled the rest,” replied the stranger. “The difficulty was, to get in time to where the pilots for Leith are taken on board.”
“Who was the second pilot?” asked Henry.
“Charpantier. I have always three or four fellows, regular sworn port-pilots.”
“And did you really mean to run the ship aground?” again asked Henry.
“Most certainly!” replied his companion, in a tone indicating neither doubt nor compunction. “Why,” he continued, “I could have run her high and dry without danger to our lives, when she must have gone to pieces; and I had hands enough on the rock to do the rest.”
“Men whom you could depend upon?” demanded Henry.
“A more determined set of fellows never hauled a boat up the Bass since the time of good King James,” replied the stranger. “And our men would not have been the last,” he added with a sneer, “to have rendered their timely assistance to the distressed crew of the Euphrasia; nor should Lady Julia L⸺ have been the last of the passengers their praiseworthy exertions would have rescued from a watery grave.” Henry laughed.
“Fool!” uttered in no very persuasive tone, was the courteous rejoinder of his companion, who, now that he happened to turn while passing a lamp, displayed the same fierce features which we have seen bending over the title-deeds of the Craigs, by the light of the colliery lantern. “And, as for Fitz-Ullin,” he continued, “if he did not know his way to the bottom, he might have been shown it! Confound him! If he had not given the order to let go the anchor, in less than two minutes no power could have saved the ship!” Both personages now proceeded in silence along the street, till their figures were lost in the gloom of its further extremity. Not long after the same two figures became visible on the verge of the Salisbury Craigs, and finally disappeared around the brow of the hill, a little below Arthur’s Seat, leaving the calm serenity of the scene unbroken by any living or moving object; while the distant villages, the bare hills, the waters of the Frith, the shipping in the roads, the deserted palace and ruined chapel, all slumbered silently in the clear moonshine of a summer night. And the city itself, so full of human life, where so many hearts and so many pulses at the very moment beat, presented an image as still and cold as though its piles of building, reflecting partial lights, and casting from their singularly irregular site gigantic shadows, were but the steep sides of so many masses of solid rock.
“Arise, tell him that came from the roaring Of waters, that Innisfail gives his feast.”
The next day Fitz-Ullin called at Lord L⸺’s hotel. His lordship was out; Lady Oswald and Julia were in the drawing-room. Our hero’s visit was short and formal; on his return on board, he found a note from Lord L⸺, containing an invitation to dinner, for that day. He hesitated, but finally he decided on going. His reception from Lord L⸺ and Lady Oswald, was cordial; from Julia, embarrassed. After some general conversation, Lord L⸺ drew our hero towards a window, and opened the conference by speaking of the rescue of his daughter. Fitz-Ullin, in his turn, expressed warmly the grateful affection due by him to Lord L⸺ and his family. This gave nature and heart to his manner.
Lord L⸺ was more delighted with him than ever; and while he so felt, unconsciously looked towards Julia. He accounted, however, for so doing, by again recurring to the subject of her preservation from a fate of which he himself, he said, knew not half the horror till his last conversation with his daughter. And his lordship here mentioned, in strong terms, the repugnance evinced by Julia, to the addresses of her cousin. In fact, it was to take an opportunity of impressing this particular on his auditor, that Lord L⸺ had drawn him aside. Then after renewing with becoming seriousness, his expressions of grateful obligation towards our hero, his lordship added, with an air of pleasantry, “Were I a monarch, Fitz-Ullin, I should say: ask what thou wilt, even unto the half of my kingdom, and I will give it thee!” Our hero, instead of smiling, as might have been expected, turned deadly pale. This, however, was unperceived by Lord L⸺, who, returning towards the ladies arm in arm with Fitz-Ullin, stopped, perhaps unconscious of the association of ideas which had guided his steps before Julia, and, taking her hand kindly, said, “I don’t think, my child, you have half thanked your preserver!” She replied by looking up in the face, first of her father, and then of Fitz-Ullin, with the gentlest and sweetest expression possible. Yet, strange to say, the immediate effect on our hero was evidently painful. Dinner was announced at the moment, and Lord L⸺, making over the hand he still held to Fitz-Ullin, offered his own arm to Lady Oswald, and led her towards the dining-room. The arrangement was quite a matter of course, yet both Julia and our hero coloured.
When they had taken their places at the table, Julia did not again venture to raise her eyes, while the long fringes of the downcast lids rested on cheeks from which a more than usual glow had not yet subsided. She happened to be seated beneath a peculiarly brilliant lamp, and, consequently, in the very midst of a shower of beams; so that the consciousness of want of shelter for the blushes already raised called up, each moment, new ones. The blaze of light streaming thus on her countenance, shining on each of all the light and glossy ringlets, which floated in rich profusion around her shoulders, (such was then the fashion,) and reflected by the dazzling whiteness of her neck and arms, rendered her altogether so bright a vision that any one who had sat in the dangerous vicinity might have found their eyes attracted in that direction. It was the voice of Lord L⸺ proposing some interesting question respecting the choice of soups, which seemed to remind Fitz-Ullin that his had been fixed on his fair neighbour longer than good breeding would have authorised. He had been picturing to himself, in contrast with the present, that hour of darkness and wild alarm, when that same profusion of beautiful hair that it now seemed dangerous but to look upon, had hung dishevelled over his own arm; that Julia, now so bashful, so reserved, had clung to his side as though he were all that was dear to her on earth!
Had such things been? And now was it, indeed, the same being who sat beside him, all brightness, all attraction, yet unapproachable?
During the evening, as there were no strangers present, the late extraordinary event formed the chief topic of conversation. Fitz-Ullin’s manner, while the subject was being discussed, puzzled Lord L⸺ extremely.
Fitz-Ullin was now speaking, and seemingly with effort; his eyes the while fixed on the arrangement his own fingers were making on the tea-table, of the crumbs to which they had reduced a small bit of cake, accepted probably as unconsciously as now its pulverized particles were formed into squares and circles. “He either,” continued Lord L⸺ to himself, “is more interested than, for some reason or other, he chooses should be known, or less so than, in common gratitude to the family, and a natural feeling of regard towards the companion of his childhood, he ought to be!” What Lord L⸺ would have thought of our hero cherishing a natural feeling of regard for the companion of his childhood had he continued the poor nameless Edmund, he did not ask himself. The next morning Lord L⸺ and his daughter left Edinburgh.
“Hail, light of Innisfail!”
“Sunbeam of beauty, hail!”
We shall pass over Julia’s reception at Lodore, it was so exactly what might have been expected.
No one, of course, expressed, in the presence of Mrs. Montgomery, their conviction of Henry’s guilt. From the very strange account which our heroine gave of her adventures, her hearers were disposed to suspect that, in her terror, she had mistaken a coal cellar for a coal pit. This, however, she declared could not be the case. But what traveller likes to have the most marvellous of their adventures translated into mere, common place, vulgar accidents.
Mr. Jackson, however, was of opinion that, making due allowance for the exaggerations of a terrified fancy, Julia might be nearly right; as no more effectual places of concealment could be devised, than the situations described by her; nor was there any class of people, among whom an unprincipled person, could more readily find agents suited to their purpose, than the wretches in whose hands she had unquestionably been. He thought it probable, therefore, that something might be discovered by questioning, if not directly, indirectly, all sorts of persons connected with the neighbouring works; some might have been engaged in a service of the kind, whose absolute ignorance would render them liable, on being spoken with, to betray their employers unconsciously.
“Answer vague as this but confirms her guilt.”
The next day Lord L⸺ and Mr. Jackson, in pursuance of the plan of operations suggested by the latter, set out, at a very early hour, for Whitehaven.
When in the vicinity of the Gins, and in sight of a clump of fir-trees which shade a part of that road, their ears were saluted by loud, coarse laughter, clanking of chains, and trampling of horses.
In a few moments a troop of mounted colliers began to make their appearance, emerging from behind the trees. The gentlemen could immediately perceive that the party was headed by that far famed Amazon, called Jin of the Gins. Her costume and whole appearance such as have already been described. With a countenance full of impudent glee, she was throwing occasional looks and loud speeches behind her, as, with perfect ease, she sat without saddle, and guided with a bridle of rope, apparently the same animal on which we have already seen her. Her companions were, of course, not better mounted. They, indeed, chiefly rode in couples, a male and a female on each beast, and, not unfrequently, seated back to back, with all their four heels goading the ribs of the but half-alive animal, to keep it in motion.
Lord L⸺ and Mr. Jackson were by this time close to them, and his lordship, his countenance expressive of much disgust, was just beginning to guide his rein with a careful hand, and measure his distances with a cautious eye, for the purpose of passing through this sooty train without soil, when the whole troop, closing round both gentlemen, and whirling their hats in the air, gave a loud cheer, followed by sudden silence and a simultaneous grin, which shewed at one flash the teeth of the whole party. The next moment, seeming to perceive that they were not understood, numerous voices uttered at once, “Some ’ot te drink—an ye please.”
Lord L⸺, as soon as he could be got to comprehend, complied with the request, and was passing on, amid three cheers louder than the former, when Mr. Jackson, addressing him in an under tone, said he felt inclined to have some conversation with those people, as it was not at all impossible that a seemingly careless question might obtain some accidental clue to information. Lord L⸺ smiled incredulously, but checked his horse, and Mr. Jackson, adapting his language to his company, and addressing the man nearest him, said, “Have you had many people to see the Bottom lately?”
The whole troop halted and wheeled, for they had just begun to move forward. Their intrepid leader, finding herself, by this unexpected evolution, in the centre of her forces, placed the fore-feet of her beast on a mound of earth, to give herself a certain elevation above the rest, planted her arms a-kimbo, and assumed a listening attitude, “I doon’t na I’s sure,” replied the man spoken to. A second fellow here interposed with, “It’s no se lang sine Sir Sydney was doon wid——”
“Haud yeer gab, ye feul!” interrupted our Amazon, in a voice of authority. “Sir Sydney, indeed! Its lang enew sine Sir Sydney was doon! He’s no been on dry land for monny a day.”
“And pray,” inquired Mr. Jackson, who remembered the mention he had once heard of the name from the lips of Henry, “who is Sir Sydney?”
“The best friend,” replied the man who had just been interrupted, “the Bottom folk hay.”
“No but a feller that’s oot on his mind,” said Jin of the Gins, with a marked impatience, which she endeavoured to screen, by increasing boldness of deportment, and repeated kicks on the sides of her charger. He, however, was in no haste to move, and the man replied again: “He may be no just quite right; bit he gives folk plenty te drink, for aw that!”
“Out of his mind!” repeated Mr. Jackson. “But did you not say, that the last time this Sir Sydney was down, he had gentlefolk with him?” Now, Mr. Jackson was quite aware, that the fellow had not yet said so.
“Gentlefolk?” repeated the man, “whough aye: ’at was the night ’at——”
Here he was again interrupted with a repetition of, “Haud yeer gab, ye feul,” from Jin, who now speaking angrily, and addressing Mr. Jackson, said, with her large sooty arm out-stretched, and pointing towards Whitehaven, “Gang yeer gate, and let us gang oors: we hey ney time te clatter nonsense aboot crazy folk!”
Then, with a more determined effort than before, she forced the wretched animal she rode, to raise its unwilling head, lift its ponderous hoofs, and, finally, urged by reiterated kicks and curses, to move forward. The renewed clanking of the chains, that trailed on the ground on either side, duly accompanying her progress; while the rest of the troop, deeming some mark of courtesy due to gentlemen who had given them money to drink, set up a parting cheer, as they followed in her track; soon after which, they recommenced their own coarse jests, and loud laughter.
Lord L⸺ thought the sum of information obtained, did not amount to much. But Mr. Jackson reminded him that Sir Sydney was the appellation ascribed by Henry, many years since, to a very remarkable looking person, whom he, Mr. Jackson, had seen in very familiar conversation with Henry.
This certainly was a sort of clue; and Jin’s unwillingness to let the men speak, looked suspicious. It seemed highly probable that both Jin and Sir Sydney were agents of Henry’s.
The two gentlemen now proceeded to some of the overseers of the works, where they learnt that the person, called by the colliers and rabble of the Gins, Sir Sydney, was a madman who fancied the coal vessels the British fleet, and himself an admiral; and who was thence called, in derision, Sir Sydney Smyth. They next repaired to the magistrates, who, on hearing all the particulars, recommended that no alarm should be given, by any premature examination of Jin of the Gins; but, that they should wait till the man, calling himself Sir Sydney, should make his appearance, and then apprehend him and all his associates together.
This plan being approved of by all parties, was adopted accordingly.
“Who bore the murd’ring steel? … The arrow came not From the ranks of the foe, a nearer hand Hath winged the shaft.”
“The upright sentence struck upon his heart. And then sent forth a groan of agony.”
The Euphrasia was cruising off the French coast, when, one morning, Fitz-Ullin, who was walking the quarter-deck, discovered, what appeared to be a sail in shore. On using his glass, however, he perceived that there were two, the one a large privateer, the other a smaller vessel ahead, of which the privateer seemed to be in pursuit. He immediately issued orders to make all sail and give chace. In a little time the privateer was within pistol-shot of the headmost ship, but, being closely pressed by the Euphrasia, she was obliged to content herself with the wanton mischief of firing one gun as she passed.
She had hitherto been to windward of the frigate, she now bore away, with the evident intention of crossing her bows, when the wind, suddenly shifting, threw her all aback. The Euphrasia shortly after came up with her, upon which, seeing no further chance of escape, she slackened sail and fell almost alongside. While the crew of the Euphrasia were busily engaged taking in their sails, Fitz-Ullin, who was looking out for the lowering of the privateer’s colours, observed some of her men pointing a long twenty-four pounder, which was placed in the centre of their deck, and which appeared to turn on a pivot. At first, he could scarcely believe that so useless a piece of cruelty could be intended; seeing them, however, actually about to apply the match, he ordered the small armed party of marines to fire a volley into the midst of them. In a moment, the fellows who had been employed about the gun were swept away. This destructive piece of ordnance was afterwards found to be loaded with buck shot, old nails, and crooked pieces of iron. Had it been discharged from so short a distance, on the, just then, necessarily crowded decks of the frigate, the havoc must have been dreadful.
The privateer was now boarded, and her Captain found to be too ill to leave his berth. This circumstance, however, was not attended with any inconvenience, as it would have been necessary, at any rate, to leave the Captain in the prize, to facilitate her condemnation. The rest of the crew, with the exception of one black, for whose attendance the sick Captain sent an urgent petition, were taken on board the Euphrasia, and a proper complement of her men sent into the prize, with a midshipman as prize master. By the time, however, that these necessary arrangements were completed, the aspect of the weather changed so much, that Fitz-Ullin judged it not prudent, under the possible circumstances, to entrust so considerable a prize to the care of a midshipman. Accordingly, at about ten o’clock at night, he sent Henry on board, with orders to take the command, and forthwith sail for Plymouth.
Henry finding from the midshipman whom he relieved, that every needful preparation was already made, went immediately to his cabin. He saw neither the sick captain nor his black, the first never having quitted his berth, and the second having retired to his, two hours before, neither having any thing to do with the business of the ship.
The breeze was brisk, and soon parted them many miles from the Euphrasia.
Henry had, as usual, heated his blood with wine at supper, and in consequence lay tossing and restless. At length, however, about twelve o’clock, he fell into a perturbed slumber. Shortly after, he dreamed that he heard his cabin-door open softly. He started awake, and, notwithstanding the utter darkness, was sensible that something moved, though noiselessly, towards him.
The next moment he felt a hand laid, with the fingers spread open, on his shoulder, and passed from thence to his breast, as if to ascertain his exact position. He leaped up, grappled with the invisible intruder, and strove to seize the right arm, which, from its being greatly elevated above the head, he supposed to wield some deadly weapon. In the struggle they pushed through the doorway of the little cabin, into the outer one. Henry felt that, though the figure was tall, and in its proportions athletic, he was himself, he thought, the stronger, certainly the more elastic of the two. Still, no effort he could make, could bend the right arm downwards. If he attempted to use both hands for the purpose, the left arm of his antagonist tightly encircled his waist, to the endangering of his footing; in so much that with his left he was obliged to clasp with equal closeness his invisible assailant. While they thus wrestled, locked in each other’s embrace, Henry, who had not had presence of mind, indeed scarcely time, to do so sooner, called out, “On deck there!” A foot was heard coming below. The vigilance of Henry’s attention was taken off for a second. The uplifted arm descended with the quickness of lightning, and a dagger was plunged, up to the hilt, in his side. He uttered a species of yell, leaped from the ground, fell, and groaned heavily, muttering from between his closing teeth: “Hell and the Devil, I am murdered!”
“Henry!” exclaimed a well known voice, rendered terrible by horror, amazement, and despair.
At this moment, the person who had been heard approaching, entered, carrying a dark lantern, which, while it left the intruder in shadow, threw a strong light on the form of Henry, writhing in agony on the ground; his countenance distorted, and his eyes still wide open. He turned them, as the light appeared, on the figure of his late violent assailant, now standing over him, horror-stricken and motionless. A frightful sort of smile divided the lips of Henry; the eyes fixed, a few convulsive movements of the limbs followed, and then, one fearful spasm, evidently the last, closed his mortal career.
“It is my son!” said the murderer.
The man who had just entered, paused and gazed on the scene before him, with an unmeaning stare. Placing the lantern, while he did so, under his arm, it glared its light upwards on his own countenance, which proved to be that of a peculiarly brutal looking black. The balls of the eyes shone in the partial gleam, and the thick turned-over lips, being spread by a horrible grin, displayed a wide range of glaring white teeth.
It would have been difficult to have defined exactly the source of this wretch’s grin; for he was sufficiently in the secrets of his master to know that the murder of Henry could not have been intended. But, there was a demoniac glee at the sight of suffering and death; and surprise at the strange mistake, and curiosity to see what effect it would have on him most interested. The grin which those mixed feelings had produced, still remained on his face, and seemed to have been forgotten there, while stooping, and flaring the light across and across, over the prostrate figure of Henry, as if to ascertain that life was quite extinct, he said, as he raised himself and gave his head a knowing nod, “We must not lose the ship for this though!”
The aroused murderer snatched the lantern from him, and flinging himself on his knees beside the corse, held the light close to Henry’s pale face: paused—shuddered—closed the eyes of the dead—then the lips, which agony had left parted while the teeth were clenched; laid the lantern on the ground, tore open the breast of the shirt, placed his hand on the heart, remained for some moments motionless, holding in his breath; then, perhaps unconsciously, heaved a sigh as deep and tremulous as though it had issued from the gentlest of bosoms, and proceeded to examine the wound.
“There are two ribs broken!” he murmured to himself, as he continued the scrutiny.
“I was quite sure,” interposed the black, approaching a step, “that the midshipman I told you of, was our prize-master: I saw no other officer come aboard of us. It was your own order, that I should turn in, and keep clear of the men, and seem to take no concern in what was going on, till after the first watch was relieved, and then to be sure to come on deck, and keep near the cabin-door.”
“_Damnation! Damnation! Damnation!_” muttered the still kneeling murderer, without withdrawing his eyes from the face of the corse, and grinding, as it were, each utterance of the word beneath his clenched teeth, ere he suffered it to pass. Then, starting up, he hastened on deck, (followed by the black,) strode towards the steersman, held a pistol to his head, and swearing he would blow his brains out if he made the slightest resistance, tied him down with cords. The same threat was used by the black, to the man who had the lookout, and whom they also tied. The desperate pair of ruffians then proceeded to the hatchways which they had previously fastened down, and ordering the remainder of the crew to come up, one by one, bound each, as he appeared, with the exception of two foreigners, who volunteered to assist them in taking the ship into a French harbour.
They then altered the course of the thus recovered prize, and stood towards Brest.
The storm which Fitz-Ullin had foreseen, had been for some time gradually rising; it soon became so high as to render the privateer with so few efficient hands, very unmanageable; there was also distant thunder, and occasional flashes of lightning. The wind, however, being favourable for the French coast, they allowed the vessel to drive before it, and seemed resolved to perish rather than yield to their prisoners; for this, from the superiority in numbers of the latter, must have been the alternative, had they let them loose to obtain their assistance.
After some hours, but while it was still quite dark, they ran foul of another vessel. On board both ships, some moments of the most awful suspense followed: neither crew could be at first aware, what degree of injury their vessel had sustained; nor was it immediately possible, in consequence of the darkness, to ascertain whether their dangerously near neighbour were friend or foe. They were endeavouring, through the din of the elements, to hail each other, when a peculiarly vivid flash of lightning struck and shattered the upper half of the main-mast of the privateer, while the lower part of the mast continued standing, but took fire and instantly became a blazing torch of gigantic dimensions, illuminating, from end to end, with perfect distinctness, the decks of both vessels. That of the frigate presented the usual crowd and bustle attendant on the circumstances; while that of the privateer was nearly desolate, rendering the more remarkable the figure of the murderer and that of his black assistant, standing in the glare of the burning mast, and, with looks of dismay, recognising in the vessel alongside of which their own lay, their late captor, the Euphrasia.
The privateer could offer no resistance: she was of course retaken. It would be difficult to describe the horror of those who now boarded the thus twice captured prize, on finding what had happened, and discovering the body of Henry. Still less would it be possible to paint the feelings of Fitz-Ullin, when the account of the murder was brought to him.
The Euphrasia having received some injury, (being lying-to when the privateer ran on board of her,) a homeward course became desirable. As soon, therefore, as wind and weather would permit, Fitz-Ullin took Henry’s body on board, and proceeded to Plymouth. From thence he instantly wrote to Mr. Jackson with the melancholy intelligence, that he might break it to the family with proper caution.
The prize, which was very valuable, was also brought safe into port, the burning mast having been extinguished in time to prevent the spreading of the fire.
Having sent the murderers to Exeter gaol to be tried for their lives at the assizes, which were to commence in a day or two, and made whatever arrangements the duties of the service required, Fitz-Ullin set out for Lodore, whither, according to instructions received from Mr. Jackson, he gave orders to have the body of Henry conveyed. So contradictory and unsearchable are often the movements of the human heart, that, melancholy as were these duties, it is certain that our hero performed them with an activity and energy of spirit, to which he had long been a stranger. Whether it was, that tired of his self-imposed banishment, he was glad of even this mournful excuse, to renew the affectionate intercourse of early life with a family so long and so justly regarded, by offering his services on the present occasion, and giving his necessary assistance in prosecuting the murderers to conviction; or, whether any other, and more mysterious springs of thought and feeling were set in motion, it would be difficult to determine.
However this was, in a few days after his landing, he was to be seen, with a countenance of seriousness, certainly, but not of despair, leaning back in a travelling carriage which rolled along the north road as fast as the united strength of four good horses could give the impetus of motion to its wheels.
He arrived at Keswick, drove through it, and shortly after a turning in the road presented Lodore House to his view.
“Lovely pass’d the light of joy o’er thy face, Comala! But there—like the faint beam of The show’r, ’tis fled!”
With an almost involuntary movement he put an arm out the window, opened the door himself, kicked the steps half down, leaped over them, and, either without waiting for, or without remembering Arthur, crossed the lawn on foot and alone; while the carriage, its door flapping, its steps hanging, and its master missing, took the usual course, and drove up to the principal entrance.
No sooner had our hero passed the threshold of the half-open glass door, which had thus attracted him, than he beheld Julia. She was alone, dressed, of course, in mourning, and seated at a table over which she stooped, in the act of writing or drawing. He stood; she looked up. An expression of pleasure sparkled for a moment in her eyes.
Julia, in the hurry of the moment, pronounced the name of Edmund. She had not seen Fitz-Ullin at Lodore since other names and titles had been added to that which was associated in her feelings, with the scenes and remembrances of childhood. He too pronounced her name, as, with visible agitation, he took the hand of welcome she held out. After thus naming each other, however, neither spoke again; while he examined her countenance with an earnestness, which at first pained, and at last offended her.
“Julia! Julia!” he at length said. Then burying his face in both his hands, against the arm of a sofa on which he flung himself, he added: “we are alone?” After a considerable pause he looked up; Julia, to hide the confusion occasioned by so strange an address, was stooping to caress a dog of Fitz-Ullin’s, which, since its first entrance, had been importuning for notice. Our hero, with a bitter smile, arose and walked towards a window.
“Surely” he murmured to himself, “I need not wish—I need not desire—yet—nothing—nothing short of infatuation could extenuate—”
The entrance of Lord L⸺, followed shortly by Frances, and soon after by Lady Oswald, who was now on a visit at Lodore, put an end to this strange interview. The dreadful occurrence of the murder was fresh in the minds of all. The subject was entered upon immediately: they spoke of how severely Mrs. Montgomery had felt the shock. Particulars were minutely enquired into by Lord L⸺, and many comments made by each in turn. Julia, indeed, said the least; for she found that, whenever she spoke, Fitz-Ullin watched every word that fell from her lips, with a kind of attention which was distressing, as well as embarrassing, and she shortly therefore quitted the room. Frances, who had done so before, now returned with a message from her grandmamma, requesting that Fitz-Ullin would go to her, as she was unable to leave her own apartment.
On obeying the summons he had received, Fitz-Ullin found his kind old friend sitting up in her bed, and Mr. Jackson and Julia with her, endeavouring to compose her spirits.
She was greatly affected on seeing Fitz-Ullin, and shed tears, which she had not before done; for there was, she said, a horror mingled with her sorrow for Henry, which would not suffer her to weep. She feared that he had died without a just sense of religion. Fitz-Ullin said, with some hesitation, that he had latterly possessed much of Henry’s confidence, and that he had reason to believe that he had fixed his hopes of happiness, (in this life at least,) where no ungentle feeling could find a place—where, indeed, scarcely a temptation to err could have reached him, and where the purest Christian principles would have been daily cultivated by the hand of domestic affection; and that such ties, he should hope, no man would voluntarily seek while he continued to be the sport of unfixed opinions, or the slave of irregular habits. Julia and Fitz-Ullin left Mrs. Montgomery’s room together. As soon as he had closed the door, he stopped short, took one of her hands in both of his, and looked full in her face with an expression of tender, or rather kindly enquiry, for there was no presumption in his manner. He pronounced her name, then paused. She met his scrutinizing gaze with a countenance, first of surprise, and, finally, displeasure, withdrew her hand, and, without speaking, preceded him to the drawing-room.
… “Thou standest charg’d With murder, monstrous and deliberate!”
The next day the papers were filled with an account of the trial of the murderers of Mr. Henry St. Aubin. The murder was proved; yet, strange to say, the murderers were acquitted.
The Captain of the privateer spoke his own defence. He was, he said, a Frenchman fighting for his country. He was not, even by the laws of war, a prisoner; for he had not lowered his colours. He had as good a right to recover possession of his ship as the English had in the first instance to capture her; and if lives were lost in the struggle, it was but the fate of war.
This defence was admitted, and the midnight murderer of his own son acquitted by the blindness of mortal judgment.
The papers proceeded to state that the murderers having been remanded for a fresh trial on fresh charges, the principal was found the next morning alone in the prison with his brains beat out. The black had made his escape. The particulars were supposed to be as follows: The villains had first, it would appear, by their united strength, forced a bar of their window. From the bloody appearance at one end of the heavy iron weapon thus obtained, and the battered state of the head of the privateer captain, it was quite evident that the black had used the bar to knock down and murder his master; whom, as the wretch was his inferior in strength, he must have taken unawares. A large wound on the back of the head of the deceased, strengthened this opinion. It was supposed that the black’s motive for committing this crime, must have been his knowledge of where to lay his hands on the ill-gotten wealth of his master, of which he hoped thus to obtain undisturbed possession. The papers further stated, as the reason why the prisoners had been remanded, that the magistrates had had information respecting the privateer captain having been largely concerned both with pirates and smugglers on various parts of the coast. One very suspicious circumstance was, they ascertained, clearly proved, namely, his identity as the individual who had for so many years imposed on the inhabitants of Whitehaven and its vicinity, by passing for a madman, and calling himself Sir Sydney Smyth. The very nature of the derangement he thus feigned afforded a pretext for lounging about the quays and the coast at all hours. On reading this paragraph, Lord L⸺ and Mr. Jackson exchanged looks.
“Near some fen shall my nameless tomb be seen: It shall arise without song. My lone spirit, Wrapped in mist, shall sail o’er the reedy pool, And never on their clouds with heroes join.”
The body of Henry arrived. The day of the funeral came, and passed. Still the silence of Fitz-Ullin towards Julia continued, and her’s towards him was equally remarkable. Not that he now avoided her, as he had done on board the Euphrasia; on the contrary, he rather sought to be near her; but his close attention to all she said or did, seemed a sort of scrutiny, and gave her more pain than pleasure. He now indeed appeared even to court occasions of being alone with her; yet, when such did occur, he spoke little, and on indifferent subjects, and maintained the air of one who expected some communication to be made to him. While Julia met his strange manner with a studied coldness of deportment, which seemed to forbid all recurrence to the past, the ungenerous determination he appeared to have formed of reading her heart, whilst he refrained from entitling himself to do so, at length aroused her to self-defence at least, if not to indignation. She was weary of the inward humiliation of feeling, that her heart beat responsive to every alternation of his manner; that the tone of his voice, the turn of his eye, could make her happy or miserable. Yet, was she still weak enough to be less positively wretched than she would else have been, from the idea that, unworthy and impertinent as his conduct appeared, she could not be quite an object of indifference to him, or he would not study her as he did. He did not watch every look, every word when Frances spoke, or was spoken to. The subject, however, was one on which she now shrank from speaking, even to Frances; and one on which that kind and considerate sister felt that, it would be as indelicate as useless to speak to her. Frances did certainly more than once observe, with a warmth which Julia but too well understood, how disagreeable rank and fortune had made Edmund; with his Lady Julia L⸺, and Lady Frances L⸺, adding, “I declare I am sometimes going to laugh, only I am so angry I could almost cry; it does seem so ridiculous!”
While Julia’s manners were such as we have described, in those of Lord L⸺ there was a daily increasing haughtiness, and in his politeness an attention to forms, calculated to remind a guest that he was not at home. Frances, too, though still friendly, was less a sister than formerly. Fitz-Ullin seemed to feel all this, for he began to talk of leaving Lodore, though the Euphrasia was not ready for sea, Mrs. Montgomery, indeed, was still kind, and, while he sat at her bed-side, she would still call him Edmund, look anxiously in his face, shake her head, and tell him he was not happy. She would then rally him about Lady Susan; calling the affair his boyish disappointment. Then she would wish he could make a second choice, and give her the joy of seeing him happy before she died.
A secret association of ideas in the good old lady’s mind, would lead her to talk, very soon after, of Julia.
On such occasions Fitz-Ullin’s colour would come and go; yet, even with this affectionate friend, he continued silent. At length his spirits becoming evidently more depressed, he announced his determination of taking his departure immediately, as he wished, he said, to visit Ayrshire before the Euphrasia was ready for sea, that he might make one more effort on behalf of Arthur, though with scarcely a hope of success; Lady Oswald having already made every exertion. But, young Oswald having no title to show, it was found impossible to disturb the present possessors. If, however, the title-deeds could be found, it was the opinion of counsel, that there would be no difficulty in recovering the property, as the papers themselves would shew (what was well known, though it could not be legally proved,) that Sir Archibald had no power to dispose of more than his life interest in the estates.
“When the will’s at enmity with the task before us, we love to dally in performance.”
Fitz-Ullin was now on the point of quitting Lodore. Yet he lingered. There seemed to be something that he wished to say, or do, before he went; still he did nothing, and said little. At length, finding Julia one morning alone in the library, he took a seat beside her. She trembled visibly; yet were her feelings not altogether painful: there was a strange mixture of hope. He remained for a long time silent, either mastering some emotion, or considering how to commence. “Julia,” he at last said, for, in his agitation, he forgot the title; “do not mistake me! do not suppose that I mean to speak of myself, or of my own feelings; I am too well aware what yours have been, to be guilty of conduct so indelicate. Have been, did I say? rather, what I must suppose they still are, though you have, Julia, so well, so wonderfully maintained the struggle, so successfully concealed every emotion. But surely, those sentiments, however tenderly cherished their secret remembrance may be, and I confess, though such a declaration from me may seem strange, I confess that, even I, who have had so much cause to mourn that ever they found a place in your bosom, even I should not like to see you capable of the levity, of casting them thence in a moment. But, as I was about to say, surely they need not deprive me of that sisterly regard, that calm, unimpassioned friendship, which is all I ask; and which you have even so often promised me should be mine for ever. If I, too, must resign every warmer feeling, need I be deprived, also, of this sweet solace, without which the burden of existence is intolerable! Julia, you look shocked, you look offended. I had not dared to have entered on such a topic—but—but—your surprising self-command deceived me: I thought you could have borne it better. And—and—I did suppose, that the bitterness of my own disappointed hopes might have been some apology; that—I might have been heard, with pity, at least.”
“Is he mad?” thought Julia. “Does he deem it necessary to apologize to me, because his lingering love for another will not suffer him to offer me more than friendship? And does he, can he mean to tell me to my face, that he has long seen my weak, wretched, mean devotion to himself, yet cannot return it? And, therefore, he would school me into moderating my attachment for him—rendering it of a calmer—nay—a less impassioned nature! Good heavens, is it come to this?”
With these thoughts passing rapidly through her mind, she had risen from her seat while he was yet speaking. She now stood, for a few moments, motionless, and covered with burning blushes; then, clasping her hands and lifting her eyes to heaven, but without suffering them, for an instant, to meet Fitz-Ullin’s, she turned, and fled the room.
Arrived in her own, she sat down, unable even to think! A summons to dinner was the first thing that aroused her, (though two full hours had elapsed). It found her cold, and pale; while her eyes were so disfigured by the traces of tears, she had been long unconsciously shedding, that she was obliged to excuse herself from appearing at dinner.
When she was next in company with Fitz-Ullin, which was, of necessity, that evening, she carefully avoided meeting his eyes, keeping her own always on the ground. She never addressed him; when he addressed her, she answered, without looking up, and by monosyllables pronounced in a voice scarcely audible, and immediately spoke to some one else. Fitz-Ullin seemed conscious that he had committed some error; for more than once in the course of the evening, he found an opportunity when none were near, to entreat her pardon in a low, hurried tone. He received neither word nor look in reply.
… “How thy cheek Doth vary! But now, with feverish glow It burnt, kindling as thou spakest, and now White, and cold, it glistens in thy damp tears, Like the pale lily in the morning dew. Oh! shake not thus my soul, Comala!”
“Tomorrow, at sunrise! so soon, so soon?”
The next day Fitz-Ullin found it impossible to be a moment alone with Julia. She fled all such occasions, with a species of terror, which astonished him. In the evening he met her suddenly in the shrubbery.
“What can I have done, Julia?” he said, snatching the tremulous hand with which she was hastily endeavouring to open a little paling gate for the purpose of turning into another walk, evidently to avoid him. “Am I no longer that Edmund whom you have honoured with the name of brother, since—since before you could pronounce the word distinctly? Or can I be expected to forget, entirely, that you are still the same Julia, the same dearest, best beloved object of my earliest, and fondest affections!—” He stopped short suddenly, as though he had been betrayed into expressions he had not meant to use. Julia’s lip trembled, her eyes were fixed on the ground, and every feature convulsed by efforts to restrain her tears.
“I see I am but adding to my offence,” he recommenced, “I but seem to you to insult feelings which ought now to be sacred; with which, you think, and justly, I ought not, on the strength of my knowledge of them, to trifle: nor do I, heaven knows, entertain such a thought! But, what have I done? why must I be denied your friendship? the continuation of your confidence? Do not mistake me! Mine, Julia, mine are, I repeat it, but the claims of a brother.”
Julia’s colour rose. “For heaven’s sake, what do you mean? what do you dare to mean?” she exclaimed, and wrenching her hand from him, without waiting his reply, she hastened to the house. He attempted to follow; but she waved to him, to remain where he was. That evening, Julia avoided him more than ever; and with an expression, too, on her countenance, of less gentle displeasure than she had ever before evinced. When she was leaving the supper room, he added to his good night, “I am going to-morrow; early, very early;” extending, at the same time, a hand to each of the sisters.
These words arrested the step of Julia for a moment. She yielded a trembling hand, and attempted to utter a good night.
“A moment the sun stood on the mountains; The mists of the night he roll’d from their sides, Blaz’d, and ascended the heavens.”
“Yes—yes—It is the form of Fingall!—Now The blast rolls it together—gradual Vanish his stately limbs, and mingle with The mountain mist.”
In the morning Julia stole from the side of Frances, at a very early hour, and seated herself near a window. For a time all was still. At length she heard a step in the hall, then a gentle tap at a, not very distant, room door; then, the well known voice of Fitz-Ullin answering from within with that urbanity of tone for which he was so remarkable, the servant who had told him the hour. This was followed by various slight noises; then the wheels of a carriage on the gravel beneath her window; then Fitz-Ullin’s step, quitting his apartment, and crossing the hall; then the clap of the carriage-door, followed immediately by the sound of the wheels again, but in quicker motion than before. She now saw Fitz-Ullin’s travelling carriage drive away. As it turned, in doing so, she caught, through a screen of jessamine, which, overgrowing her window, concealed her, one momentary view of the countenance of our hero. It was very pale, and he was looking towards the very window so screened, with a settled melancholy of expression, which seemed to convey to Julia’s heart a presentiment that they should never meet again.
She had maintained all this time an unnatural degree of composure; a passion of tears now came to her relief. Till being reminded by a slight movement of Frances, that, should her sister awake and speak to her, all reserve must, she felt, henceforward be at an end, and a contemptible weakness, for which she heartily despised herself, be thus exposed, she determined to steal out softly to the breakfast room, where, throwing herself on a sofa, she lay in all the listlessness of despondency for an hour and half, at the end of which time she was aroused by the sound of a carriage driving up to the door. Her heart palpitated violently. “What can have brought him back?” she thought. She heard a bustle in the hall, and one of the men servants’ voices calling to Alice, and enquiring if Lady Julia was up yet. Shortly after, steps approached the door of the breakfast room, it opened.
… “Her moist eye turned towards Lena’s heath: She listen’d to the rustling blast For the tread of Fingall. She heard my steps Approaching; joy arose in her face; But sorrow returned like a vapoury cloud Spread o’er the moon, when we see it’s form still, But without its brightness.”
Gotterimo, carrying a small box and parcel, was ushered in by Alice. Never did our old acquaintance meet with a reception so little cordial from Julia. She had fully expected to see Fitz-Ullin enter, and, possessed with that idea, had sprung from the sofa, placed herself at a table, flung open a large volume before her, and arranged the expression of her countenance, for the purpose of meeting him with proper dignity. The bows and smiles, therefore, of the little pedlar but poorly compensated for her disappointment.
Unwelcomed, he approached and laid down the box and parcel. The latter, on having the silk handkerchief in which it was tied, removed, and coming in contact with the table, resolved itself into numerous loose letters, which, escaping from the piece of red tape that once had confined them, spread themselves before the eyes of our heroine. They were evidently old ones, many of them being much discoloured and abused, and the seals, seemingly, of all broken.
Gotterimo, with an air of mingled mystery and self-gratulation, said, “Dis be your ladyship box of de fine ting. I have show it to de captain, (nice gentleman is de captain!) I vos bring it to your ladyship vid dese letters, for dis reason, dat von of dem be direct to you ladyship. So I have told him, but he no look. He desire me no show dem to him, nor odder person but you ladyship, because de be vid you ladyship box, and so de must belong you ladyship.”
Julia saw, by a single glance at the box, that it was that which had contained her jewels, and which had been taken out of her room on the memorable evening that she had been carried away from Lodore House. “It is certainly my box,” she said, “but where in the world did you find it, Mr. Gotterimo?”
“I have got all dese tings, madam, in a vey dat be var strange. I vil just take to mineself de liberty to tell you ladyship, if it be not von great trouble, fen you listen.”
“Oh no,” said Julia, “pray, how was it?”
“You see, madam,” he commenced, “I am now, tank to you ladyship and you good family, do var vell in de vorld. I have got, you see, de big shop dat be de broker shop, so vel as mine pretty little shop for de fine ting. So, fen de prize agent people be selling de property out of de big privateer ship, I did go to buy de bargain. And so I do buy, vid odder tings, de von big chest, var cheep; and I vos tink, von day, to make mine chest var clean, and I jump in mineself, and up jump de von bottom, and in between de two bottom vos dis little box. So, fen I did open de little box, I see in it all de fine ting belong you ladyship. Oh, de did look so pretty, all in dere own place shining! de make me tink (do not be angry, madam; I shake mine head, so dat de tought might not come; but de tought vos coming vidout my leave) how much money de vould sell for. But I say to myself, no, Gotterimo, de be de fine ting of de lady dat be so goot to me; so I vill take dem to her myself. She have pay for dem before, and she sall have dem now for nottin.”
Julia’s hand, meantime, had passed lightly over the loose heap of letters that lay on the table before her. As they slid aside at her touch, her eye had been caught by the hand-writing in which one, addressed to herself, was directed. Her colour had fled, and returned of a deeper dye, in almost the same moment.
“Is this soft hand thy answer? or that look, Which, though so soon withdrawn, too gentle seem’d For harsh denial’s herald; or that blush Which now, o’er thy snowy beauty spreading, Heightens all thy loveliness!”
“And when those gentle eyes, thus rais’d to mine, Melt in my ardent gaze; yet willing not With haste ungracious to reprove my love, A moment tremble ere they fall again; Oh, ’tis a feeling not of earth! ’tis one Which man’s experience hath not taught him how To shape in words.”
She had opened the letter, was reading, and had become so much absorbed, that she had not only ceased to hear what Gotterimo said, but was no longer conscious even of his presence. He began to perceive this, and with instinctive politeness, though with a feeling of much disappointment, first became silent, and then, fearing he might be troublesome, after fidgeting a little, and coughing once or twice, left the room.
Julia, without perceiving his departure, continued reading till she had twice begun and twice finished the letter. Then, laying it open on her bosom, and crossing her hands upon it, she raised her streaming eyes to heaven. The door from the library opened: she withdrew her eyes from their upward gaze, and they rested on Fitz-Ullin. “Oh, Edmund!” she exclaimed, and hastily presenting the letter to him, she covered her face with both her hands, and leaned on the table. Fitz-Ullin glanced at the open letter, and found it to be one which he himself had written to our heroine above a year before.
“Why, Julia,” he said, “should this letter, which you have replied to so fully, so decidedly, and so long since, now seem to surprise or agitate you?”
“I never replied to it! I never received it! I never saw it till this moment!” said Julia.
“What, Julia!” exclaimed Fitz-Ullin, sinking on one knee beside her, and drawing both her hands, from before her face, “do you indeed tell me that you have not, in reply to that letter, rejected the heart and hand it offers?—rejected them, too, on the plea of a prior and long cherished attachment to another, that other—the unfortunate Henry St. Aubin?”
“Oh, never! never!” exclaimed Julia, with a fervour of manner, tone of voice, and expression of countenance, which carried at once conviction and happiness to the heart of Edmund. That look, that manner, not only said, “I have not rejected,” they also said, “I will accept!” Fitz-Ullin gazed upon her for some moments in the silence of powerful emotion. “Julia,” he said, at length, in a voice scarcely audible, “what a load of misery you have removed from my heart!”
She returned the pressure of his hand without affectation of reserve; but without the power to speak. “Heavens,” he continued, after a short pause, “that horrible certainty in which every sense has been spell-bound for the last twelve months of wretchedness, was then but a dream! Oh, Julia, how gladly do I awake from it!” Their eyes met as he spoke; nor were hers immediately withdrawn, though their lids trembled beneath the ardour of his gaze. The Julia and Edmund of former days seemed suddenly restored to each other after a long, long separation: each seemed to read the heart of the other, each wondered that they could have doubted the truth of the other. Both had been silent for some time. “Julia,” said Fitz-Ullin, at length, in a low, entreating voice, recollecting, though it must be confessed, without much alarm, that Julia, though she had denied having rejected him, had not yet said one word about accepting him, “how can I trust to the presumptuous hopes with which my heart now throbs—how can I dare to be thus happy till you have pronounced my fate, till you have actually said that you will be mine!” Julia replied only by a look. “I may then,” said Fitz-Ullin, in a low whisper, “speak to Lord L⸺, as authorised by you?”
Julia breathed a very inaudible sort of a yes; and Fitz-Ullin, who, to hear the important monosyllable, had been obliged to venture his face into a very dangerous neighbourhood, expressed his delighted gratitude by as many demonstrations of the feelings that said little word of mighty consequences had inspired, as he dare well evince; but, as to what exactly he said or did on the occasion, it is by no means necessary to the development of our narrative to record.
Julia no longer venturing to look up, her eyes rested, as a sort of excuse for looking down, on the open letter, which, having escaped from Fitz-Ullin’s hand, now lay on her knee. As she dwelt on the expressions it contained of passionate tenderness dictated by the pure enthusiasm of a First Love, the harrowing descriptions of poor Edmund’s struggles with his own heart, while he had believed himself an obscure and nameless being altogether unworthy of her, her tears flowed silently, except that such was the stillness of all else, that the fall of each on the paper might be distinctly heard. Fitz-Ullin watched her with inexpressible delight, fearing to breathe, lest he should interrupt her. At length, tempted by the tear, or the smile, or both, to see what parts of his letter so much affected her, he approached his face nearer the paper, (for he was still kneeling,) and read with her, adding emphasis to each tender expression by a gentle pressure of one, or both the hands he still held.
“When did you write this letter, Edmund?” she at length asked.
“On the very day,” he replied, “on which I became acquainted with my birth, when poor Ormond’s rash attempt to put an end to his existence prevented my setting out instantly for Lodore, which I was, indeed, as the letter mentions, in the very act of doing when the alarm was given; for I had long enough vainly struggled with my feelings, while duty and honour forbade me to declare them; another moment of suspense, therefore, when those obstacles were removed, seemed not to be endured!”
“And did you say, then, that you received a letter in reply purporting to be from me?” asked Julia, “and——”
“I did,” answered Fitz-Ullin, “written in your name, and to all appearance your hand, and even style. I have preserved it, and can shew it you. It contains a gentle, very kindly worded, but, as I mentioned, decided rejection of the proposals made in my letter; and states, as the reason of that rejection, a secret, long cherished attachment, and engagement to Henry, to whom it declares you betrothed. It then reminds me, in the most seemingly artless and confiding manner, of many little circumstances I must myself have observed; and entreats me to keep inviolable the secret thus entrusted to me, either till you should obtain Lord L⸺’s consent, or, when of age, have taken some decided step. It farther requests me, not to make known to any of your family my wishes, lest they should urge your acceptance of my hand. And, finally, it commands me on pain of forfeiting your friendship for ever, no more to renew the subject to yourself, by the slightest allusion to it; even in any private interview that might occur.
“On receiving this letter, I passed some days in a species of delirium; I scarcely knew what happened, but that I still continued apparently in attendance on the sick bed of Ormond; while horrible visions haunted me of every circumstance which had at any time raised for a moment suspicions of a secret understanding subsisting between you and your cousin. These were now received as fatal proofs, which long before ought to have opened my eyes. The past, with all its blissful, though presumptuous hopes, was changed in a moment into a wilderness on which I dared not look back! I know I wrote to Mrs. Montgomery, and endeavoured to observe your supposed injunction of secrecy; but, of what I said, I have scarcely an idea. My letter must have been wildly and strangely worded.”
“That letter,” said Julia, and she smiled archly, though blushingly, “we all thought was written, in consequence of your disappointment, (as we believed) about Lady Susan. Her marriage, you know, took place just at that time. And that unfortunate being, Henry too,” she added, “confirmed this opinion, by declaring that he was in your confidence; and saying, that you had also written to him on the subject, quite in despair!”
Fitz-Ullin could not help smiling in his turn, at the idea of his being in despair about Lady Susan.
“On me too,” he rejoined, “Henry forced, what he termed confidence. He has even given me to read, on our last voyage, passages, purporting to be from your correspondence with himself, and containing messages to me, reiterating your injunctions of secrecy. And once, he showed me a picture, which he said you had given him, asking if I thought it like. It was like, really like. Judge with what feelings I must have seen him approach it to his lips, and replace it in his bosom! A heart-sickening sensation followed, and my selfish regrets were, for a time, lost in the certainty that you had cast away the inestimable treasure of your affections on a man who did not truly love you; for, I felt that one who did, had been incapable of the indelicate display I had just witnessed.” Here Fitz-Ullin unconsciously sighed, as though the sense of present felicity had been overborne by the painful recollections which pressed upon him, then added: “After this, every circumstance, and when we met again, Julia, every look and word was misconstrued by me into confirmations of that fatal belief, which, from the moment it took possession of me, poisoned my very existence, and benumbed every faculty but that of suffering! Why, Julia, in that agonizing interview in the refreshment room at Lord L⸺’s, such was the infatuation of my despair, that I believed we fully understood each other. You seemed to me to acknowledge, that you had received my proposals; for you even said that my letter had given you much pain; I thought of course, you spoke of this letter.”
“I meant,” interrupted Julia, “the then last one to grandmamma, which gave us all pain, it was written in so desponding a manner. But,” she continued, colouring a little, “you spoke, just now, of—of—circumstances, which had raised momentary suspicions.” This opening led to a conversation, in which the fears for our hero’s safety which had so long influenced the conduct of Julia towards her cousin, were confessed; and the system of terror practised by Henry, developed. A burst of fond and grateful emotion on the part of Fitz-Ullin followed, by which Julia was so much affected, that when she tried to speak, her lip trembled, and she was unable to articulate. She tried to smile, but the struggle was too much for her: she wept and laughed alternately, till she alarmed Fitz-Ullin so much, that he would have been almost tempted to have called for assistance, could he well have withdrawn his own support. Before Julia had half recovered, Frances entered. She was tripping lightly towards the bell, to ring for breakfast; when, perceiving her sister and our hero, she stopped in the middle of the room, the very statue of surprise! Julia disengaged herself, hastily; discovering, just at this moment, that the assistance which had hitherto been so indispensable as to render it quite proper, had now ceased to be necessary. Fitz-Ullin started up, and, flying towards Frances, seemed to meditate a rather familiar species of salutation. But she stepped back. She had, by this time, made a choice of her own, and was not disposed to be embraced, as formerly, only for her sister’s sake. She extended her hand, however, which he took and kissed, as with an expression of delight on his countenance which she had not seen it wear for a long period, and which looked like the sunshine of the first bright day after a dreary winter, he exclaimed, “Frances, I am now indeed your brother!”
Frances approached her sister, who threw herself into her arms, and hid her face in her bosom, whispering: “Oh, Frances, how happy I am. You were quite right, Edmund never loved any one but me!” Frances smiled archly, and looking in her sister’s face, whispered, “FIRST LOVE! Julia.”
Lord L⸺ entered the room at this moment; and Fitz-Ullin, seeing the sisters thus engaged with each other, heroically resolved on the mighty sacrifice, of tearing himself a moment from Julia’s presence, for the purpose of confirming his happiness. He hastened forward, therefore, and meeting Lord L⸺, requested a few minutes private conversation with him. His lordship bowed assent. They retired. Fitz-Ullin, on entering the library, grasped Lord L⸺’s hand, and named Julia. Lord L⸺ looked dignified, and at a loss.
“I have loved her,” said Fitz-Ullin, “from the days of childhood to the present hour!”
“What, then, could have induced you to keep your sentiments so long a secret?” said Lord L⸺. “But, I will confess, Fitz-Ullin——” Here the gentlemen proceeded with mutual confessions; till, being quite satisfied with the knowledge thus obtained of each other’s private opinions, they re-entered the breakfast-room, with countenances of the most perfect good humour. Lord L⸺ sought the eye of Julia; and when he caught it for a moment, smiled with a look, which added yet a tinge to the blush that already dyed her cheek. She stood in the recess of a glass-door, apart. Fitz-Ullin was soon at her side. In a low whisper, and without looking up, she said, “I should like to speak to grandmamma before we sit down to breakfast, and you may follow me.” Both glided out unperceived.
“Ye shall part no more.”
Our hero and heroine re-entered the house by a similar glass-door, leading into Mrs. Montgomery’s dressing-room, and were soon hand in hand at her bed-side.
“My children,” said the good old lady, looking kindly at them, “how happy you both look this morning.”
“I, ma’am,” said Fitz-Ullin, “am the happiest of all mortal beings! Julia—my own Julia, whom I have loved from the moment when you first placed her, not an hour old, in my arms, that Julia—that cherished object of my earliest and fondest affections—of my _First Love_, and of the only love my heart ever knew, or ever can know, is now mine for ever; by her own and by Lord L⸺’s consent—mine for ever!”
Mrs. Montgomery looked at Julia, whose blushes, as she embraced her grandmamma, confirmed what Fitz-Ullin had said. “Kneel, my children,” said the old lady, in a faltering tone. “It is as it should be!” and she rose in her bed as she spoke, and blessed them tenderly and solemnly, uniting their hands; while Mr. Jackson entering, a species of explanation was given, in which, however, the name of Henry was not mentioned. Mrs. Montgomery, detaining Julia, dismissed both the gentlemen. They, before their return to the breakfast-room, took a short walk on the lawn, during which Fitz-Ullin made Mr. Jackson acquainted with those particulars respecting the conduct of Henry, which it had been necessary to conceal from Mrs. Montgomery. Thus satisfying his kind preceptor of his reasons for not only concealing his attachment to Julia, but suffering every one to believe him lost to his friends and to society, from the effects of a disappointment in another quarter.
“Keep still in fortune’s way, her unmeant gifts Are oft the best!”
On entering the breakfast-room, they found that Lady Oswald had by this time joined the party there.
Her ladyship contrived by looks, a kind pressure of the hand, and a well-timed whisper, to shew her nephew that she was fully prepared to congratulate him on his new found happiness.
Frances had, at length, completed her journey to the bell, and by agitating it, had occasioned, though at a later hour than usual, the appearance of a steaming tea-urn, hot rolls, &c. &c. She now began to dispense the good things over which she presided, and had just requested Fitz-Ullin to ring the bell for Alice to take her grandmamma’s breakfast, when the door opened, and, supported on one side by our old friend, Mrs. Smyth, and on the other by Julia, Mrs. Montgomery herself appeared. Whether it was the extreme contrast between the figures of the very old and the very young lady, or the amiable light in which youth always appears, while rendering support to the infirmities of age, or whether Julia might, for any reasons best known to herself, be really looking more blooming or more happy than usual, or whether there was any thing in Fitz-Ullin’s own thoughts which diffused a peculiar lustre over the charms of her he now viewed, almost for the first time as his own, or, whether all these causes operated together; certain it is, he found one moment to think her more lovely, more irresistibly attractive than ever, before the bustle immediately occasioned by Mrs. Montgomery’s entrance, commenced. It was the first time that lady, so deservedly the object of the love and veneration of all, had left her room since she had heard of Henry’s death. Every one rose to meet her—every one hailed her approach with a joyful welcome—and even Fitz-Ullin himself, in all the hurry of his spirits, had the presence of mind to remember the great chair in which she usually sat, and to place it for her. He also succeeded in finding the foot-stool, after twice stumbling over it in the course of his researches; and was, at length, amply rewarded by perceiving, at the conclusion of his labours, that the seat next to Julia had, by general consent, been left for him.
Though the breakfast was rather a late one, seldom has there been a meal at which all who sat down to it were so truly happy. Those most interested, indeed, were almost too much so for enjoyment. The heart scarcely knows how, thus quickly, to appropriate so much new found felicity: at one moment it doubts the reality of the very bliss it feels, and the next trembles at being the repository of so great a treasure.
The breakfast was ended, but no one moved; all seemed unwilling to break up so happy an assembly. Meanwhile, ungrateful world, the author, or at least the importer of so much joy, was, in the very intensity of that joy, totally forgotten, till an exclamation from Arthur, of “Oh, how beautiful!” drew pretty general attention towards the small table, on which the restored jewel box still stood open.
“That’s true!” said our heroine: “where is poor Gotterimo? I have not thanked him for his honesty in bringing back these things. I forget, too, where it was he said he found them.”
“Oh, Lady Oswald!” exclaimed Fitz-Ullin, “I forgot to mention it before, but—” and, making two strides into the library, and one back, carrying a pile of parchment, he continued—“Here are the title-deeds of Arthur’s estates.” Lady Oswald was near fainting. Frances was obliged to assist in supporting her.
“Why, Fitz-Ullin! where, in the name of all that is marvellous, did these come from?” said Lord L⸺, eagerly examining the parchments.
“I had them of the honest fellow who brought back Lady Julia’s diamonds,” answered Fitz-Ullin.
“But where?” “And when?” “And how?” vociferated many voices.
“I met with the poor man this morning,” replied our hero, “tumbled out of a gig on the high road, a few miles from hence. A couple of fellows were about to rob, and, I suppose, murder him—” Here numerous exclamations of horror and surprise interrupted the speaker. At length he was permitted to proceed. “The villains fled,” he continued, “at the first sound of my carriage-wheels; but, on driving up to the spot, I perceived a person lying on the side of the road, and desired my servants to stop and give any assistance in their power. While they did so, having ascertained that the man was not hurt, I leaned from the window, enjoying the freshness of the morning air, and began, I suppose, to think of something else; for I found, in a short time after, that the poor fellow had been throwing away many of his best bows, and repeating frequently, ‘How you do, sir?’ just under me, before I observed him. When I returned his salutation, he said, that he remembered me very well; for that he had seen me at the house of the good family, and that I was the nice Captain who had advised the lady to buy the chain. He then told me a very long story about a sea-chest, and about a box of jewels, that he knew to be the property of Lady Julia L⸺.”
“Yes,” interrupted Frances, “for the box is one which Julia happened to employ Gotterimo to purchase for her in town; he could have no doubt, therefore, to whom it belonged.”
“So he said,” rejoined our hero; “and that finding these parchments lying near the box, and with them some letters, one of which, he said, was directed to Lady Julia L⸺, he thought it most prudent to bring all to this house. On glancing at the parchments,” continued Fitz-Ullin, “which, as the little man concluded his recital, he produced and offered to me, and which bore their titles, in large characters, on their outsides, I perceived immediately their nature and importance; and decided on returning to Lodore, for the purpose of assisting Lady Oswald to establish the rights of Arthur, rendered, by the recovery of these documents, indisputable. As for the letters, I should have considered it an unwarrantable liberty in me to have examined even their outsides; I therefore recommended it to Gotterimo to deliver them himself, with the box, into Lady Julia’s own hands. This arrangement made, I returned as quickly as possible, and—”
“And, on your arrival,” interrupted Lady Oswald, who was now a little recovered, “forgot the very existence of Lady Oswald, title-deeds, pedlar and all! This account of the transaction, oh learned judges, wants that consistency which is characteristic of the simple truth,” added her ladyship, much amused.
Fitz-Ullin, who was saying something aside to Julia, coloured, laughed, and replied, “I read the deeds over very attentively, I assure you, ma’am, in the library, on my first getting out of the carriage, before I came into the breakfast-room.”
“Oh then, it was in the breakfast-room you happened to forget me and my parchments,” said Lady Oswald, with a significant look.
“What have we got here?” exclaimed Lord L⸺, examining a packet of the parchments, which proved to be distinct from the rest, though contained within the same outer envelope of grey linen, “why, here are the title-deeds of the Craigs!”
“Indeed! indeed!” cried various voices.
Gotterimo was now called for. “He was very useful in the recovery of the pictures and plate,” observed Lord L⸺. “By the bye, Fitz-Ullin,” he added, turning to our hero, “did you ever hear us mention that daring robbery at the Craigs?”
“Oh, yes,” replied our hero, “I was one of the luncheon party there the day it was discovered.” As he concluded, he looked at Julia, who looked again and smiled. What multitudes of thoughts, on both sides, crowded into that moment. “Well,” said Lord L⸺, “it was chiefly through the means of this Gotterimo, that the things have been recovered. He found out for us the persons to whom the swindler had pawned the articles, and though at the expense certainly of some of the savings of minority, we have succeeded in getting almost every thing into its place again.”
Gotterimo, who had been sent for, was now ushered in. Every one welcomed and thanked him, and commendations of his honourable and upright conduct, accompanied by assurances that his services should be handsomely rewarded, were poured upon him on all sides. The little English he possessed, was banished from his memory, bows and blushes were all the replies he could offer. The gentlemen then proceeded to question him respecting the mode of discovering the parchments, letters, &c. He could give little more information than had already been collected. After the particulars, therefore, were all recapitulated by him connectedly and at full length, he was dismissed, and commended to the care of Mrs. Smyth, a destination to which he had no objection, for poor Gotterimo had lately begun to have some hopes of rendering himself agreeable in the eyes of Alice Smyth, who was already very agreeable in his eyes.
Lord L⸺ requested Mr. Jackson to adjourn with him to the library, for the purpose of examining the packet of letters, which, having been found with the parchments, might possibly throw some light on the late mysterious business. His lordship had also the cruelty to ask Fitz-Ullin to assist them with his judgment. Our hero had just whispered a request to Julia to take a walk in the shrubbery, and had just received a smile in assent. What a disappointment!
… “Now, unfold the mystery.”
The trio of gentlemen proceeded to their task. The first epistle which was casually unfolded, exhibited but a few lines, wide asunder, and in their purport so unimportant, that Mr. Jackson flung the letter, spread open as it happened to be, on the top of the fire, and proceeded to take up a second. Lord L⸺, chancing to rest his eyes on the first while the heat was causing it to roll itself up, perceived, with some surprise, that the spaces between the lines, as well as all else that had appeared blank, was rapidly becoming, as by magic, covered with bright green characters. He snatched up the paper just as the devouring flame was about to envelope it, and succeeded in saving all but a small part. The green writing was in the hand of Henry; and, to the utter astonishment of all the party, addressed to his father—so long supposed dead. The contents of the letter equally puzzled and confounded our secret committee, and decided them on comparing all the hitherto unexamined, because supposed to be unimportant, papers of Henry with those before them.
They were accordingly sent for, and the letters on both sides found to present, in black ink, what appeared to be but the idle, careless correspondence of two young messmates, while, on being submitted to the ordeal of heat, they were all found to contain, in green writing, which, as it cooled, gradually disappeared again, the strange and mysterious communications, for many years, of father and son. From these letters the following wonderful discoveries were collected. The captain of the privateer, the murderer of the younger St. Aubin, was shown to be the elder St. Aubin—the father of the unfortunate Henry, who was thus proved to have died by the hand of a parent! The silent, heart-broken being, who had so tenderly watched Julia, and who, there can be little doubt, met her death by the explosion of the smuggler, it appeared from all the circumstances, was the ill-fated Maria, Mrs. Montgomery’s sister. She, it seems, as well as her depraved husband, had escaped from the wreck of the vessel in which they had both so many years since been supposed to be lost.
The vessel in question, it may be remembered, had specie on board. Some of the letters contained casual expressions, from which it might be gathered, that her foundering by night was not quite accidental. And one in particular, addressed by the elder St. Aubin to the younger, contained an account of his fortunate escape, as he termed it, with his black, as much of the money as could conveniently be carried, and his wife; and their landing on the coast of France. The money obtained by this very suspicious adventure seems, from many after-allusions, to have been the first setting up of the desperate St. Aubin, in his triple calling of pirate, privateer, and smuggler, carried on for so many years after, with various degrees of success.
The whole correspondence, from its commencement to its conclusion, proved that the St. Aubins, father and son, had, from Julia’s infancy, meditated, and ever since, step by step, proceeded with the plot for carrying her away, as soon as she should be of age. The spoils of her very large fortune, (rendered, by the death of Lady L⸺ and her infant son, unalienable,) they were ultimately to have divided, while the income of the Craigs would have been the present reward of their diabolical labours. Their victim, poor Julia, was to have been kept abroad, in strict concealment—the wife, by compulsion, of Henry, till cruel treatment and horrible threats should compel her to declare herself married to him by her own free choice. He was to have corresponded, meanwhile, in her name, with her family; having, it appeared, for this purpose, actually practised, for years, the imitation of her handwriting. It was also found that he had possessed himself of impressions of her seals, duplicates of her keys, &c. On the subject of his being the intercepter of Fitz-Ullin’s proposals, and the writer of Julia’s supposed rejection, there was a letter of his, which exulted in the fact, and related his good fortune in having himself taken the precious epistle, as he termed it, from the postman, and having been inspired to suspect the truth on seeing it directed to Julia, in our hero’s hand. There could be no doubt that Henry was also the author of all the other forged letters.
Parts of the correspondence contained expressions and allusions which proved that the elder St. Aubin was the person who, under the name of Lauson, and assisted with keys and vouchers provided by Henry, had stripped the Craigs of all its valuables. By the produce of these it appeared the necessary funds had been raised for carrying on the desperate design on Julia herself, shortly after attempted. It further appeared that, by a curious combination of circumstances, the St. Aubins had, since a short time before the memorable attempt on our hero’s life at the masquerade at Arandale, been acquainted with the real birth of Fitz-Ullin, then known as the poor Edmund Montgomery.
The circumstances were as follows. Jin of the Gins, (whose identity with the strolling beggar, who stole Edmund when a child, is not, we trust, forgotten,) had, it seems, been so long in the employ of the elder St. Aubin as a confidential agent for the concealment and disposal of smuggled goods, and the conduct of various other transactions of a like nature, that she had, in her turn, confided to him the secret of our hero’s birth, for the purpose of consulting him as to whether the said secret was, or was not marketable. She had even offered to go shares with him, provided he would assist her in making something of the business. He had, of course, dissuaded her from taking any step that might risk discovery before the marriage of Julia to Henry should be effected, after which he promised to put her in the way of extorting a sum, either from the nurse and her son for keeping the secret, or from Lord Fitz-Ullin, the father, then living, and Edmund his rightful heir, for disclosing it. All this was explained in a letter from the outlaw to his son, as an argument for redoubled vigilance in the watch the latter always kept over Julia and Edmund. In the elder St. Aubin’s next letter, his fears of the consequences of Julia’s attachment to our hero seem to have been much increased by some late accounts from Henry; for he even hints at how desirable it would be to rid themselves of all apprehension of danger from that quarter, and concludes by commanding his son to procure him a ticket to the Arandale masquerade, where, by approaching the parties in disguise, he should be enabled, he says, to judge himself of the urgency of the case. This epistle left no doubt that the elder St. Aubin had acted the part of the Indian juggler. Another letter contained allusions identifying him with the false pilot, who had attempted to run the Euphrasia aground at Leith.
In an early part of the correspondence the fate of poor Betsy Park was spoken of as having been untimely; but so darkly that whether the dreadful apprehensions which cost poor David his life, were well or ill founded must remain for ever involved in mystery. One of the letters of the elder St. Aubin, however, was of a very suspicious tendency, as it expressed the most unbridled rage towards Henry for having committed any folly which might ultimately interfere with the perfect legality of his projected marriage with Julia; adding, with savage ferocity, that whatever step his own imprudence had made necessary must be taken without flinching. Those letters may appear, considering the subjects of which they treat, to have been imprudently written: but the precaution of the invisible ink seems by the correspondents to have been thought all sufficient. It must also be observed that the information now obtained is collected from scattered hints darkly enough given, but elucidated on the present occasion by a comparison of both sides of the correspondence, a contingency scarcely to have been anticipated. That such letters, however, were not all regularly destroyed is only one proof more, added to the many already extant, of the glaring imprudence with which vicious proceedings of every description are almost invariably carried on.
Lord L⸺ expressed himself greatly shocked at those proofs of Henry’s depravity. “We certainly have before us,” rejoined Mr. Jackson, “melancholy evidence that he has, from a boy, lived the base tool of his desperate father, the convenient link of the outlaw with civilized society, the slave of a tyrant whom he could not love, yet, from the spell of habit unbroken from childhood, dared not resist. How he at last died by the hand of that parent, we have seen: and, that the blow by which he fell may be invested with its full portion of horror, we must remember that it was struck with the intent to murder, though not to murder Henry.”
“To facilitate the retaking of his ship,” said Fitz-Ullin, “by the death of the only officer on board, was, I should think, all that the elder St. Aubin could have had in view by his wanton assassination, in cold blood, of a person he believed to be a stranger.”
Henry’s having no knowledge to whom the privateer belonged, when he went on board her as prize-master, was accounted for by an attention to dates, which showed that she had been entirely fitted out and manned, since he, Henry, had last gone to sea in the Euphrasia. Each shocking discovery had been discussed, as the letter or letters throwing light on each, had been severally perused. The final decision of the gentlemen was, that none of the circumstances should ever be mentioned to Mrs. Montgomery; and that even to Julia and Frances, the disgusting scene of guilt and misery should be but partially, and gradually laid open.
Lord L⸺ was the first to leave the library: the retrospect of past years always spread a shade over his brow, and occasioned him to seek the retirement of his own apartment. Fitz-Ullin was also hurrying away, when Mr. Jackson drew him back, and, with a countenance of the deepest melancholy, showed him a letter which he had, he said, succeeded in setting apart while examining the papers.
This letter contained allusions to the death of Lady L⸺, worded in a style which made it appear but too probable, that there has been some foul play.
The vengeance which the elder St. Aubin had long since sworn to accomplish, and, in its accomplishment, to render his wretched child his tool, is adverted to in evident connexion with other allusions to the immense fortune thus by the nature of certain settlements, secured beyond contingency to a certain individual: expressions which, all circumstances considered, seemed scarcely to admit of other construction.
When Fitz-Ullin had finished the perusal of the lines pointed out to him, both gentlemen looked at each other for some seconds in silence. Mr. Jackson then, taking the letter from the hand of our hero, said solemnly, “With your approval, my Lord, I shall commit this paper to the flames: the surmise it suggests, is too horrible to be suffered to poison the future reflections of a bereft husband.
“If the crime which that surmise presents to the appalled imagination, has indeed been perpetrated, both the perpetrators already stand before a higher, and more unerring tribunal, than earth affords.” So saying, he flung the letter on the fire, and stood to see its last vestiges consumed.
“Precious is the return of that lost look Of love.”
… “Lighten’d glows each breast with rapture, Grateful now, too intense before!”
Fitz-Ullin, at length released, sought our heroine from room to room. That unreserved communication of sentiment with her which had been looked forward to with such intoxicating delight, was now anticipated with a sobered feeling: it was now longed for as a balm to heal a sickened, and if, in his circumstances, that were possible, an almost saddened spirit.
Julia was not to be found in the house; he therefore wandered into the shrubbery, where, at the very paling gate at which they had parted on such miserable terms the evening before, he perceived her, and Frances with her. The latter, however, with a sportive air, disappeared at sight of our hero, who, the next moment, stood before Julia. Scarcely had one smile beamed on him, ere all that had almost forced the blissful explanation of the morning from its first place in his mind, was forgotten. This same smile, to Fitz-Ullin, who for so long had not had even a smile, seemed all sufficient; for the lovers now walked on in silence. By the time, however, that they had completed the round of the wood-walk, as it is called, and re-entered the shrubbery at the further end, they appeared not only to have recovered the use of speech, but to have become quite confidential, for they now held between them an open letter, which they seemed to be reading together. From an observation which our hero made as they finished the perusal of the letter, it was probably the one which he had in the morning promised to show Julia, and which had cost both so much misery.
“That letter,” he said, “I cannot view without shuddering. It has so long governed my fate, that I shall never learn to consider it what it really is, a mere unimportant scrap of paper, blotted and rendered foul by falsehood!” Every hour of their past lives was now reviewed; every word, every look, adverted to; and one little spellword found, which, now that it might be spoken, reconciled every contradiction, and solved every mystery. The light, in short, of _First Love_, that brightest sunshine of the heart, was now flung back on the long perspective of years gone by, shedding its beams on the distant scene, and displaying, decked in their natural and pleasing colours, all those greenest spots on memory’s waste, which hopelessness had hitherto overshadowed, or treachery presented through its own false medium.
Such recapitulations, however, to all but the parties interested, might seem tedious; we shall not therefore go through all; yet, were they most natural in those, whose every feeling had been for so long put to the torture, by the cruelest misrepresentations of all that most concerned their happiness. It was no wonder that they were not satisfied by merely telling their understandings, with a sweeping clause, that all was just the contrary of what it had been, or rather of what it had appeared to be; they felt that they owed to themselves, as it were, the delight of reversing each individual picture, and that hearts so long inured to suffering, required to be soothed into a confidence in their own felicity, by dwelling for a time on its details.
The scene in the refreshment room was adverted to. “When you kindly spoke,” he said, “of the consolation I ought to derive from friendship, and of my disappointed hopes never having been well founded, how bitter were my feelings! I understood you to mean, coolly to inform me that, if I had ever entertained a hope of being acceptable to you, it was false and presumptuous! I almost felt resentment; for, shall I say it, Julia, I thought,” and he hesitated, “that you had not always treated me as—as honour and good feeling should have dictated to a woman, whose affections were engaged to another.”
“And I,” said Julia, colouring, “could not help thinking you very unkind and unfeeling, indeed, in rejecting, in the scornful and almost angry manner you did, my—all our friendship, and saying that the hope of being accepted by Lady Susan, (as I supposed,) was all that, in your eyes, had given value to existence!”
“Yes, Julia,” he said, “the hope I spoke of was, indeed, all that in my eyes gave value to existence!”
When they had thus discussed points of tenderer interest, and at length seated themselves in an arbour particularly well calculated for the reception of lovers, Edmund, after a short silence, said, rather suddenly, “What must you have thought, Julia, of my interference about Lord Surrel?”
“I was very much obliged,” she replied.
“Why, nothing could have justified me,” he continued, “but the belief, not only of your attachment, but of your engagement, and of my being the sole person to whom that engagement had been confided. Why, what could you have supposed when I requested a private interview, and commenced questioning you on such a subject?”
Julia did not reply; but she blushed, and looked away in so hurried a manner, that a sudden thought darted across the mind of Fitz-Ullin. He caught her hand, and looking in her face with the most curiously amused expression of countenance, said, “No, Julia, did you give my request the common interpretation?”
No reply from Julia; but the twisting away, or rather the trying to twist away of the hand, the deepening of the blush, the averting of the eyes, were confirmations all sufficient. Our hero could not help still smiling, while he tried to reconcile and to sooth. This, of course, offended more than it appeased, and the hand, though it had been kissed a thousand times, still manifested signs of being an unwilling captive. Fitz-Ullin was now obliged to apologize, so that all rational conversation was put an end to. Nay, he even knelt, and succeeded in making the other hand a prisoner; but notwithstanding all this humility of attitude, the countenance had, mixed with its absolute delight, a sort of triumph in the very fulness of his felicity, with which Julia could not yet bring herself to be quite as well pleased, as with that expression which she had often remarked on former occasions, when, by giving Edmund the hundredth part of a smile, she had made him look humbly happy. After a short pause, however, employed in making his peace as well as he might, he renewed the conversation by saying, “And what could you have thought, Julia, of my reiterated declarations, that mine were but the claims of a brother?” This was another of the subjects on which she could not reply, and he went on. “I believed you justly shocked at the idea that you were about to be addressed as a lover, by one who knew your melancholy secret; and that, too, so soon after the terrible death of poor Henry. I hastened to do away such a suspicion; for, if I had a selfish hope, it was a distant one of course, and one which I did not, at the time, distinctly confess, even to myself. Under the same false impressions I viewed, with utter amazement, the composure of countenance, voice, and manner, which you maintained, when things were said by others which I heard with terror, from the supposition that the very sounds must be shocking to your ears. When, for instance, Mr. Jackson read aloud the account of the trial, which, necessarily included the circumstances of the murder. The day of the funeral too; in short, I was thrown out of every calculation. I had expected to endure much from seeing you shed tears for one who, even in death, I could have envied any testimony of your affection; I had armed myself for this trial, severe as it must have proved, but I was altogether unprepared to find the being I had loved for the tenderness of her nature, the innocence of her heart, totally without feeling, or a consummate actress, or worse, a creature capable of having formed, from mere levity, without even the excuse of a sincere though misplaced attachment, an engagement, unsanctioned by a father, and imprudent in itself.
“That I should ever be able to win the love of one whose very friendship I had lost by declaring my attachment, one whom I now appeared to inspire with dread, was a thing quite hopeless. I saw, indeed, what were Lord L⸺’s flattering wishes. The very idea seemed to shake the powers of my mind, to darken my judgment, madden my passions, and harden my heart; for there were moments of bitterness, in which I asked myself, should I set your feelings at defiance, and avail myself of Lord L⸺’s authority to obtain you! The thought was of course rejected with disdain; but, its ever having crossed my imagination, was sufficient to prove, that I was no longer master of myself.”
“I wish, Edmund,” said Julia, when in the evening the lovers again directed their steps towards the shrubbery walk, “you would tell me what it was that caused your peculiar austerity of manner on board the Euphrasia.”
“Why, that is a question which I cannot very well answer, Julia,” said Fitz-Ullin, smiling and taking her hand. She persisted, however. “You must remember,” he said at length, “that I believed you perfectly acquainted with my sentiments. In the innocent friendship of your manner, therefore, I saw—what appeared to me, seeing through a false medium, the weakness, if I must say it, of a woman who could not altogether resign the admiration of, even a rejected lover. And, in a woman who was herself engaged, it seemed doubly cruel, to foster with smiles (that, to one who already loved, and believed his love known to her who smiled, must bewilder every sense; and that for the mere idle gratification of vanity,) an unfortunate passion which she could not return, which, in fact, she had already cast from her!”
“My own Julia!” he exclaimed, suddenly stopping short and taking both her hands, “you really look as much condemned as if I had brought this horrible accusation against your pure innocent self in due form; but,” he added, “you must consider that when we are very miserable, we are never very just to those who cause our suffering! Weak too as I thought your conduct, its effects were too much for my strength of mind: I felt that it was dangerous to be near you. In how different a light would all that imagination thus misconstrued have appeared, could I have suspected that it was generous pity for my supposed disappointment about Lady Susan which gave that dangerous softness to your manner, unchecked by any idea that my feelings towards yourself had ever been other than those of an adopted brother. And now, Julia, it is your turn to make confessions: do tell me what crowning of all my presumption was it, of which you suspected me when, no later than last evening, your gentle nature was, at length, provoked to say, ‘What can you mean? What can you dare to mean?’” She appeared very unwilling to reply; he entreated her to tell him, at least, to what feelings of hers it was she thought he meant to allude. At length she stammered out, “I suppose—I thought—I—must have thought—you meant—my—my—regard for—for yourself.”
A delighted smile grew gradually over the features of Fitz-Ullin as he bent his head, trying to follow the downcast eyes, and catch the broken accents of the speaker. “But how then,” he whispered, “did you account for my not gladly, delightedly availing myself of—of—your—amiable condescension?”
What words Julia found, or whether she found any, in her opinion, sufficiently delicate by which to express that she had understood him to have apologized more than once for not being able to return the secret affection he had discovered her to entertain for him, we cannot exactly say, for here the scene closes. No very serious misunderstanding, however, appears to have ensued, for the lovers returned to tea with perfectly happy faces, and, during that cheerful ceremony, Edmund’s delight assumed almost an extravagant cast, while Julia actually began to prefer his looking quite happy to that more humble expression of dependance on her sovereign will and pleasure for the slightest portion of his felicity, which used to gratify her so much.
The beginnings of love may be selfish, may be tyrannical, may require that vanity and thirst of power shall have due tribute paid them; but, when love is perfected, not only is vanity cast away, power and pride laid down, but self, that idol of the unoccupied heart, is forgotten, or valued only as contributing to the happiness of the being beloved! We speak, of course, of that early sunbeam of life’s morning, _First Love_: the description here given can never be applicable to the mixed nature of the later awakened sentiment, with its thousand necessary alloys: the selfishness called into play by self-defence, the doubts of the future, taught by experience of the past; with all the calculating insinuations of interest hinting the wisdom of training the heart’s tendrils to cling to convenience.
Let the plant be love, of course, says prudence; but why not place it in the comfortable south aspect of wealth and splendour?
… “Choicest flowers, of every hue, Spring forth where’er their fairy tread hath pass’d; And magic gardens bloom around regions Fitting for such loveliness! floating near Music’s sweetness vibrates, with hov’ring odour, Holding soft commune on the fields of air.”
In answer to all Fitz-Ullin’s arguments and entreaties for an early day, Julia pleaded a due respect to her grandmother’s feelings. In compliment to these it was decided that the wedding should not take place for three months. But months flew past with the velocity of days, all nature glowed with tints never seen before; every bird sang a sweeter song than formerly; particularly a thrush which had its nest in a Portugal laurel, just behind the shady seat to which the lovers strolled every evening. The very climate was improved: it was never either too hot or too cold, that is, in the opinion of Julia and Fitz-Ullin. The rest of the world, we believe, found the changes of weather much such as they generally are in this, by all but lovers, sadly abused climate of ours.
Previous to the expiration of the allotted three months, the Arandale family arrived at Lodore, together with the Marquis and Marchioness of H⸺, Lord and Lady Morven, shortly after, the Dowager Countess Fitz-Ullin, and lastly, Colonel Beaumont, now the accepted lover of Frances.
The weddings of both the sisters were solemnized on the same day by Mr. Jackson, in the same church in which he had baptized both, and pronounced over the then unknown Edmund, that memorable benediction, with which he bestowed on him the temporary appellation of Montgomery; a name under which, as Mr. Jackson this day observed, our hero afterwards reaped so many laurels, that to have laid it aside for any title but that of Fitz-Ullin, would have been rather a resignation of glory, than an acquisition of splendour.
Lord and Lady Fitz-Ullin set out immediately for the Craigs, whither they were followed shortly by a large party of their friends. Even Mrs. Montgomery, (who had resolved never again to leave Lodore House,) sustained by the renovating influence of happiness, performed the journey, and did not suffer from the exertion.
The Jews who had possession of the Oswald estates, were obliged to resign them on the production of the title-deeds. Now, therefore, that every one but Gotterimo himself had reaped the benefits of his honesty, it was high time to think of rewarding him. Mrs. Smyth, by the liberality of her mistress and the savings of her long servitude, was enabled to give Alice a few hundreds. Lady Fitz-Ullin added a few more for her jewel-box, not forgetting the parcel of old letters by which it was accompanied. Lord Fitz-Ullin gave a suitable acknowledgement for the title-deeds of his wife’s estate, the Craigs, not forgetting the long lost happiness found in the bottom of the same old chest. And Lady Oswald, most willingly, paid a handsome reward for the discovery of the title-deeds of her son’s estates. Thus portioned, Alice was bestowed on our worthy little friend, who carried her forthwith to London. We are happy to add, that, from the credit which his upright mode of dealing gained him, his establishment became, in the course of time, one of the greatest in that great city.
“Land of the harp! the soul of music dwells With thee! thine every word, thy wildest thought Is poetry; thy fields, thy groves, thy streams Are melody! Henceforward thou shalt bloom In the bright summer of prosperity. Thy sovereign shall behold thee face to face, The eloquence of truth on thy fair brow Beaming.—Oh, he never can forget its ray! On thy green shores, the heart’s own welcome dwells! There, an hundred thousand greetings wait him! There, an hundred thousand blessings greet him!”
After the visit we have already mentioned to the Craigs, a season in Town, and a quiet month or two at dear Lodore, Fitz-Ullin prevailed on Julia to accompany him to that gem of the ocean, the Emerald Isle, the land of his birth, for the purpose of visiting his extensive paternal estates in the beautiful county of ⸺.
Here, nature indeed had been bountiful; but her benign intentions had, hitherto, been defeated by an ill judged organization of the social system.
For six and twenty years, agents and middlemen had oppressed the hardy tenant of the soil; till, what had been courage, became fierceness; what had been humour, bitterness; and even native beauty of feature was veiled by the utterly hopeless expression, which hung on almost every countenance; while not the muscles of the face only, but the very limbs of naturally athletic men appeared relaxed. For the rewards of labour being insufficient to inspire industry, bodily fatigue was unsustained by mental energy, and the mere animal instinct of hunger remained the sole stimulus to exertion.
It had never entered the minds of this simple, almost wild people, to look to the government for justice or redress. The executive power, in all its branches, was, and long had been, concentrated and personified in their imaginations under the loathed figure of a hangman; and him whom they considered as their natural protector, their landlord, leader, and hereditary chief, was out of the reach of hearing their complaints. It is not surprising, therefore, that the arrival of the happy couple, surrounded by all the splendour to which their rank and fortune entitled them, lending a ready ear to every tale of woe, and with the hand of benevolence open for the relief of every want, was viewed by all as the rising of the morning of hope, on a land long desolated by a dreary succession of stormy nights that knew no day between.
Fitz-Ullin was so forcibly struck by the marks which all around him bore, of private duties sacrificed to public ones, during the long and brilliant life of the late Earl, that his reflections and resolutions on the subject very shortly became such as we may trace in a conversation which took place, a few evenings after his arrival at Ullin Castle. He was seated with his lovely Countess on the balcony of a high tower, from whence might be seen on every side, a large portion of the wide domains of his forefathers.
He had been indulging in the fond hope, justified by the then situation of Julia, that the future possessor of all he now beheld, would, ere long, enter life amid prospects delightful to the heart of a parent, and sheltered too, he trusted, under providence, from the rough blasts, which he had in infancy encountered; for Julia had promised him that she herself would nurture her own child, and never commit it to the hands of a stranger, to run the risk of enduring what its father had endured.
While these gentle thoughts dwelt in his mind, his eye accidentally rested on the smoke that stole from the lowly chimneys of some cottages, which, scattered at various intervals, lay concealed among the distant trees.
As busy fancy painted the rustic group around each fire-side, a something like self-reproach smote upon the heart of Fitz-Ullin.
“How often,” he exclaimed, giving audible utterance to his thoughts, “how often have I felt enthusiasm, amounting almost to a wild species of joy, when engaged in the work of war, and, of course, of destruction; and behold around me here, the labours of peace, the power of diffusing happiness to multitudes, lying neglected and forgotten.”
“Do not say the work of destruction!” interrupted Julia, eagerly: “it never was in your nature, Edmund, to take pleasure in destroying the very worst of enemies! Say rather the work, the glorious, the indispensable work of protection; for of what avail would it be to spread prosperity over the face of the land if we suffer the foe to come in and lay our labours waste?”
“True, Julia! most true!” replied Fitz-Ullin, delighted to have his favourite and habitual views of the subject thus revived. And as he spoke, he arose unconsciously, and, assuming a loftiness of carriage of which his figure was peculiarly susceptible, looked once more the hero—a character lately almost forgotten in that of the lover.
“Seen in this light,” he said, “our duty to our country is also one of the most sacred of those which we owe to our kindred and dependants, taken too on its greatest, its noblest scale! The reflections, however, which the scene before us has awakened, have had their use; they have reminded me that, in the pride of performing a selected task, gratifying to our ambition or our vanity, we must not neglect the manifold and unpretending duties which surround our homes. You will allow,” he added, changing his manner from the grave to the sportive, “heroine as you are, Julia, that in the intervals of peace, at least, we ought to thatch the peasant’s hut, and see that he has grain to sow his fields—aye,” he continued, his voice and manner again becoming serious, “and a cheerful countenance when he reaps them, emanating from the consciousness that a liberal portion of all which the labour of his hands has caused the ground to bring forth shall be his own and his children’s. Nor is this more than just: large estates were small, indeed, in value to their luxurious possessor, did not the sweat of the brow of his fellow-creature render them productive.”
The impressions received by the mind of Fitz-Ullin on this evening were never effaced. In the course of promotion he became, as his father had been, Admiral Lord Fitz-Ullin, and, under that title, continued to reap, when called upon by the emergencies of the state, laurels as distinguished as any gained by his great predecessor; but his people at home were never forgotten. His sons and his daughters were born amongst them, and all the many silent blessings which fall from the hand of the resident landlord introduced into their dwellings. While as much of a long, blissful, and prosperous life as he could spare from his more active duties to his country, and his closer ties to his immediate family and dependants was devoted to the noble task of pleading the cause of the oppressed of his native land in the great assembly of his peers.
_Gunnell and Shearman, 13, Salisbury Square._
Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation in the original document have been preserved. Volume II (PG e-text #56566) lists the errata for all three volumes; those corrections have been applied here.
There is no Chapter XXX: the chapter numbering goes straight from XXIX to XXXI.
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CONSTANTINOPLE IN 1828.
By CHARLES MAC FARLANE, Esq., With an Appendix, containing Remarks and Observations, to the Autumn of 1829.
“Of all the Tourists whom the late demand has tempted to the press, Mr. Mac Farlane will, beyond comparison, most reward the reader. The main purport of his book is specifically adapted to the very points on which the curiosity of the moment is most alive. For the condition of this part of the Eastern world, of its politics, temper, and prominent interests, just at present, an authority so recent and so satisfactory as Mr. Mac Farlane, is a greater piece of good fortune than it would have been reasonable to expect.”—_Edinburgh Review._
SUSPIRIUM SANCTORUM; or HOLY BREATHINGS. A Series of Morning and Evening Prayers. BY A LADY. A new and greatly enlarged Edition.
“The spirit which pervades these solemn addresses to the Almighty bespeaks such a sense and feeling of the blessed hopes and prospects of pure Christianity, as do great credit to the heart and understanding of the noble Author.”—_Quarterly Theological Review._
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THE ANNUAL PEERAGE AND BARONETAGE, FOR 1830.
Printed under the sanction and from the communications of the nobility; with new Plates of the Arms, those of the Peers of England revised and corrected. BY EDMUND LODGE, Esq., Norroy King of Arms, &c.
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FLORAL EMBLEMS. By HENRY PHILLIPS, F.L. and F.H.S. Author of “Pomarium Britannicum.”
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The Rise, Progress, and Present State of Public OPINION in Great Britain and other parts of the World. By WILLIAM ALEXANDER MACKINNON, Esq. F.R.S.
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HUNGARIAN TALES, written during a Residence in that country. By the Author of “the Lettre de Cachet.”
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In 1 vol. 8vo. with full length Portrait, from a Drawing by Lady Lucy Clive, price 12_s._
THE LIFE OF EDWARD LORD HERBERT, of CHERBURY. Written by himself. Fourth Edition, continued till his Death. With LETTERS, written during his Residence at the French Court: now first published from the Originals.
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PRIVATE MEMOIRS OF SIR KENELM DIGBY, Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King Charles the First; written by himself, and including an account of his romantic Attachment to the beautiful but unfortunate Lady Venetia Stanley. Now first published from the original Manuscript, with an Introductory Memoir.