THE baronet would, at length, have enjoyed perfect contentment, had he not been molested by the teasing spirit of Miss Margland, now daily at work in proposing a journey to London, and in representing as an indispensable duty, that the young ladies should see and be seen, in a manner suitable to their situation in life.
Miss Margland, equally void either of taste or of resources for the country, had languished and fretted away twelve years in its bosom, with no other opening to any satisfaction beyond a maintenance, except what she secretly nourished in her hopes, that, when her beautiful pupil was grown up, she should accompany her to the metropolis. Her former connections and acquaintance in high life still continued to be the stationary pride of her heart, the constant theme of her discourse, and the perpetual allusion of some lamentation and regret. This excursion, therefore, in prospect, had been her sole support during her retirement; nor had she failed to instruct her fair disciple to aid her scheme, though she had kept from her its private motive.
Most successfully, indeed, had she instilled into the youthful breast of Indiana, a wondering curiosity to see the place which she described as the sole residence of elegance and fashion, and an eager impatience to exhibit there a person which she was assured would meet with universal homage.
But neither the exhortations of the governess, nor the wishes of her pupil, could in this point move Sir Hugh. He had a fixt aversion to London, and to all public places, and had constantly some disaster to relate of every visit he had accidentally made to them. The amusements which had decided his partiality for the country were now, indeed, no longer within his reach; but his sanguine temper, which occasionally entertained him with hopes of a recovery, determined him always to keep upon the right spot, he said, for sport, in the case of any sudden and favourable change in his health.
Upon the visit of Camilla, Miss Margland grew yet more urgent, expecting through her powerful influence to gain her point. She strove, therefore, to engage her intercession, but Camilla, careless, easy, and gay, had no wish about the matter, and could not be brought into the cabal.
This disappointment so much soured and provoked Miss Margland, that she lost the usual discretion she had hitherto practised, of confining her remonstrances to those times when she saw Sir Hugh alone. Such opportunities, indeed, weary of the use she made of them, the baronet contrived daily to lessen; but every meeting now, whether public or private, was seized alike for the same purpose, and the necessity of bringing the young ladies out, and the duty of thinking of their establishment, were the sentences with which he was so regularly assailed, that the moment he saw her he prepared to hear them, and commonly with a heavy sigh anticipated their fatigue to his spirits.
No arguments, however, relative to disposing of the young ladies, had any weight with him; he had long planned to give Eugenia to Clermont Lynmere, and he depended upon Edgar Mandlebert for Indiana, while with regard to Camilla, to keep her unmarried, that he might detain her under his own roof, was the favourite wish of his heart. Nevertheless, this perpetual persecution became by degrees insupportable, and, unused to be deaf to any claimant, he was upon the point of constrained compliance, when his passion for forming schemes came again to his aid, upon hearing that Edgar Mandlebert, after a twelvemonth’s absence, was just returned to Etherington.
This youth had been making the tour of England, Wales, and Scotland, with Dr. Marchmont, who had been induced by Mr. Tyrold to relinquish all other avocations, and devote to him his whole time.
Sir Hugh hastening, upon this news, to the parsonage-house, said: ‘Don’t imagine, brother, I am going to make any complaint against Mrs. Margland, for she is an excellent governess, and I have no fault to find with her, except her making too many objections, which I take to be her worst part; but as every body has something, it would be very unfair to quarrel with her for such a mere nothing, especially as she can’t help it, after so many years going on the same way, without coming to a stop; but the thing I have thought of now may set it all to rights, which I hope you’ll approve, and especially my sister.’
He then explained, that as he had fixt upon marrying Eugenia to Clermont Lynmere, she was put so completely under the care of Dr. Orkborne, in order to make her fit for the young scholar, that Miss Margland was of little or no use to her. He meant, therefore, to bring forward immediately the marriage of Indiana with young Mandlebert, and then to ask Miss Margland to go and live with them entirely, as he could very well spare her: ‘This,’ he continued, ‘Indiana can’t object to, from the point of having had her so long; and young Mr. Edgar’s remarkably complaisant, for such a young youth, which I saw a great while ago. By this means, Mrs. Margland will get her main end of going to London, which she may show off to the young bride, without my budging from home, Lord help me! being a thing I don’t much like, to be taken about to dances and shews, now that I am not a boy; so then Camilla will be left to stay with me, for my own companion, which I assure you I desire no better, though she knows no more, as the Doctor tells me, of the classics, than my old spaniel; which, to give every one his due, is much the same with myself.’
Mr. Tyrold, with a very unpleasant astonishment, enquired further into his meaning concerning Mandlebert; but his surprise ended in a smile, when he heard the juvenile circumstances upon which alone Sir Hugh built his expectations. To argue with him, however, was always fruitless; he had found out, he said, the intentions of Edgar from the first, and he came now to invite him to pass a month at Cleves, for the sake of cutting the courtship short, by letting him see Indiana every day, so that no time might be lost in coming to the conclusion.
The first wish of the secret heart of Mr. Tyrold was, that one of his own daughters should be the choice of his ward; he did not, therefore, totally unmoved, hear this project for Indiana, though its basis was so little alarming.
Edgar, who was now just of age, was receiving the last cares of his guardian, and taking into his own hands his fortune and affairs. He was at Etherington, at present, only for that purpose, Beech Park being already fitted up for his residence.
Sir Hugh, desiring to speak with him, most cordially made his invitation: ‘Besides myself,’ he cried, ‘whom I only mention first, as being master of the house, which I hope is my excuse for it, you will meet three very good young girls, not to mention Dr. Orkborne and Miss Margland, who are rather not of the youngest at present, whatever they may have been in former times; and they will all, myself included, make you as welcome as themselves.’
Edgar accepted the proposal with pleasure, and agreed to wait upon him the next day, Mr. Tyrold consenting that they should transact their mutual business at Etherington, by morning rides.
At dinner Sir Hugh told the family at Cleves the new guest they were so soon to expect, assuring them he was become a very fine young gentleman, and bidding Indiana, with a significant nod, hold up her head. Indiana wanted no charge upon this subject; she fully understood the views of her uncle, and it was now some years since she had heard the name of Beech Park without a smile or a blush.
Upon the arrival of the young man, Sir Hugh summoned his household to meet him in the hall, where he received him with an hearty welcome, and, in the flutter of his spirits, introduced him to them all, as if this had been his first appearance in the family; remarking, that a full week of shyness might be saved, by making acquaintance with the whole set in a clump.
From eagerness irrepressible, he began with Indiana, apologising when he had done, by saying it was only because she was oldest, having the advantage of three weeks over Camilla: ‘For which, however,’ he added, ‘I must beg pardon of Mrs. Margland and Dr. Orkborne, who, to be sure, must be pretty much older.’
He next presented him to Camilla; and then, taking him apart, begged, in a whisper, that he would not seem to notice the ugliness of Eugenia, which, he said, was never mentioned in her hearing, by his particular order; ‘though, to be sure,’ he added, ‘since that small-pox, she’s grown plain enough, in point of beauty, considering how pretty she was before. However, she’s a remarkable good girl, and with regard to Virgil and those others will pose you in a second, for aught I know to the contrary, being but an indifferent judge in things of that sort, from leaving off my own studies rather short, on account of the gout; besides some other reasons.’
Edgar assured him these introductions were by no means necessary, a single twelvemonth’s absence being very insufficient to obliterate from his memory his best and earliest friends.
Edgar Mandlebert was a young man who, if possessed neither of fortune nor its expectations, must from his person and his manners have been as attractive to the young, as from his morals and his conduct to those of riper years. His disposition was serious and meditative; but liberal, open, and candid. He was observant of the errors of others, and watched till he nearly eradicated his own. But though with difficulty he bestowed admiration, he diffused, both in words and deeds, such general amity and good will, that if the strictness of his character inspired general respect, its virtues could no less fail engaging the kinder mede of affection. When to merit of a species so rare were added a fine estate and a large independent fortune, it is not easy to decide whether in prosperity or desert he was most distinguished.
The first week which he spent at Cleves, was passed with a gaiety as unremitting as it was innocent. All parties felt his arrival as an acquisition: Indiana thought the hour of public exhibition, long promised by Miss Margland, at length fast approaching; Camilla, who escaped all expectation for herself, from being informed of what was entertained by her cousin, enjoyed the tranquil pleasure of undesigning friendship, unchequered either by hope or fear; Eugenia met with a respect for her acquirements that redoubled her ambition to increase them; Sir Hugh looked forward with joy to the happy disposal of Indiana, and a blameless riddance of Miss Margland; who, on her part, with an almost boundless satisfaction, saw her near return to a town life, from the high favour in which she stood with the supposed bride elect; even Dr. Orkborne, though he disdained with so young a scholar to enter into much philological disquisition, was gratified by a presence which afforded a little relief to the stores of his burdened memory, from authorizing some occasional utterance of the learned recollections, which for many years had encumbered it without vent. Edgar, meanwhile, obliging and obliged, received pleasure from them all; for though not blind to any of their imperfections, they had not a merit which he failed to discern.
The second week opened with a plan which promised a scene more lively, though it broke into the calm retirement of this peaceful party. Lionel, who was now at Etherington, to spend his university vacation, rode over to Cleves, to inform Edgar, that there would be a ball the next evening at Northwick, at which the officers of the * * * regiment, which was quartered in the neighbourhood, and all the beaux and belles of the county, were expected to assemble.
Miss Margland, who was present, struck with a desire that Indiana might make her first public appearance in the county, at a ball where Edgar might be her partner, went instantly to Sir Hugh to impart the idea. Sir Hugh, though averse to all public places, consented to the plan, from the hope of accelerating the affair; but declared, that if there was any amusement, his little Camilla should not be left out. Eugenia, won by the novelty of a first expedition of this sort, made her own request to be included; Lionel undertook to procure tickets, and Miss Margland had the welcome labour of arranging their dress, for which Sir Hugh, to atone for the shortness of the time, gave her powers unlimited.
Indiana was almost distracted with joy at this event. Miss Margland assured her, that now was the moment for fixing her conquest of Mandlebert, by adroitly displaying to him the admiration she could not but excite, in the numerous strangers before whom she would appear; she gave her various instructions how to set off her person to most advantage, and she delighted Sir Hugh with assurances of what this evening would effect: ‘There is nothing, Sir,’ said she, ‘so conducive towards a right understanding between persons of fashion, as a ball. A gentleman may spend months and months in this drowsy way in the country, and always think one day will do as well as another for his declaration; but when he sees a young lady admired and noticed by others, he falls naturally into making her the same compliments, and the affair goes into a regular train, without his almost thinking of it.’
Sir Hugh listened to this doctrine with every desire to give it credit; and though the occupations of the toilette left him alone the whole of the assembly day, he was as happy in the prospect of their diversion, as they were themselves in its preparation.
When the young ladies were ready, they repaired to the apartment of the baronet, to shew themselves, and to take leave. Edgar and Lionel were waiting to meet them upon the stairs. Indiana had never yet looked so lovely; Camilla, with all her attractions, was eclipsed; and Eugenia could only have served as a foil, even to those who had no pretensions to beauty.
Edgar, nevertheless, asked Camilla to dance with him; she willingly, though not without wonder, consented. Lionel desired the hand of his fair cousin; but Indiana, self-destined to Edgar, whose address to Camilla, she had not heard, made him no answer, and ran on to present herself to her uncle; who, struck with admiration as he beheld her, cried, ‘Indiana, my dear, you really look prettier than I could even have guessed; and yet I always knew there was no fault to be found with the outside; nor indeed with the inside neither, Mr. Mandlebert, so I don’t mean anything by that; only, by use, one is apt to put the outside first.’
Lionel was how hurrying them away, when Sir Hugh calling to Edgar, said: ‘Pray, young Mr. Mandlebert, take as much care of her as possible; which I am sure you will do of your own accord.’
Edgar, with some surprise, answered, he should be happy to take whatever care was in his power of all the ladies; ‘but,’ added he, ‘for my own particular charge to-night, I have engaged Miss Camilla.’
‘And how came you to do that? Don’t you know I let them all go on purpose for the sake of your dancing with Indiana, which I mean as a particular favour?’
‘Sir,’ replied Edgar, a little embarrassed, ‘you are very good; but as Lionel cannot dance with his sisters, he has engaged Miss Lynmere himself.’
‘Pho, pho, what do you mind Lionel for? not but what he’s a very good lad; only I had rather have you and Indiana dance together, which I dare say so had she.’
Edgar, somewhat distressed, looked at Camilla: ‘O, as to me,’ cried she, gaily, ‘pray let me take my chance; if I should not dance at all, the whole will be so new to me, that I am sure of entertainment.’
‘You are the best good girl, without the smallest exception,’ said Sir Hugh, ‘that ever I have known in the world; and so here’s her hand, young Mr. Mandlebert, and if you think you shall meet a prettier partner at the ball, I beg when you get her there, you will tell her so fairly, and give her up.’
Edgar, who had hardly yet looked at her, was now himself struck with the unusual resplendence of her beauty, and telling Camilla he saw she was glad to be at liberty, protested he could not but rejoice to be spared a decision for himself, where the choice would have been so difficult.
‘Well then, now go,’ cried the delighted baronet; ‘Lionel will find himself a partner, I have no doubt, because he is nothing particular in point of shyness; and as to Camilla, she’ll want nothing but to hear the fiddlers to be as merry as a grig, which what it is I never knew: so I have no concern,’ added he, in a low voice, to Edgar, ‘except for little Eugenia, and poor Mrs. Margland; for Eugenia being so plain, which is no fault of her’s, on account of the small-pox, many a person may overlook her from that objection; and as to Mrs. Margland, being with all these young chickens, I am afraid people will think her rather one of the oldest for a dancing match; which I say in no disrespect, for oldness gives one no choice.’
THE dancing was not yet begun, but the company was met, and the sprightly violins were employed to quicken their motions, when the Cleves party entered the ball room. They were distinguished immediately by a large party of officers, who assured Lionel, with whom they were acquainted, that they had impatiently been expected.
‘I shall recompense you for waiting,’ answered he, in a whisper, ‘by introducing you to the rich heiress of Cleves, who now makes her first appearance from the nursery; though no! upon farther thoughts, I will only tell you she is one of our set, and leave it to your own ingenuity to find her out.’
While this was passing, Indiana, fluttering with all the secret triumph of conscious beauty, attended by Edgar, and guarded by Miss Margland, walked up the room, through a crowd of admiring spectators; in whom a new figure, without half her loveliness, would have excited the same curiosity, that her extreme inexperience attributed solely to her peculiar charms. Camilla and Eugenia followed rather as if in her train, than of her party; but Lionel kept entirely with the officers, insisting upon their guessing which was the heiress; to whom, while he purposely misled their conjectures, he urged them to make their court, by enumerating the present possessions of Sir Hugh, and her future expectations.
Camilla, however, passed not long unnoticed, though the splendor of Indiana’s appearance cast her at first on the back ground; a circumstance which, by impressing her with a sensation of inferiority, divested her mind of all personal considerations, and gave to her air and countenance a graceful simplicity, a disengaged openness, and a guileless freedom from affectation, that rendered her, to the observant eye, as captivating upon examination, as Indiana, from the first glance, was brilliant and alluring. And thus, as they patrolled the room, Indiana excited an unmixt admiration, Camilla awakened an endless variety of remark; while each being seen for the first time, and every one else of the company for at least the second, all attention was their own, whether for criticism or for praise. To Indiana this answered, in fulfilling her expectations; by Camilla, it was unheeded, for, not awaiting, she did not perceive it; yet both felt equal satisfaction. The eyes of Camilla sparkled with delight as she surveyed all around her the gay novelty of the scene; the heart of Indiana beat with a pleasure wholly new, as she discovered that all surrounding her regarded her as the principal object.
Eugenia, meanwhile, had not even the negative felicity to pass unobserved; impertinent witticisms upon her face, person, and walk, though not uttered so audibly as to be distinctly heard, ran round the room in a confused murmur, and produced a disposition for sneering in the satirical, and for tittering in the giddy, that made her as valuable an acquisition to the company at large, who collect for any amusement, indifferent to its nature, as her fair cousin proved to the admirers of beauty, and her sister to the developers of expression. She was shielded, however, herself, from all undeserved mortifications, by not suspecting any were meant for her, and by a mind delightedly pre-occupied with that sudden expansion of ideas, with which new scenery and new objects charm a youthful imagination.
When they had taken two or three turns up and down the room, the saunterers were called upon to give place to the dancers. Edgar then led out Indiana, and the master of the ceremonies brought Major Cerwood to Camilla.
Eugenia, wholly left out, became the exclusive charge of Miss Margland; she felt no resentment of neglect, for she had formed no species of expectation. She looked on with perfect contentment, and the motley and quick changing group afforded her ample entertainment.
Miss Margland was not so passive; she seized the opportunity of inveighing very angrily against the mismanagement of Sir Hugh: ‘If you had all,’ she cried, ‘been taken to town, and properly brought out, according to my advice, such a disgrace as this could never have happened; everybody would have known who you were, and then, there is no doubt, you might have had partners enough; however, I heartily hope you won’t be asked to dance all the evening, that he may be convinced who was in the right; besides, the more you are tired, the more you may see, against another time, Miss Eugenia, that it is better to listen a little to people’s opinions, when they speak only for your own advantage, than to go on with just the same indifference, as if you had no proper person to consult with.’
Eugenia was too well amused to heed this remonstrance; and long accustomed to hear the voice of Miss Margland without profit or pleasure, her ear received its sound, but her attention included not its purpose.
Indiana and Camilla, in this public essay, acquitted themselves with all the merits, and all the faults common to a first exhibition. The spectators upon such occasions, though never equally observant, are never afterwards so lenient. Whatever fails is attributed to modesty, more winning than the utmost success of excellence. Timidity solicits that mercy which pride is most gratified to grant; the blushes of juvenile shame atone for the deficiencies which cause them; and aukwardness itself, in the unfounded terrors of youth, is perhaps more interesting than grace.
Indiana could with difficulty keep to the figure of the dance, from the exulting, yet unpractised certainty of attracting all eyes; and Camilla perpetually turned wrong, from the mere flutter of fear, which made her expect she should never turn right. Major Cerwood, her partner, with a view to encourage her, was profuse in his compliments; but, as new to what she heard as what she performed, she was only the more confused by the double claim to her attention.
Edgar, meanwhile, was most assiduous to aid his fair partner. Miss Margland, though scarcely even superficial in general knowledge, was conversant in the practical detail of the hackneyed mode of forming matrimonial engagements; she judged, therefore, rightly, that her pupil would be seen to most advantage, in the distinction of that adulation by which new beholders would stamp new value on her charms. From the time of his first boyish gallantry, on the ill-fated birth-day of Camilla, Indiana had never so much struck young Mandlebert, as while he attended her up the assembly-room. Miss Margland observed this with triumph, and prophesied the speediest conclusion to her long and weary sojourn at Cleves, in the much wished-for journey to London, with a bride ready made, and an establishment ready formed.
When the two first dances were over, the gentlemen were desired to change partners. Major Cerwood asked the hand of Indiana, and Edgar repaired to Camilla: ‘Do you bear malice?’ he cried, with a smile, ‘or may I now make the claim that Sir Hugh relinquished for me?’
‘O yes,’ answered she, with alacrity, when informed of the plan of change; ‘and I wish there was any body else, that would dance with me afterwards, instead of that Major.’
‘I dare believe,’ said he, laughing ‘there are many bodies else, who would oblige you, if your declaration were heard. But what has the Major done to you? Has he admired you without knowing how to keep his own counsel?’
‘No, no; only he has treated me like a country simpleton, and made me as many fine speeches, as if he had been talking to Indiana.’
‘You think, then, Indiana would have swallowed flattery with less difficulty?’
‘No, indeed! but I think the same things said to her would no longer have been so extravagant.’
Edgar, to whom the sun-beams of the mind gave a glow which not all the sparkling rays of the brightest eyes could emit, respected her modesty too highly to combat it, and, dropping the subject, enquired what was become of Eugenia.
‘O poor Eugenia!’ cried she, ‘I see nothing of her, and I am very much afraid she has had no better partner all this time than Miss Margland.’
Edgar, turning round, presently discerned her; she was still looking on, with an air of the most perfect composure, examining the various parties, totally without suspicion of the examination she was herself sustaining; while Miss Margland was vainly pouring in her ears observations, or exhortations, evidently of a complaining nature.
‘There is something truly respectable,’ said Edgar, ‘in the innate philosophy with which she bears such neglect.’
‘Yet I wish it were put less to the proof;’ said Camilla. ‘I would give the world somebody would take her out!’
‘You don’t think she would dance?’
‘O yes she would! her lameness is no impediment; for she never thinks of it. We all learnt together at Cleves. Dancing gives her a little more exertion, and therefore a little more fatigue than other people, but that is all.’
‘After these two dances then–’
‘Will you be her partner?’ interrupted Camilla, ‘O go to her at once! immediately! and you will give me twenty times more pleasure than I can have in dancing myself.’
She then flew to a form, and eagerly seated herself where she perceived the first vacancy, to stop any debate, and enforce his consent.
The dance, which had been delayed by a dispute about the tune, was now beginning. Edgar, looking after her with affected reproach, but real admiration, asked the hand of Eugenia; who gave it with readiness and pleasure; for, though contented as a spectatress, she experienced an agreeable surprise in becoming a party engaged.
Camilla, happy in her own good humour, now looked at her neighbours; one of which was an elderly lady, who, wholly employed in examining and admiring the performance of her own daughters, saw nothing else in the room. The other was a gentleman, much distinguished by his figure and appearance, and dressed so completely in the extreme of fashion, as more than to border upon foppery. The ease and negligence of his air denoted a self-settled superiority to all about him; yet, from time to time, there was an archness in the glance of his eye, that promised, under a deep and wilful veil of conceit and affectation, a secret disposition to deride the very follies he was practising. He was now lounging against the wainscoat; with one hand on his side, and the other upon his eye-lids, occupying the space, without using the seat, to the left of Camilla.
Miss Margland, perceiving what she regarded as a fair vacancy, made up to the spot, and saying, ‘Sir, by your leave,’ was preparing to take possession of the place, when the gentleman, as if without seeing her, dropt suddenly into it himself, and, pouring a profusion of eau suave upon his handkerchief, exclaimed: ‘What a vastly bad room this is for dancing!’
Camilla, concluding herself addressed, turned round to him; but, seeing he was sniffing up the eau suave, without looking at her, imagined he meant to speak to Miss Margland.
Miss Margland was of the same opinion, and, with some pique at his seizing thus her intended seat, rather sharply answered: ‘Yes, sir, and it’s a vast bad room for not dancing; for if every body would dance that ought, there would be accommodation sufficient for other people.’
‘Incomparably well observed!’ cried he, collecting some bonbons from a bonboniere, and swallowing one after another with great rapidity: ‘But won’t you sit down? You must be enormously tired. Let me supplicate you to sit down.’
Miss Margland, supposing he meant to make amends for his inattention, by delivering up the place, civilly thanked him, and said she should not be sorry, for she had stood a good while.
‘Have you, indeed?’ cried he, sprinkling some jessamine drops upon his hands; ‘how horribly abominable? Why don’t some of those Mercuries, those Ganymedes, those waiters, I believe you call them, get you a chair?’
Miss Margland, excessively affronted, turned her back to him; and Camilla made an offer of her own seat; but, as she had been dancing, and would probably dance again, Miss Margland would not let her rise.
‘Shall I call to one of those Barbarians, those Goths, those Vandals?’ cried the same gentleman, who now was spirting lavender water all about him, with grimaces that proclaimed forcibly his opinion of the want of perfume in the room: ‘Do pray let me harangue them a little for you upon their inordinate want of sensibility.’
Miss Margland deigned not any answer; but of that he took no notice, and presently called out, though without raising his voice, ‘Here, Mr. Waiter! Purveyor, Surveyor, or whatsoever other title ”please thine ear,” art thou deaf? why dost not bring this lady a chair? Those people are most amazing hard of hearing! Shall I call again? Waiter, I say!’ still speaking rather lower than louder; ‘Don’t I stun you by this shocking vociferation?’
‘Sir, you’re vastly-obliging!’ cried Miss Margland, unable longer to hold silence, yet with a look and manner that would much better have accorded with vastly–impertinent.
She then pursued a waiter herself, and procured a chair.
Casting his eyes next upon Camilla, he examined her with much attention. Abashed, she turned away her head; but not choosing to lose his object, he called it back again, by saying, ‘How is Sir Hugh?’
A good deal surprised, she exclaimed, ‘Do you know my uncle, sir?’
‘Not in the least, ma’am,’ he coolly answered.
Camilla, much wondering, was then forced into conversation with Miss Margland: but, without paying any regard to her surprise, he presently said, ‘It’s most extremely worth your while to take a glance at that inimitably good figure. Is it not exquisite? Can you suppose any thing beyond it?’
Camilla, looking at the person to whom he pointed, and who was sufficiently ludicrous, from an air of vulgar solemnity, and a dress stiffly new, though completely old-fashioned, felt disposed to join in his laugh, had she not been disconcerted by the mingled liberty and oddity of his attack.
‘Sir,’ said Miss Margland, winking at her to be silent, though eager to answer in her stead, ‘the mixt company one always meets at these public balls, makes them very unfit for ladies of fashion, for there’s no knowing who one may either dance with or speak to.’
‘Vastly true, ma’am,’ cried he superciliously dropping his eyes, not to look at her.
Miss Margland, perceiving this, bridled resentfully, and again talked on with Camilla; till another exclamation interrupted them. ‘O pray,’ cried he, ‘I do entreat you look at that group! Is it not past compare? If ever you held a pencil in your life, I beg and beseech you to take a memorandum of that tall may-pole. Have you ever seen any thing so excessively delectable?’
Camilla could not forbear smiling; but Miss Margland, taking all reply upon herself, said: ‘Caricatures, sir, are by no means pleasing for young ladies to be taking, at their first coming out: one does not know who may be next, if once they get into that habit.’
‘Immeasurably well spoken, ma’am,’ returned he; and, rising with a look of disgust, he sauntered to another part of the room.
Miss Margland, extremely provoked, said she was sure he was some Irish fortune-hunter, dressed out in all he was worth; and charged Camilla to take no manner of notice of him.
When the two second dances were over, Edgar, conducting Eugenia to Miss Margland, said to Camilla: ‘Now, at least, if there is not a spell against it, will you dance with me?’
‘And if there is one, too,’ cried she, gaily; ‘for I am perfectly disposed to help breaking it.’
She rose, and they were again going to take their places, when Miss Margland, reproachfully calling after Edgar, demanded what he had done with Miss Lynmere?
At the same moment, led by Major Cerwood, who was paying her in full all the arrears of that gallantry Miss Margland had taught her to regret hitherto missing, Indiana joined them; the Major, in making his bow, lamenting the rules of the assembly, that compelled him to relinquish her hand.
‘Mr. Mandlebert,’ said Miss Margland, ‘you see Miss Lynmere is again disengaged.’
‘Yes, ma’am,’ answered Edgar, drawing Camilla away; ‘and every gentleman in the room will be happy to see it too.’
‘Stop, Miss Camilla!’ cried Miss Margland; ‘I thought, Mr. Mandlebert, Sir Hugh had put Miss Lynmere under your protection?’
‘O it does not signify!’ said Indiana, colouring high with a new raised sense of importance; ‘I don’t at all doubt but one or other of the officers will take care of me.’
Edgar, though somewhat disconcerted, would still have proceeded; but Camilla, alarmed by the frowns of Miss Margland, begged him to lead out her cousin, and, promising to be in readiness for the next two dances, glided back to her seat. He upbraided her in vain; Miss Margland looked pleased, and Indiana was so much piqued, that he found it necessary to direct all his attention to appeasing her, as he led her to join the dance.
A gentleman now, eminently distinguished by personal beauty, approached the ladies that remained, and, in the most respectful manner, began conversing with Miss Margland; who received his attentions so gratefully, that, when he told her he only waited to see the master of the ceremonies at leisure, in order to have the honour of begging the hand of one of her young ladies, his civilities so conquered all her pride of etiquette, that she assured him there was no sort of occasion for such a formality, with a person of his appearance and manners; and was bidding Camilla rise, who was innocently preparing to obey, when, to the surprise of them all, he addressed himself to Eugenia.
‘There!’ cried Miss Margland, exultingly, when they were gone; ‘that gentleman is completely a gentleman. I saw it from the beginning. How different to that impertinent fop that spoke to us just now! He has the politeness to take out Miss Eugenia, because he sees plainly nobody else will think of it, except just Mr. Mandlebert, or some such old acquaintance.’
Major Cerwood was now advancing towards Camilla, with that species of smiling and bowing manner, which is the usual precursor of an invitation to a fair partner; when the gentleman whom Miss Margland had just called an impertinent fop, with a sudden swing, not to be eluded, cast himself between the Major and Camilla, as if he had not observed his approach; and spoke to her in a voice so low, that, though she concluded he asked her to dance, she could not distinctly hear a word he said.
A good deal confused, she looked at him for an explanation; while the Major, from her air of attention, supposing himself too late, retreated.
Her new beau then, carelessly seating himself by her side, indolently said: ‘What a heat! I have not the most distant idea how you can bear it!’
Camilla found it impossible to keep her countenance at such a result of a whisper, though she complied with the injunctions of Miss Margland, in avoiding mutual discourse with a stranger of so showy an appearance.
‘Yet they are dancing on,’ he continued, ‘just as if the Greenland snows were inviting their exercise! I should really like to find out what those people are made of. Can you possibly imagine their composition?’
Heedless of receiving no answer, he soon after added: ‘I am vastly glad you don’t like dancing.’
‘Me?’ cried Camilla, surprised out of her caution.
‘Yes; you hold it in antipathy, don’t you?’
‘No, indeed! far from it.’
‘Don’t you really?’ cried he, starting back; ‘that’s amazingly extraordinary! surprising in the extreme! Will you have the goodness to tell me what you like in it?’
‘Sir,’ interfered Miss Margland, ‘there’s nothing but what’s very natural in a young lady’s taking pleasure in an elegant accomplishment; provided she is secure from any improper partner, or company.’
‘Irrefragably just, ma’am!’ answered he; affecting to take a pinch of snuff, and turning his head another way.
Here Lionel, hastily running up to Camilla, whispered, ‘I have made a fine confusion among the red-coats about the heiress of Cleves! I have put them all upon different scents.’
He was then going back, when a faint laugh from the neighbour of Camilla detained him; ‘Look, I adjure you,’ cried he, addressing her, ‘if there’s not that delightful creature again, with his bran-new clothes? and they sit upon him so tight, he can’t turn round his vastly droll figure, except like a puppet with one jerk for the whole body. He is really an immense treat: I should like of all things in nature, to know who he can be.’
A waiter then passing with a glass of water for a lady, he stopt him in his way, exclaiming: ‘Pray, my extremely good friend, can you tell me who that agreeable person is, that stands there, with the air of a poker?’
‘Yes, sir,’ answered the man; ‘I know him very well. His name is Dubster. He’s quite a gentleman to my knowledge, and has very good fortunes.’
‘Camilla,’ cried Lionel, ‘will you have him for a partner?’ And, immediately hastening up to him, he said two or three words in a low voice, and skipped back to the dance.
Mr. Dubster then walked up to her, and, with an air conspicuously aukward, solemnly said, ‘So you want to dance, ma’am?’
Convinced he had been sent to her by Lionel, but by no means chusing to display herself with a figure distinguished only as a mark for ridicule; she looked down to conceal her ever-ready smiles, and said she had been dancing some time.
‘But if you like to dance again, ma’am,’ said he, ‘I am very ready to oblige you.’
She now saw that this offer had been requested as a favour; and, while half provoked, half diverted, grew embarrassed how to get rid of him, without involving a necessity to refuse afterwards Edgar, and every other; for Miss Margland had informed her of the general rules upon these occasions. She looked, therefore, at that lady for counsel; while her neighbour, sticking his hands in his sides, surveyed him from head to foot, with an expression of such undisguised amusement, that Mr. Dubster, who could not help observing it, cast towards him, from time to time, a look of the most angry surprise.
Miss Margland approving, as well understanding the appeal, now authoritatively interfered, saying: ‘Sir, I suppose you know the etiquette in public places?’
‘The what, ma’am?’ cried he, staring.
‘You know, I suppose, sir, that no young lady of any consideration dances with a gentleman that is a stranger to her, without he’s brought to her by the master of the ceremonies?’
‘O as to that, ma’am, I have no objection. I’ll go see for him, if you’ve a mind. It makes no difference to me.’
And away he went.
‘So you really intend dancing with him?’ cried Camilla’s neighbour. “Twill be a vastly good sight. I have not the most remote conception how he will bear the pulling and jostling about. Bend he cannot; but I am immensely afraid he will break. I would give fifty guineas for his portrait. He is indubitably put together without joints.’
Mr. Dubster now returned, and, with a look of some disturbance, said to Miss Margland: ‘Ma’am, I don’t know which is the master of the ceremonies. I can’t find him out; for I don’t know as ever I see him.’
‘O pray,’ cried Camilla eagerly, ‘do not take the trouble of looking for him; ’twill answer no purpose.’
‘Why I think so too, ma’am,’ said he, misunderstanding her; ‘for as I don’t know the gentleman myself, he could go no great way towards making us better acquainted with one another: so we may just as well take our skip at once.’
Camilla now looked extremely foolish; and Miss Margland was again preparing an obstacle, when Mr. Dubster started one himself. ‘The worst is,’ cried he, ‘I have lost one of my gloves, and I am sure I had two when I came. I suppose I may have dropt it in the other room. If you shan’t mind it, I’ll dance without it; for I don’t mind those things myself of a straw.’
‘O! sir,’ cried Miss Margland, ‘that’s such a thing as never was heard of. I can’t possibly consent to let Miss Camilla dance in such a manner as that.’
‘Why then, if you like it better, ma’am, I’ll go back and look for it.’
Again Camilla would have declined giving him any trouble; but he seemed persuaded it was only from shyness, and would not listen. ‘Though the worst is,’ he said, ‘you’re losing so much time. However, I’ll give a good hunt; unless, indeed, that gentleman, who is doing nothing himself, except looking on at us all, would be kind enough to lend me his.’
‘I rather fancy, sir,’ cried the gentleman, immediately recovering from a laughing fit, and surveying the requester with supercilious contempt; ‘I rather suspect they would not perfectly fit you.’
‘Why then,’ cried he, ‘I think I’ll go and ask Tom Hicks to tend me a pair; for it’s a pity to let the young lady lose her dance for such a small trifle as that.’
Camilla began remonstrating; but he tranquilly walked away.
‘You are superlatively in the good graces of fortune to-night,’ cried her new friend, ‘superlatively to a degree, you may not meet with such an invaluably uncommon object in twenty lustres.’
‘Certainly,’ said Miss Margland, ‘there’s a great want of regulation at balls, to prevent low people from asking who they will to dance with them. It’s bad enough one can’t keep people one knows nothing of from speaking to one.’
‘Admirably hit off! admirable in the extreme!’ he answered; suddenly twisting himself round, and beginning a whispering conversation with a gentleman on his other side.
Mr. Dubster soon came again, saying, somewhat dolorously, ‘I have looked high and low for my glove, but I am no nearer. I dare say somebody has picked it up, out of a joke, and put it in their pocket. And as to Tom Hicks, where he can be hid, I can’t tell, unless he has hanged himself; for I can’t find him no more than my glove. However, I’ve got a boy to go and get me a pair; if all the shops a’n’t shut up.’
Camilla, fearing to be involved in a necessity of dancing with him, expressed herself very sorry for this step; but, again misconceiving her motive, he begged her not to mind it; saying, ‘A pair of gloves here or there is no great matter. All I am concerned for is, putting you off so long from having a little pleasure, for I dare say the boy won’t come till the next two batches; so if that gentleman that looks so particular at me, has a mind to jig it with you a bit himself, in the interim, I won’t be his hindrance.’
Receiving no answer, he bent his head lower down, and said, in a louder voice, ‘Pray, sir, did you hear me?’
‘Sir, you are ineffably good!’ was the reply; without a look, or any further notice.
Much affronted, he said no more, but stood pouting and stiff before Camilla, till the second dance was over, and another general separation of partners took place. ‘I thought how it would be, ma’am,’ he then cried; ‘for I know it’s no such easy matter to find shops open at this time of night; for if people’s ‘prentices can’t take a little pleasure by now, they can’t never.’
Tea being at this time ordered, the whole party collected to remove to the next room. Lionel, seeing Mr. Dubster standing by Camilla, with a rapturous laugh, cried, ‘Well, sister, have you been dancing?’
Camilla, though laughing too, reproachfully shook her head at him; while Mr. Dubster gravely said, ‘It’s no fault of mine, sir, that the lady’s sitting still; for I come and offered myself to her the moment you told me she wanted a partner; but I happened of the misfortune of losing one of my gloves, and not being able to find Tom Hicks, I’ve been waiting all this while for a boy as has promised to get me a pair; though, I suppose he’s fell down in the dark and broke his skull, by his not coming. And, indeed, if that elderly lady had not been so particular, I might as well have done without; for, if I had one on, nobody would have been the wiser but that t’other might have been in my pocket.’
This speech, spoken without any ceremony in the hearing of Miss Margland, to the visible and undisguised delight of Lionel, so much enraged her, that, hastily calling him aside, she peremptorily demanded how he came to bring such a vulgar partner to his sister?
‘Because you took no care to get her a better,’ he answered, heedlessly.
Camilla also began to remonstrate; but, without hearing her, he courteously addressed himself to Mr. Dubster, and told him he was sure Miss Margland and his sister would expect the pleasure of his company to join their party at tea.
Miss Margland frowned in vain; Mr. Dubster bowed, as at a compliment but his due; observing he should then be close at hand for his partner; and they were proceeding to the tea-room, when the finer new acquaintance of Camilla called after Mr. Dubster: ‘Pray, my good sir, who may this Signor Thomaso be, that has the honour to stand so high in your good graces?’
‘Mine, sir?’ cried Mr. Dubster; ‘I know no Signor Thomaso, nor Signor nothing else neither: so I don’t know what you mean.’
‘Did not I hear you dilating, my very good sir, upon a certain Mr. Tom somebody?’
‘What, I suppose then, sir, if the truth be known, you would say Tom Hicks?’
‘Very probably, sir: though I am not of the first accuracy as the gentleman’s nomenclator.’
‘What? don’t you know him, sir? why he’s the head waiter!’
Then, following the rest of the party, he was placed, by the assistance of Lionel, next to Camilla, in utter defiance of all the angry glances of Miss Margland, who herself invited the handsome partner of Eugenia to join their group, and reaped some consolation in his willing civilities; till the attention of the whole assembly was called, or rather commanded by a new object.
A lady, not young, but still handsome, with an air of fashion easy almost to insolence, with a complete but becoming undress, with a work-bag hanging on her arm, whence she was carelessly knotting, entered the ball-room alone, and, walking straight through it to the large folding glass doors of the tea-room, there stopt, and took a general survey of the company, with a look that announced a decided superiority to all she saw, and a perfect indifference to what opinion she incurred in return.
She was immediately joined by all the officers, and several other gentlemen, whose eagerness to shew themselves of her acquaintance marked her for a woman of some consequence; though she took little other notice of them, than that of giving to each some frivolous commission; telling one to hold her work-bag; bidding another fetch her a chair; a third, ask for a glass of water; and a fourth, take care of her cloak. She then planted herself just without the folding-doors, declaring there could be no breathing in the smaller apartment, and sent about the gentlemen for various refreshments; all which she rejected when they arrived, with extreme contempt, and a thousand fantastic grimaces.
The tea-table at which Miss Margland presided being nearest to these folding-doors, she and her party heard, from time to time, most of what was said, especially by the newly arrived lady; who, though she now and then spoke for several minutes in a laughing whisper, to some one she called to her side, uttered most of her remarks, and all her commands quite aloud, with that sort of deliberate ease which belongs to the most determined negligence of who heard, or who escaped hearing her, who were pleased, or who were offended.
Camilla and Eugenia were soon wholly engrossed by this new personage; and Lionel, seeing her surrounded by the most fashionable men of the assembly, forgot Mr. Dubster and his gloves, in an eagerness to be introduced to her.
Colonel Andover, to whom he applied, willingly gratified him: ‘Give me leave, Mrs. Arlbery,’ cried he, to the lady, who was then conversing with General Kinsale, ‘to present to you Mr. Tyrold.’
‘For Heaven’s sake don’t speak to me just now,’ cried she; ‘the General is telling me the most interesting thing in the world. Go on, dear General!’
Lionel, who, if guided by his own natural judgment, would have conceived this to be the height of ill-breeding or of ignorance, no sooner saw Colonel Andover bow in smiling submission to her orders, than he concluded himself all in the dark with respect to the last licences of fashion: and, while contentedly he waited her leisure for his reception, he ran over in his own mind the triumph with which he should carry to Oxford the newest flourish of the bon ton.
In a few minutes, after gaily laughing with the General, she turned suddenly to Colonel Andover, and, striking him on the arm with her fan, exclaimed: ‘Well, now, Colonel, what is it you would say?’
‘Mr. Tyrold,’ he answered, ‘is very ambitious of the honour of being introduced to you.’
‘With all my heart. Which is he?’ And then, nodding to Lionel’s bow, ‘You live, I think,’ she added, ‘in this neighbourhood? By the way, Colonel, how came you never to bring Mr. Tyrold to me before? Mr. Tyrold, I flatter myself you intend to take this very ill.’
Lionel was beginning to express his sense of the loss he had suffered by the delay, when, again, patting the Colonel, ‘Only look, I beg you,’ she cried, ‘at that insupportable Sir Sedley Clarendel! How he sits at his ease there! amusing his ridiculous fancy with every creature he sees. Yet what an elegant posture the animal has found out! I make no doubt he would as soon forfeit his estate as give up that attitude. I must make him come to me immediately for that very reason;-do go to him, good Andover, and say I want him directly.’
The Colonel obeyed; but not so the gentleman he addressed, who was the new acquaintance of Camilla. He only bowed to the message, and, kissing his hand across the room to the lady, desired the Colonel to tell her he was ineffably tired; but would incontestably have the honour to throw himself at her feet the next morning.
‘O, intolerable!’ cried she, ‘he grows more conceited every hour. Yet what an agreeable wretch it is! There’s nothing like him. I cannot possibly do without him. Andover, tell him if he does not come this moment he kills me.’
‘And is that a message,’ said General Kinsale, ‘to cure him of being conceited?’
‘O, Heaven forbid, my good General, I should cure him! That would utterly spoil him. His conceit is precisely what enchants me. Rob him of that, and you lose all hold of him.’
‘Is it then necessary to keep him a fop, in order to retain him in your chains?’
‘O, he is not in my chains, I promise you. A fop, my dear General, wears no chains but his own. However, I like to have him, because he is so hard to be got; and I am fond of conversing with him, because he is so ridiculous. Fetch him, therefore, Colonel, without delay.’
This second embassy prevailed; he shrugged his shoulders, but arose to follow the Colonel.
‘See, madam, your victory!’ said the General. ‘What would not a military man give for such talents of command?’
‘Ay, but look with what magnificent tardiness he obeys orders! There is something quite irresistible in his impertinence; ’tis so conscious and so piquant. I think, General, ’tis a little like my own.’
Sir Sedley now advancing, seized the back of a chair, which he twirled round for a resting place to his elbow, and exclaimed, ‘You know yourself invincible!’ with an air that shewed him languidly prepared for her reproaches: but, to his own surprise, and that of all around him, she only, with a smile and a nod, cried, ‘How do do?’ and immediately turning wholly away from him, addressed herself to Colonel Andover, desiring him to give her the history of who was in the tea-room.
At this time a young Ensign, who had been engaged at a late dinner in the neighbourhood, stroamed into the ballroom, with the most visible marks of his unfitness for appearing in it; and, in total ignorance of his own condition, went up to Colonel Andover, and, clapping him upon the back, called out, with a loud oath, ‘Colonel, I hope you have taken care to secure to me the prettiest little young angel in the room? You know with what sincerity I despise an old hag.’
The Colonel, with some concern, advised him to retire; but, insensible to his counsel, he uttered oath upon oath, and added, ‘I’m not to be played upon, Colonel. Beauty in a pretty girl is as necessary an ingredient, as honour in a brave soldier; and I could find in my heart to sink down to the bottom of the Channel every fellow without one, and every dear creature without the other.’
Then, in defiance of all remonstrance, he staggered into the tearoom; and, after a short survey, stopt opposite to Indiana, and, swearing aloud she was the handsomest angel he had ever beheld, begged her hand without further ceremony; assuring her he had broken up the best party that had yet been made for him in the county, merely for the joy of dancing with her.
Indiana, to whom not the smallest doubt of the truth of this assertion occurred; and who, not suspecting he was intoxicated, thought his manner the most spirited and gallant she had ever seen, was readily accepting his offer; when Edgar, who saw her danger, started up, and exclaimed: ‘This lady, sir, is engaged to dance the next two dances with me.’
‘The lady did not tell me so, sir!’ cried the Ensign, firing.
‘Miss Lynmere,’ replied Edgar, coolly, ‘will pardon me, that on this occasion, my memory has an interest to be better than her’s . I believe it is time for us to take our places.’
He then whispered a brief excuse to Camilla, and hurried Indiana to the ballroom.
The Ensign, who knew not that she had danced with him the last time, was obliged to submit; while Indiana, not conjecturing the motive that now impelled Edgar, was in a yet brighter blaze of beauty, from an exhilarating notion that there was a contest for the honour of her hand.
Camilla, once more disappointed of Edgar, had now no resource against Mr. Dubster, but the non-arrival of the gloves; for he had talked so publicly of waiting for them to dance with her, that every one regarded her as engaged.
No new proposition being made for Eugenia, Miss Margland permitted her again to be led out by the handsome stranger.
When she was gone, Mr. Dubster, who kept constantly close to Camilla, said: ‘They tell me, ma’am, that ugly little body’s a great fortune!’
Camilla very innocently asked who he meant.
‘Why that little lame thing, that was here drinking tea with you. Tom Hicks says she’ll have a power of money.’
Camilla, whose sister was deservedly dear to her, looked much displeased; but Mr. Dubster, not perceiving it, continued: ‘He recommended it to me to dance with her myself, from the first upon that account. But I says to him, says I, I had no notion that a person, who had such a hobble in their gait, would think of such thing as going to dancing. But there I was out, for as to the women, asking your pardon, ma’am, there’s nothing will put ’em off from their pleasure. But, however, for my part, I had no thought of dancing at all, if it had not been for that young gentleman’s asking me; for I’m not over fond of such jiggets, as they’ve no great use in ’em; only I happened to be this way, upon a little matter of business, so I thought I might as well come an see the hop, as Tom Hicks could contrive to get me a ticket.’
This was the sort of discourse with which Camilla was regaled till the two dances were over; and then, begging her to sit still till he came back, he quitted her, to see what he could do about his gloves. Edgar, when he returned with Indiana, addressed himself privately to Miss Margland, whom he advised to take the young ladies immediately home; as it would not be possible for him, a second time, to break through the rules of the assembly, and Indiana must, therefore, inevitably accept the young Ensign, who already was following and claiming her, and whose condition was obviously improper for the society of ladies.
Miss Margland, extremely pleased with him, for thus protecting her pupil, instantly agreed; and, collecting her three young charges, hastened them down stairs; though the young Ensign, inflamed with angry disappointment, uttered the most bitter lamentations at their sudden departure; and though Mr. Dubster, pursuing them to the coach door, called out to Camilla, in a tone of pique and vexation, “Why, what are you going for now, ma’am, when I have just got a new pair of gloves, that I have bought o’ purpose?’
IN their way home, Edgar apologised to Camilla for again foregoing the promised pleasure of dancing with her, by explaining the situation of the Ensign.
Camilla, internally persuaded that any reason would suffice for such an arrangement, where Indiana was its object, scarce listened to an excuse which she considered as unnecessary.
Indiana was eager to view in the glass how her dress and ornaments had borne the shaking of the dance, and curiously impatient to look anew at a face and a figure of which no self-vanity, nor even the adulation of Miss Margland, had taught her a consciousness, such as she had acquired from the adventures of this night. She hastened, therefore, to her apartment as soon as she arrived at Cleves, and there indulged in an examination which forbade all surprise, and commanded equal justice for the admirers and the admired.
Miss Margland, anxious to make her own report to Sir Hugh, accompanied Camilla and Eugenia to his room, where he was still sitting up for them.
She expatiated upon the behaviour of young Mandlebert, in terms that filled the baronet with satisfaction, She exulted in the success of her own measures; and, sinking the circumstance of the intended impartiality of Edgar, enlarged upon his dancing, out of his turn, with Indiana, as at an event which manifested his serious designs beyond all possibility of mistake.
Sir Hugh, in the fulness of his content, promised that when the wedding day arrived, they should all have as fine new gowns as the bride herself.
The next morning, not considering that every one else would require unusual repose, he got up before his customary hour, from an involuntary hope of accelerating his favourite project; but he had long the breakfast parlour to himself, and became so fatigued and discomfited by fasting and waiting, that when Indiana, who appeared last, but for whom he insisted upon staying, entered the room, he said: ‘My dear, I could really find a pleasure in giving you a little scold, if it were not for setting a bad example, which God forbid! And, indeed, it’s not so much your fault as the ball’s, to which I can never be a sincere friend, unless it be just to answer some particular purpose.’
Miss Margland defended her pupil, and called upon Mandlebert for assistance, which he readily gave. Sir Hugh then was not merely appeased but gratified, and declared, the next moment, with a marked smile at Indiana, that his breakfast had not relished so well for a twelvemonth, owing to the advantage of not beginning till he had got an appetite.
Soon after, Lionel, galloping across the park, hastily dismounted, and scampered into the parlour.
The zealot for every species of sport, the candidate for every order of whim, was the light-hearted mirthful Lionel. A stranger to reflection, and incapable of care, laughter seemed not merely the bent of his humour, but the necessity of his existence: he pursued it at all seasons, he indulged it upon all occasions. With excellent natural parts, he trifled away all improvement; without any ill temper, he spared no one’s feelings. Yet, though not radically vicious, nor deliberately malevolent, the egotism which urged him to make his own amusement his first pursuit, sacrificed his best friends and first duties, if they stood in its way.
‘Come, my little girls, come!’ cried he, as he entered the room; ‘get your hats and cloaks as fast as possible; there is a public breakfast at Northwick, and you are all expected without delay.’
This sudden invitation occasioned a general commotion. Indiana gave an involuntary jump; Camilla and Eugenia looked delighted; and Miss Margland seemed ready to second the proposition; but Sir Hugh, with some surprise, exclaimed: ‘A public breakfast, my dear boy! why where’s the need of that, when we have got so good a private one?’
‘O, let us go! let us go, uncle!’ cried Indiana. ‘Miss Margland, do pray speak to my uncle to let us go!’
‘Indeed, sir,’ said Miss Margland, ‘it is time now, in all conscience, for the young ladies to see a little more of the world, and that it should be known who they are. I am sure they have been immured long enough, and I only wish you had been at the ball last night, sir, yourself!’
‘Me, Mrs. Margland! Lord help me! what should I do at such a thing as that, with all this gout in my hip?’
‘You would have seen, sir, the fine effects of keeping the young ladies out of society in this manner. Miss Camilla, if I had not prevented it, would have danced with I don’t know who; and as to Miss Eugenia, she was as near as possible to not dancing at all, owing to nobody’s knowing who she was.’
Sir Hugh had no time to reply to this attack, from the urgency of Indiana, and the impetuosity of Lionel, who, applying to Camilla, said: ‘Come, child, ask my uncle yourself, and then we shall go at once.’
Camilla readily made it her own request.
‘My dear,’ answered Sir Hugh, ‘I can’t be so unnatural to deny you a little pleasure, knowing you to be such a merry little whirligig; not but what you’d enjoy yourself just as much at home, if they’d let you alone. However, as Indiana’s head is so much turned upon it, for which I beg you won’t think the worse of her, Mr. Mandlebert, it being no more than the common fault of a young person no older than her; why, you must all go, I think, provided you are not satisfied already, which, by the breakfast you have made, I should think likely enough to be the case.’
They then eagerly arose, and the females hastened to make some change in their dress. Sir Hugh, calling Eugenia back, said: ‘As to you, my little classic, I make but small doubt you will be half ready to break your heart at missing your lesson, knowing hic, haec, hoc, to be dearer to you, and for good reasons enough, too, in the end, than all the hopping and skipping in the world; so if you had rather stay away, don’t mind all those dunces; for so I must needs call them, in comparison to you and Dr. Orkborne, though without the least meaning to undervalue them.’
Eugenia frankly acknowledged she had been much amused the preceding evening, and wished to be again of the party.
‘Why then, if that’s the case,’ said the baronet, ‘the best way will be for Dr. Orkborne to be your squire; by which means you may have a little study as you go along, to the end that the less time may be thrown away in doing nothing.’
Eugenia, who perceived no objection to this idea, assented, and went quietly up stairs, to prepare for setting out. Sir Hugh, by no means connecting the laughter of Lionel, nor the smile of Edgar, with his proposal, gravely repeated it to Dr. Orkborne, adding: ‘And if you want a nice pair of gloves, Doctor, not that I make the offer in any detriment to your own, but I had six new pair come home just before my gout, which, I can assure you, have never seen the light since, and are as much at your service as if I had bespoke them on purpose.’
The mirth of Lionel grew now so outrageous, that Dr. Orkborne, much offended, walked out of the room without making any answer.
‘There is something,’ cried Sir Hugh, after a pause, ‘in these men of learning, prodigious nice to deal with; however, not understanding them, in point of their maxims, it’s likely enough I may have done something wrong; for he could not have seemed much more affronted, if I had told him I had six new pair of gloves lying by me, which he should be never the better for.’
When they were all ready, Sir Hugh calling to Edgar, said: ‘Now as I don’t much chuse to have my girls go to these sort of places often, which is a prudence that I dare say you approve as much as myself, I would wish to have the most made of them at once; and, therefore, as I’ve no doubt but they’ll strike up a dance, after having eat what they think proper, why I would advise you, Mr. Mandlebert, to let Indiana trip it away till she’s heartily tired, for else she’ll never give it up, with a good grace, of her own accord.’
‘Certainly, sir,’ answered Edgar, ‘I shall not hurry the ladies.’
‘O, as to any of the rest,’ interrupted Sir Hugh, ‘they’ll be as soon satisfied as yourself, except,’ lowering his voice, ‘Mrs. Margland, who, between friends, seems to me as glad of one of those freaks, as when she was but sixteen; which how long it is since she was no more I can’t pretend to say, being a point she never mentions.’
Then addressing them in general: ‘I wish you a good breakfast,’ he cried, ‘with all my heart, which I think you pretty well deserve, considering you go so far for it, with one close at your elbow, but just swallowed. And so, my dear Indiana, I hope you won’t tire Mr. Mandlebert more than can’t be avoided.’
‘How came you to engage Indiana again, Mandlebert?’ cried Lionel, in their way to the carriage.
‘Because,’ said Miss Margland, finding he hesitated, ‘there is no other partner so proper for Miss Lynmere.’
‘And pray what’s the matter with me? why am not I as proper as Mandlebert?’
‘Because you are her relation, to be sure!’
‘Well,’ cried he, vaulting his horse, ‘if I meet but the widow, I shall care for none of you.’
THE unfitting, however customary, occasion of this speedy repetition of public amusement in the town of Northwick, was, that the county assizes were now held there; and the arrival of the judges of the land, to hear causes which kept life or death suspended, was the signal for entertainment to the surrounding neighbourhood: a hardening of human feelings against human crimes and human miseries, at which reflection revolts, however habit may persevere.
The young men, who rode on first, joined the ladies as they entered the town, and told them to drive straight to the ballroom, where the company had assembled, in consequence of a shower of rain which had forced them from the public garden intended for the breakfast.
Here, as they stopt, a poor woman, nearly in rags, with one child by her side, and another in her arms, approached the carriage, and presenting a petition, besought the ladies to read or hear her case. Eugenia, with the ready impulse of generous affluence, instantly felt for her purse; but Miss Margland, angrily holding her hand, said, with authority: ‘Miss Eugenia, never encourage beggars; you don’t know the mischief you may do by it.’ Eugenia reluctantly desisted, but made a sign to her footman to give something for her. Edgar then alighting, advanced to hand them from the coach, while Lionel ran forward to settle their tickets of admittance.
The woman now grew more urgent in her Supplications, and Miss Margland in her remonstrances against attending to them.
Indiana, who was placed under the care of Edgar, enchanted to again display herself where sure of again being admired, neither heard nor saw the petitioner; but dimpling and smiling, quickened her motions towards the assembly room: while Camilla, who was last, stopping short, said: ‘What is the matter, poor woman?’ and took her paper to examine.
Miss Margland, snatching it from her, threw it on the ground, peremptorily saying: ‘Miss Camilla, if once you begin such a thing as that, there will be no end to it; so come along with the rest of your company, like other people.’
She then haughtily proceeded; but Camilla, brought up by her admirable parents never to pass distress without inquiry, nor to refuse giving at all, because she could give but little, remained with the poor object, and repeated her question. The woman, shedding a torrent of tears, said she was wife to one of the prisoners who was to be tried the next day, and who expected to lose his life, or be transported, for only one bad action of stealing a leg of mutton; which, though she knew it to be a sin, was not without excuse, being a first offence, and committed in poverty and sickness. And this, she was told, the judges would take into consideration; but her husband was now so ill, that he could not feed on the gaol allowance, and not having wherewithal to buy any other, would either die before his trial, or be too weak to make known his sad story in his own behalf, for want of some wine or some broth to support him in the meanwhile.
Camilla, hastily giving her a shilling, took one of her petitions, and promising to do all in her power to serve her, left the poor creature almost choaked with sobbing joy. She was flying to join her party, when she perceived Edgar at her side. ‘I came to see,’ cried he, with glistening eyes, ‘if you were running away from us; but you were doing far better in not thinking of us at all.’
Camilla, accustomed from her earliest childhood to attend to the indigent and unhappy, felt neither retreating shame, nor parading pride in the office; she gave him the petition of the poor woman, and begged he would consider if there was any thing that could be done for her husband.
‘I have received a paper from herself,’ he answered, ‘before you alighted; and I hope I should not have neglected it: but I will now take yours, that my memory may run no risk.’
They then went on to the assembly room.
The company, which was numerous, was already seated at breakfast. Indiana and Camilla, now first surveyed by daylight, again attracted all eyes; but, in the simplicity of undress, the superiority of Indiana was no longer wholly unrivalled, though the general voice was still strongly in her favour.
Indiana was a beauty of so regular a cast, that her face had no feature, no look to which criticism could point as susceptible of improvement, or on which admiration could dwell with more delight than on the rest. No statuary could have modelled her form with more exquisite symmetry; no painter have harmonised her complexion with greater brilliancy of colouring. But here ended the liberality of nature, which, in not sullying this fair workmanship by inclosing in it what was bad, contentedly left it vacant of whatever was noble and desirable.
The beauty of Camilla, though neither perfect nor regular, had an influence so peculiar on the beholder, it was hard to catch its fault; and the cynic connoisseur, who might persevere in seeking it, would involuntarily surrender the strict rules of his art to the predominance of its loveliness. Even judgment itself, the coolest and last betrayed of our faculties, she took by surprise, though it was not till she was absent the seizure was detected. Her disposition was ardent in sincerity, her mind untainted with evil. The reigning and radical defect of her character-an imagination that submitted to no control-proved not any antidote against her attractions; it caught, by its force and fire, the quick-kindling admiration of the lively; it possessed, by magnetic pervasion, the witchery to create sympathy in the most serious.
In their march up the room, Camilla was spoken to by a person from the tea-table, who was distinct from every other, by being particularly ill dressed; and who, though she did not know him, asked her how she did, with a familiar look of intimacy. She slightly curtsied, and endeavoured to draw her party more nimbly on; when another person, equally conspicuous, though from being accoutred in the opposite extreme of full dress, quitting his seat, formally made up to her, and drawing on a stiff pair of new gloves as he spoke, said: ‘So you are come at last, ma’am! I began to think you would not come at all, begging that gentleman’s pardon, who told me to the contrary last night, when I thought, thinks I, here I’ve bought these new gloves, for no reason but to oblige the young lady, and now I might as well not have bought ’em at all.’ Camilla, ready to laugh, yet much provoked at this renewed claim from her old persecutor, Mr. Dubster, looked vainly for redress at the mischievous Lionel, who archly answered: ‘O, ay, true, sister; I told the gentleman, last night, you would be sure to make him amends this morning for putting him to so much expence.’
‘I’m sure, Sir,’ said Mr. Dubster, ‘I did not speak for that, expence being no great matter to me at this time; only nobody likes to fool away their money for nothing.’
Edgar having now, at the end of one of the tables, secured places for the ladies, Lionel again, in defiance of the frowns of Miss Margland, invited Mr. Dubster to join them: even the appealing looks of Camilla served but to increase her brother’s ludicrous diversion, in coupling her with so ridiculous a companion; who, without seeming at all aware of the liberty he was taking, engrossed her wholly.
‘So I see, ma’am,’ he cried, pointing to Eugenia, ‘you’ve brought that limping little body with you again? Tom Hicks had like to have took me in finely about her! He thought she was the great fortune of these here parts; and if it had not been for the young gentleman, I might have known no better neither, for there’s half the room in the same scrape at this minute.’
Observing Camilla regard him with an unpleasant surprise, he more solemnly added: ‘I ask pardon, ma’am, for mentioning the thing, which I only do in excuse for what I said last night, not knowing then you was the fortune yourself.’
An eager sign of silence from Lionel, forbade her explaining this mistake; Mr. Dubster, therefore, proceeded:
‘When Tom Hicks told me about it, I said at the time, says I, she looks more like to some sort of a humble young person, just brought out of a little good-nature to see the company, and the like of that; for she’s not a bit like a lady of fortunes, with that nudging look; and I said to Tom Hicks, by way of joke, says I, if I was to think of her, which I don’t think I shall, at least she would not be much in my way, for she could not follow a body much about, because of that hitch in her gait, for I’m a pretty good walker.’
Here the ill dressed man, who had already spoken to Camilla, quitting his seat, strolled up to her, and fastening his eyes upon her face, though without bowing, made some speech about the weather, with the lounging freedom of manner of a confirmed old acquaintance. His whole appearance had an air of even wilful slovenliness: His hair was uncombed; he was in boots, which were covered with mud; his coat seemed to have been designedly immersed in powder, and his universal negligence was not only shabby but uncleanly. Astonished and offended by his forwardness, Camilla turned entirely away from him.
Not disconcerted by this distance, he procured a chair, upon which he cast himself, perfectly at his case, immediately behind her.
Just as the general breakfast was over, and the waiters were summoned to clear away the tables, and prepare the room for dancing, the lady who had so strikingly made her appearance the preceding evening, again entered. She was alone, as before, and walked up the room with the same decided air of indifference to all opinion; sometimes knotting with as much diligence and earnestness as if her subsistence depended upon the rapidity of her work; and at other times stopping short, she applied to her eye a near sighted glass, which hung to her finger, and intently examined some particular person or group; then, with a look of absence, as if she had not seen a creature, she hummed an opera song to herself, and proceeded. Her rouge was remarkably well put on, and her claim to being still a fine woman, though past her prime, was as obvious as it was conscious: Her dress was more fantastic and studied than the night before, in the same proportion as that of every other person present was more simple and quiet; and the commanding air of her countenance, and the easiness of her carriage, spoke a confirmed internal assurance, that her charms and her power were absolute, wherever she thought their exertion worth her trouble.
When she came to the head of the room, she turned about, and, with her glass, surveyed the whole company; then smilingly advancing to the sloven, whom Camilla was shunning, she called out: ‘O! are you there? what rural deity could break your rest so early?’
‘None!’ answered he, rubbing his eyes; ‘I am invulnerably asleep at this very moment! In the very center of the morphetic dominions. But how barbarously late you are! I should never have come to this vastly horrid place before my ride, if I had imagined you could be so excruciating.’
Struck with a jargon of which she could not suspect two persons to be capable, Camilla turned round to her slighted neighbour, and with the greatest surprise recognised, upon examination, the most brilliant beau of the preceding evening, in the worst dressed man of the present morning.
The lady now, again holding her glass to her eye, which she directed without scruple towards Camilla and her party, said: ‘Who have you got there?’
Camilla looked hastily away, and her whole set, abashed by so unseasoned an inquiry, cast down their eyes.
‘Hey!’ cried he, calmly viewing them, as if for the first time himself: ‘Why, I’ll tell you!’ Then making her bend to hear his whisper, which, nevertheless, was by no means intended for her own ear alone, he added: ‘Two little things as pretty as angels, and two others as ugly as–I say no more!’
‘O, I take in the full force of your metaphor!’ cried she, laughing; ‘and acknowledge the truth of its contrast.’
Camilla alone, as they meant, had heard them; and ashamed for herself, and provoked to find Eugenia coupled with Miss Margland, she endeavoured to converse with some of her own society; but their attention was entirely engaged by the whispers; nor could she, for more than a minute, deny her own curiosity the pleasure of observing them.
They now spoke together for some time in low voices, laughing immoderately at the occasional sallies of each other; Sir Sedley Clarendel sitting at his ease, Mrs. Arlbery standing, and knotting by his side.
The officers, and almost all the beaux, began to crowd to this spot; but neither the gentleman nor the lady interrupted their discourse to return or receive any salutations. Lionel, who with much eagerness had quitted an inside seat at a long table, to pay his court to Mrs. Arlbery, could catch neither her eye nor her ear for his bow or his compliment.
Sir Sedley, at last, looking up in her face and smiling, said: ‘A’n’t you shockingly tired?’
‘To death!’ answered she, coolly.
‘Why then, I am afraid, I must positively do the thing that’s old fashioned.’
And rising, and making her a very elegant bow, he presented her his seat, adding: ‘There, ma’am! I have the honour to give you my chair-at the risk of my reputation.’
‘I should have thought,’ cried Lionel, now getting forward ‘that omitting to give it would rather have risked your reputation.’
‘It is possible you could be born before all that was over?’ said Mrs. Arlbery, dropping carelessly upon the chair as she perceived Lionel, whom she honoured with a nod: ‘How do do, Mr. Tyrold? are you just come in?’ But turning again to Sir Sedley, without waiting for his answer, ‘I swear, you barbarian,’ she cried, ‘you have really almost killed me with fatigue.’
‘Have I indeed?’ said he, smiling.
Mr. Dubster now, leaning over the table, solemnly said: ‘I am sure I should have offered the lady my own place, if I had not been so tired myself; but Tom Hicks over-persuaded me to dance a bit before you came in, ma’am,’ addressing Camilla, ‘for you have lost a deal of dancing by coming so late; for they all fell to as soon as ever they come; and, as I’m not over and above used to it, it soon makes one a little stiffish, as one may say; and indeed, the lady’s much better off in getting a chair, for one sits mighty little at one’s ease on these here benches, with nothing to lean one’s back against.’
‘And who’s that?’ cried Mrs. Arlbery to Sir Sedley, looking Mr. Dubster full in the face.
Sir Sedley made some answer in a whisper, which proved highly entertaining to them both. Mr. Dubster, with an air much offended, said to Camilla: ‘People’s laughing and whispering, which one don’t know what it’s about, is not one of the politest things, I know, for polite people to do; and, in my mind, they ought to be above it.’
This resentment excited Lionel to join in the laugh; and Mr.. Dubster, with great gravity of manner, rose, and said to Camilla: ‘When you are ready to dance, ma’am, I am willing to be your partner, and I shan’t engage myself to nobody else; but I shall go to t’other end of the room till you choose to stand up; for I don’t much care to stay here, only to be laughed at, when I don’t know what it’s for.’
They now all left the table; and Lionel eagerly begged permission to introduce his sisters and and cousin to Mrs. Arlbery, who readily consented to the proposal.
Indiana advanced with pleasure into a circle of beaux, whose eyes were most assiduous to welcome her. Camilla, though a little alarmed in being presented to a lady of so singular a deportment, had yet a curiosity to see more of her, that willingly seconded her brother’s motion. And Eugenia, to whose early reflecting mind every new character and new scene opened a fresh fund for thought, if not for knowledge, was charmed to take a nearer view of what promised such food for observation, But Miss Margland began an angry remonstrance against the proceedings of Lionel, in thus taking out of her hands the direction of her charges. What she urged, however, was vain: Lionel was only diverted by her wrath, and the three young ladies, as they had not requested the introduction, did not feel themselves responsible for its taking effect.
Lionel led them on: Mrs. Arlbery half rose to return their curtsies; and gave them a reception so full of vivacity and good humour, that they soon forgot the ill will with which Miss Margland had suffered them to quit her; and even lost all recollection that it belonged to them to return to her. The satisfaction of Indiana, indeed, flowed simply from the glances of admiration which every where met her eye; but Eugenia attended to every word, and every motion of Mrs. Arlbery, with that sort of earnestness which marks an intelligent child at a first play; and Camilla, still more struck by the novelty of this new acquaintance scarce permitted herself to breathe, lest she should lose anything she said.
Mrs. Arlbery perceived their youthful wonder, and felt propensity to increase it, which strengthened all her powers, and called forth all her faculties. Wit she possessed at will; and, with exertions which rendered it uncommonly brilliant, she displayed it, now to them, now to the gentlemen, with a gaiety so fantastic, a raillery so arch, a spirit of satire so seasoned with a delight in coquetry, and a certain negligence of air so enlivened by a whimsical pleasantry, that she could not have failed to strike with admiration even the most hackneyed seekers of character; much less the inexperienced young creatures now presented to her; who with open eyes and ears, regarded her as a phenomenon, upon finding that the splendor of her talents equalled the singularity of her manners.
When the room was prepared for dancing, Major Cerwood brought to Indiana Mr. Macdersey, the young Ensign who had so improperly addressed her at the ball; and, after a formal apology, in his name, for what had passed, begged the honour of her hand for him this morning. Indiana, flattered and fluttered together by this ceremony, almost forgot Edgar, who stood quietly but watchfully aloof, and was actually giving her consent when, meeting his eye, she recollected she was already engaged. Mr. Macdersey hoped for more success another time, and Edgar advanced to lead his fair partner to her place.
Major Cerwood offered himself to Camilla; but Mr. Dubster coming forward, pulled him by the elbow, and making a stiff low bow, said: ‘Sir, I ask your pardon for taking the liberty of giving you such a jog, but the young lady’s been engaged to me ever so long.’ The Major looked surprised; but, observing that Camilla coloured, he bowed respectfully and retreated.
Camilla, ashamed of her beau, determined not to dance at all: though she saw, with much vexation, upon the general dispersion, Miss Margland approach to claim her. Educated in all the harmony of contentment and benevolence, she had a horrour of a temper so irascible, that made it a penance to remain a moment in its vicinity. Mr. Dubster, however, left her not alone to it: when she positively refused his hand, he said it was equal agreeable to him to have only a little dish of chat with her; and composedly stationed himself before her. Eugenia had already been taken out by the handsome stranger, with whom she had danced the evening before; and Lionel, bewitched with Mrs. Arlbery, enlisted himself entirely in her train; and with Sir Sedley Clarendel, and almost every man of any consequence in the room, declined all dancing for the pleasure of attending her.
Mr. Dubster, unacquainted with the natural high spirits of Camilla, inferred nothing to his own disadvantage from her silence, but talked incessantly himself with perfect complacency. ‘Do you know, ma’am,’ cried he, ‘just as that elderly lady, that, I suppose, is your mamma, took you all away in that hurry last night, up comes the boy with my new pair of gloves! but, though I run down directly to tell you of it, there was no making the old lady stop; which I was fool to try at; for as to women, I know their obstinacy of old. But what I grudged the most was, as soon as I come up again, as ill luck would have it, Tom Hicks finds me my own t’other glove! So there I had two pair, when I might as well have had never a one!’
Observing that Eugenia was dancing, ‘Lack a-day!’ he exclaimed, ‘I’ll lay a wager that poor gentleman has been took in, just as I was yesterday! He thinks that young lady that’s had the small-pox so bad, is you, ma’am! ’Twould be a fine joke if such a mistake as that should get the little lame duck, as I call her, a husband! He’d be in a fine hobble when he found he’d got nothing but her ugly face for his bargain. Though, provided she’d had the rhino, it would not much have signified: for, as to being pretty or not, it’s not great matter in a wife. A man soon tires of seeing nothing but the same face, if it’s one of the best.’
Camilla here, in the midst of her chagrin, could not forbear asking him if he was married? ‘Yes, ma’am,’ answered he calmly, ‘I’ve had two wives to my share already; so I know what I’m speaking of; though I’ve buried them both. Why it was all along of my wives, what with the money I had with one, and what with the money I had with the other, that I got out of business so soon.’
‘You were very much obliged to them, then?’
‘Why, yes, ma’am, as to that, I can’t say to the contrary, now that they’re gone: but I can’t say I had much comfort with ’em while they lived. They was always a thinking they had a right to what they had a mind, because of what they brought me; so that I had enough to do to scrape a little matter together, in case of outliving them. One of ’em has not been dead above a twelvemonth, or there about; these are the first clothes I’ve bought since I left off my blacks.’
When Indiana past them, he expressed his admiration of her beauty. ‘That young lady, ma’am,’ he said, ‘cuts you all up, sure enough. She’s as fine a piece of red and white as ever I see. I could think of such a young lady as that myself, if I did not remember that I thought no more of my wife that was pretty, than of my wife that was ugly, after the first month or so. Beauty goes for a mere nothing in matrimony, when once one’s used to it. Besides, I’ve no great thoughts at present of entering into the state again of one while, at any rate, being but just got to be a little comfortable.’
The second dance was now called, when Mrs. Arlbery, coming suddenly behind Camilla, said, in a low voice, ‘Do you know who you are talking with?’
‘A young tinker, my dear! that’s all!’ And, with a provoking nod, she retreated.
Camilla, half ready to laugh, half to cry, restrained herself with difficulty from running after her; and Mr. Dubster, observing that she abruptly turned away, and would listen no more, again claimed her for his partner; and, upon her absolute refusal, surprised and affronted, walked off in silence. She was then finally condemned to the morose society of Miss Margland: and invectives against Sir Hugh for mismanagement, and Lionel, with whom now that lady was at open war, for impertinence, filled up the rest of her time, till the company was informed that refreshments were served in the card-room.
Thither, immediately, every body flocked, with as much speed and avidity, as if they had learnt to appreciate the blessing of plenty, by the experience of want. Such is the vacancy of dissipated pleasure, that, never satisfied with what it possesses, an opening always remains for something yet to be tried, and, on that something still to come, all enjoyment seems to depend.
The day beginning now to clear, the sashes of a large bow window were thrown up. Sir Sedley Clarendel sauntered thither, and instantly everybody followed, as if there were no breathing anywhere else; declaring, while they pressed upon one another almost to suffocation, that nothing was so reviving as the fresh air: and, in a minute, not a creature was to be seen in any other part of the room.
Here, in full view, stood sundry hapless relations of the poorer part of the prisoners to be tried the next morning, who, with supplicating hands and eyes, implored the compassion of the company, whom their very calamities assembled for amusement.
Nobody took any notice of them; nobody appeared even to see them: but, one by one, all glided gently away, and the bow window was presently the only empty space in the apartment.
Camilla, contented with having already presented her mite, and Eugenia, with having given her’s in commission, retired unaffectedly with the rest; while Miss Margland, shrugging up her shoulders, and declaring there was no end of beggars, pompously added, ‘However, we gave before we came in.’
Presently, a paper was handed about, to collect half guineas for a raffle. A beautiful locket, set round with pearls, ornamented at the top with a little knot of small brilliants, and very elegantly shaped, with a space left for a braid of hair, or a cypher, was produced; and, as if by magnetic power, attracted into almost every hand the capricious coin, which distress, but the moment before had repelled.
Miss Margland lamented she had only guineas or silver, but suffered Edgar to be her paymaster; privately resolving, that, if she won the locket, she would remember the debt: Eugenia, amused in seeing the humour of all that was going forward, readily put in; Indiana, satisfied her uncle would repay the expences of the day, with a heart panting from hope of the prize, did the same; but Camilla hung back, totally unused to hazard upon what was unnecessary the little allowance she had been taught to spend sparingly upon herself, that something might be always in her power to bestow upon others. The character of this raffle was not of that interesting nature which calls forth from the affluent and easy respect as well as aid: the prize belonged to no one whom adversity compelled to change what once was an innocent luxury, into the means of subsistence; it was the mere common mode of getting rid of a mere common bauble, which no one had thought worth the full price affixed to it by its toyman. She knew not, however, till now, how hard to resist was the contagion of example, and felt a struggle in her self-denial, that made her, when she put the locket down, withdraw from the crowd, and resolve not to look at it again.
Edgar, who had observed her, read her secret conflict with an emotion which impelled him to follow her, that he might express his admiration; but he was stopt by Mrs. Arlbery, who just then hastily attacked her with, ‘What have you done with your friend the tinker, my dear?’
Camilla, laughing, though extremely ashamed, said, she knew nothing at all about him.
‘You talked with him, then, by way of experiment, to see how you might like him?’
‘No, indeed! I merely answered him when I could not help it; but still I thought, at a ball, gentlemen only would present themselves.’
‘And how many couple,’ said Mrs. Aribery, smiling, ‘do you calculate would, in that case, stand up?’
She then ordered one of the beaux who attended her, to bring her a chair, and told another to fetch her the locket. Edgar was again advancing to Camilla, when Lionel, whose desire to obtain the good graces of Mrs. Arlbery, had suggested to him an anticipation of her commands, pushed forward with the locket.
‘Well, really, it is not ugly,’ cried she, taking it in her hand: ‘Have you put in yet, Miss Tyrold?’
‘O, I am vastly glad of that; for now we will try our fortune together.’
Camilla, though secretly blushing at what she felt was an extravagance, could not withstand this invitation: she gave her half guinea.
Edgar, disappointed, retreated in silence.
The money being collected, and the names of the rafflers taken down, information was given, that the prize was to be thrown for in three days time, at one o’clock at noon, in the shop of a bookseller at Northwick.
Some of the company now departed; others prepared for a last dance. Miss Margland desired Lionel to see for their carriage; but Lionel had no greater joy than to disregard her. Indiana asked earnestly to stay longer; Miss Margland said, she could only give way to her request, upon condition her partner should be Mr. Mandlebert. It was in vain she urged that she was already engaged to Colonel Andover; Miss Margland was inexorable, and Edgar, laughing, said, he should certainly have the whole corps upon his back; but the honour was sufficient to counterbalance the risk, and he would, therefore, beg the Colonel’s patience.
‘Mr. Mandlebert,’ said Miss Margland, ‘I know enough of quarrels at balls about partners, and ladies changing their minds, to know how to act pretty well in those cases: I shall desire, therefore, to speak to the Colonel myself, and not trust two gentlemen together upon such a nice matter.’
She then beckoned to the Colonel, who stood at a little distance, and, taking him apart, told him, she flattered herself he would not be offended, if Miss Lynmere should dance again with Mr. Mandlebert, though rather out of rule, as there were particular reasons for it.
The Colonel, with a smile, said he perceived Mr. Mandlebert was the happy man, and acquiesced.
A general murmur now ran buzzing round the room, that Mr. Mandlebert and Miss Lynmere were publicly contracted to each other; and, amongst many who heard with displeasure that the young beauty was betrothed before she was exhibited to view, Mr. Macdersey appeared to suffer the most serious mortification.
As soon as this dance was over, Edgar conducted his ladies to an apartment below stairs, and went in search of the carriage. He did not return for some time. Miss Margland, as usual, grumbled; but Camilla, perceiving Mrs. Arlbery, rejoiced in the delay; and stationed herself by her side, all alive in attending to the pleasantry with which she was amusing herself and those around her.
When Edgar, who seemed out of breath from running, came back, he made but short answers to the murmurs of Miss Margland; and, hastening to Camilla, said: ‘I have been with your petitioner:-she has all that can comfort her for the present; and I have learnt the name of her husband’s counsel. You will be so good as to excuse me at dinner to Sir Hugh. I shall remain here till I can judge what may be done.’
The attention of Camilla was now effectually withdrawn from Mrs. Arlbery, and the purest delight of which human feelings are susceptible, took sudden and sole possession of her youthful mind, in the idea of being instrumental to the preservation of a fellow-creature.
Edgar saw, in the change, yet brightness of her countenance, what passed within;-and his disappointment concerning the raffle was immediately forgotten.
A short consultation followed, in which both spoke with so much energy, as not only to overpower the remonstrances of Miss Margland for their departure, but to catch the notice of Mrs. Arlbery, who, coming forward, and leaning her hand on the shoulder of Camilla, said: ‘Tell me what it is that has thus animated you? Have you heard any good tidings of your new friend?’
Camilla instantly and eagerly related the subject that occupied them, without observing that the whole company around were smiling, at her earnestness in a cause of such common distress.
‘You are new, my dear,’ said Mrs. Arlbery, patting her cheek, ‘very new; but I take the whim sometimes of being charitable myself, for a little variety. It always looks pretty; and begging is no bad way of shewing off one’s powers. So give me your documents, and I’ll give you my eloquence.’
Camilla presented her the petition, and she invited Mandlebert to dine with her. Miss Margland then led the way, and the female party returned to Cleves.
IT was late when Edgar returned to Cleves. Camilla flew to meet him. He told her everything relative to her petitioner was in the most prosperous train; he had seen the prisoner, heard the particulars of his story, which all tended to his exculpation; and Mrs. Arlbery had contrived to make acquaintance with his counsel, whom she found perfectly well disposed to exert himself in the cause, and whom she had invited to a splendid supper. The trial was to take place the next morning.
Camilla, already powerfully struck with Mrs. Arlbery, was enchanted to find her thus active in benevolence.
Edgar was to dine with that lady the next day, and to learn the event of their joint exertions.
This proved all that could be wished. The prosecution had been mild: the judge and jury had been touched with compassion; and the venial offender had been released with a gentle reprimand.
Mandlebert returned to communicate these tidings to Camilla, with a pleasure exactly in unison with her own. Mrs. Arlbery, he avowed, had been as zealous as himself; and had manifested a charity of disposition which the flightiness of her manners had not let him to expect.
The next object of attention was the raffle, which was to take place the following morning.
Sir Hugh was averse to letting his nieces go abroad again so soon: but Miss Margland, extremely anxious about her own chance for the prize, solemnly asserted its necessity; inveighed against the mismanagement of everything at Cleves, stifled all her complaints of Lionel, and pronounced a positive decision, that, to carry Indiana to public places, was the sole method of promoting the match.
Sir Hugh then, willing to believe, and yet more willing to get rid of disputing with her, no longer withheld his consent.
They were advanced within half a mile of Northwick, when a sick man, painfully supported by a woman with a child in her arms, caught their eyes. The ready hand of Eugenia was immediately in her pocket; Camilla, looking more intently upon the group, perceived another child, and presently recognised the wife of the prisoner. She called to the coachman to stop, and Edgar, at the same moment, rode up to the carriage.
Miss Margland angrily ordered the man to drive on, saying, she was quite sick of being thus for ever infested with beggars; who really came so often, they were no better than pick-pockets.
‘O don’t refuse to let me speak to them!’ cried Camilla; ‘it will be such a pleasure to see their joy!’
‘O yes! they look in much joy indeed! they seem as if they had not eat a morsel these three weeks! Drive on, I say, coachman! I like no such melancholy sights, for my part. They always make me ill. I wonder how any body can bear them.’
‘But we may help them; we may assist thern!’ said Camilla, with increasing earnestness.
‘And pray, when they have got all our money, who is to help us?’
Eugenia, delighted to give, but unhabituated to any other exertion, flung half a crown to them; and Indiana, begging to look out, said, ‘Dear! I never saw a prisoner before!’
Encouraged by an expressive look from Camilla, Edgar dismounted to hand her from the carriage, affecting not to hear the remonstrances of Miss Margland, though she scrupled not to deliver them very audibly. Eugenia languished to join them, but could not venture to disobey a direct command; and Indiana, observing the road to be very dusty, submitted, to save a pair of beautiful new shoes.
Camilla had all the gratification she promised herself, in witnessing the happiness of the poor petitioner. He was crawling to Cleves, with his family, to offer thanks. They were penniless, sick, and wretched; yet the preservation of the poor man seemed to make misery light to them all.
Edgar desired to know what were their designs for the future. The man answered that he should not dare go back to his own country, because there his disgrace was known, and he should procure no work; nor, indeed, was he now able to do any. ‘So we must make up our minds to beg from door to door, and in the streets, and on the high road,’ he continued; ‘till I get back a little strength; and can earn a living more creditably.’
‘But as long as we have kept you alive, and saved you from being transported,’ said his wife, ‘for which all thanks be due to this good gentleman, we shall mind no hardships, and never go astray again, in wicked unthinkingness of this great mercy.’
Edgar inquired what had been their former occupations; they answered, they had both been day-workers in the field, till a fit of sickness had hindered the poor man from getting his livelihood: penury and hunger then pressing hard upon them all, he had been tempted to commit the offence for which he was taken, and brought to death’s door. ‘But as now,’ he added, ‘I have been saved, I shall make it a warning for the time to come, and never give myself up to so bad a course again.’
Edgar asked the woman what money she had left.
‘Ah, sir, none! for we had things to pay, and people to satisfy, and so everything you and the good ladies gave us, is all gone; for, while anything was left us, they would not be easy. But this is no great mischief now, as my husband is not taken away from us, and is come to a right sense.’
‘I believe,’ said Edgar, ‘you are very good sort of people, however distress had misguided you.’
He then put something into the man’s hand, and Eugenia, who from the carriage window heard what passed, flung him another half crown; Camilla added a shilling, and turning suddenly away, walked a few paces from them all.
Edgar, gently following, inquired if anything was the matter; her eyes were full of tears: ‘I was thinking,’ she cried, ‘what my dear father would have said, had he seen me giving half a guinea for a toy, and a shilling to such poor starving people as these!’
‘Why, what would he have said?’ cried Edgar, charmed with her penitence, though joining in the apprehended censure.
‘He would more than ever have pitied those who want money, in seeing it so squandered by one who should better have remembered his lessons! O, if I could but recover that half guinea!’
‘Will you give me leave to get it back for you?’
‘Leave? you would lay me under the greatest obligation! How far half a guinea would go here, in poverty such as this!’
He assured her he could regain it without difficulty; and then, telling the poor people to postpone their walk to Cleves till the evening, when Camilla meant to prepare her uncle, also, to assist them, he handed her to the coach, with feelings yet more pleased than her own, and galloped forward to execute his commission.
He was ready at the door of the library to receive them. As they alighted, Camilla eagerly cried: ‘Well! have you succeeded?’
‘Can you trust yourself to this spot, and to a review of the allurement,’ answered he, smiling, and holding half a guinea between his fingers, ‘yet be content to see your chance for the prize withdrawn?’
‘O give it me! give it me!’ cried she, almost seizing it from him, ‘my dear father will be so glad to hear I have not spent it so foolishly.’
The rafflers were not yet assembled; no one was in the shop but a well dressed elegant young man, who was reading at a table, and who neither raised his eyes at their entrance, nor suffered their discourse to interrupt his attention; yet though abstracted from outward objects, his studiousness was not of a solemn cast; he seemed wrapt in what he was reading with a pleasure amounting to ecstasy. He started, acted, smiled, and looked pensive in turn, while his features were thrown into a thousand different expressions, and his person was almost writhed with perpetually varying gestures. From time to time his rapture broke forth into loud exclamations of ‘Exquisite! exquisite!’ while he beat the leaves of the book violently with his hands, in token of applause, or lifting them up to his lips, almost devoured with kisses the passages that charmed him. Sometimes he read a few words aloud, calling out ‘Heavenly!’ and vehemently stamping his approbation with his feet; then suddenly shutting up the book, folded his arms, and casting his eyes towards the ceiling, uttered: ‘O too much! too much! there is no standing it!’ yet again, the next minute, opened it and resumed the lecture.
The youthful group was much diverted with this unintended exhibition. To Eugenia alone it did not appear ridiculous; she simply envied his transports, and only wished to discover by what book they were excited. Edgar and Camilla amused themselves with conjecturing various authors; Indiana and Miss Margland required no such aid to pass their time, while, with at least equal delight, they contemplated the hoped-for prize.
Lionel now bounced in: ‘Why what,’ cried he, ‘are you all doing in this musty old shop, when Mrs. Arlbery and all the world are enjoying the air on the public walks?’
Camilla was instantly for joining that lady; but Eugenia felt an unconquerable curiosity to learn the running title of the book. She stole softly round to look over the shoulder of the reader, and her respect for his raptures increased, when she saw they were raised by Thomson’s Seasons.
Neither this approach, nor the loud call of Lionel, had interrupted the attention of the young student, who perceived and regarded nothing but what he was about; and though occasionally he ceased reading to indulge in passionate ejaculations, he seemed to hold everything else beneath his consideration.
Lionel, drawn to observe him from the circuit made by Eugenia, exclaimed: ‘What, Melmond! why, how long have you been in Hampshire?’
The youth, surprised from his absence of mind by the sound of his own name, looked up and said: ‘Who’s that?’
‘Why, when the deuce did you come into this part of the world?’ cried Lionel, approaching him to shake hands.
‘O! for pity’s sake,’ answered he, with energy, ‘don’t interrupt me!’
‘Why not? have not you enough of that dry work at Oxford? Come, come, have done with this boyish stuff, and behave like a man.’
‘You distract me,’ answered Melmond, motioning him away; ‘I am in a scene that entrances me to Elysium! I have never read it since I could appreciate it.’
‘What! old Thomson?’ said Lionel, peeping over him; ‘why, I never read him at all. Come, man! (giving him a slap on the shoulder) come along with me, and I’ll shew you something more worth looking at.’
‘You will drive me mad, if you break in upon this episode! ’tis a picture of all that is divine upon earth! hear it, only hear it!’
He then began the truly elegant and feeling description that concludes Thomson’s Spring; and though Lionel, with a loud shout, cried: ‘Do you think I come hither for such fogrum stuff as that?’ and ran out of the shop; the ‘wrapt enthusiast’ continued reading aloud, too much delighted with the pathos of his own voice in expressing the sentiments of the poet, to deny himself a regale so soothing to his ears.
Eugenia, enchanted, stood on tiptoe to hear him, her uplifted finger petitioning silence all around, and her heart fondly repeating, O just such a youth be Clermont! just such his passion for reading! just such his fervour for poetry! just such his exaltation of delight in literary yet domestic felicity!
Mandlebert, also, caught by the rehearsal of his favourite picture of a scheme of human happiness, which no time, no repetition can make vapid to a feeling heart, stood pleased and attentive to hear him; even Indiana, though she listened not to the matter, was struck by the manner in which it was delivered, which so resembled dramatic recitation, that she thought herself at a play, and full of wonder, advanced straight before him, to look full in his face, and watch the motions of his right arm, with which he acted incessantly, while the left held his book. Miss Margland concluded he was a strolling player, and did not suffer him to draw her eyes from the locket. But when, at the words
Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books,
Ease and alternate labour, useful life,
Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven,
Mandlebert turned softly round to read their impression on the countenance of Camilla — she was gone!
Attracted by her wish to see more of Mrs. Arlbery, she had run out of the shop after Lionel, before she either knew what was reading, or was missed by those the reader had engaged. Edgar, though disappointed, wondered he should have stayed himself to listen to what had long been familiar to him, and was quietly gliding away when he saw her returning. He then went back to his post, wondering, with still less satisfaction, how she could absent herself from hearing what so well was worth her studying.
The young man, when he came to the concluding line:
To scenes where love and bliss immortal reign!
rose, let fall the book, clasped his hands with a theatrical air, and was casting his eyes upwards in a fervent and willing trance, when he perceived Indiana standing immediately before him.
Surprised and ashamed, his sublimity suddenly forsook him; his arms dropt, and his hands were slipt into his waistcoat pockets.
But, the very next moment, the sensation of shame and of self was superseded by the fair object that had thus aroused him. Her beauty, her youth, her attitude of examination, struck him at first with an amazement that presently gave place to an admiration as violent as it was sudden. He started back, bowed profoundly, without any pretence for bowing at all, and then rivetting his eyes, in which his whole soul seemed centred, on her lovely face, stood viewing her with a look of homage, motionless, yet enraptured.
Indiana, still conceiving this to be some sort of acting, unabashed kept her post, expecting every moment he would begin spouting something more. But the enthusiasm of the young Oxonian had changed its object; the charms of poetry yielded to the superior charms of beauty, and while he gazed on the fair Indiana, his fervent mind fancied her some being of celestial order, wonderfully accorded to his view: How, or for what purpose, he as little knew as cared. The play of imagination, in the romance of early youth, is rarely interrupted with scruples of probability.
This scene of dumb transport and unfixed expectation, was broken up neither by the admirer nor the admired, but by the entrance of Mrs. Arlbery, Sir Sedley Clarendel, Lionel, the officers, and many of the rest of the company that had been present at the public breakfast: Nor would even this intrusion have disengaged the young Oxonian from his devout and ecstatic adoration, had it been equally indifferent to Indiana; but the appearance of a party of gay officers was not, to her, a matter of little moment. Eager for the notice in which she delighted, she looked round in full confidence of receiving it. The rapture of the Oxonian, as she had seen it kindled while he was reading, she attributed to something she did not understand, and took in it, therefore, no part; but the adulation of the officers was by no means ambiguous, and its acceptance was as obvious as its presentation.
Willingly, therefore, as well as immediately encompassed, she received a thousand compliments, and in the gratification of hearing them, completely forgot her late short surprise; but the Oxonian, more forcibly struck, ardently followed her with his eyes, started back theatrically at every change of attitude, which displayed her fine figure, and at her smiles smiled again, from the uncontrollable sympathy of a fascinated imagination.
Miss Margland felt not small pride in seeing her pupil thus distinguished, since it marked the shrewdness of her capacity in foretelling the effect of bringing her forth. Anxious to share in a consequence to which she had industriously contributed, she paradingly forced her way through the group, and calling the attention of Indiana to herself, said: ‘I am glad you came away, my dear; for I am sure that man is only a poor strolling player.’
‘Dear! let me look at him again!’ cried Indiana; ‘for I never saw a player before; only at a play.’
She then turned back to examine him.
Enchanted to again meet her eyes, the youth bowed with intense respect, and advanced a few paces, as if with intention to speak to her, though immediately and with still more precipitance he retreated, from being ready with nothing to say.
Lionel, going up to him, and pulling him by the arm, cried: ‘Why, man! what’s come to you? These are worse heroics than I have seen you in yet.’
The bright eyes of Indiana being still fixed upon him, he disdained all notice of Lionel, beyond a silent repulse.
Indiana, having now satisfied her curiosity, restored her attention to the beaux that surrounded her. The Oxonian, half sighing, unfolded his clasped hands, one of which he reposed upon the shoulder of Lionel.
‘Come, prithee, be a little less in alt,’ cried Lionel, ‘and answer a man when he speaks to you. Where did you leave Smythson?’
‘Who is that divinity; can you tell me?’ said the Oxonian in a low and respectful tone of inquiry.
‘What divinity? insensible Tyrold! tasteless! adamantine! Look, look yonder, and ask me again if you can!’
‘O what; my cousin Indiana?’
‘Your cousin? have you any affinity with such a creature as that? O Tyrold! I glory in your acquaintance! she is all I ever read of! all I ever conceived! she is beauty in its very essence! she is elegance, delicacy, and sensibility personified!’
‘All very true,’ said Lionel; ‘but how should you know anything of her besides her beauty?’
‘How? by looking at her! Can you view that countenance and ask me how? Are not those eyes all soul? Does not that mouth promise every thing that is intelligent? Can those lips ever move but to diffuse sweetness and smiles? I must not look at her again! another glance may set me raving!’
‘May?’ cried Lionel, laughing; ‘why what have you been doing all this time? However, be a little less in the sublime, and I’ll introduce you to her.’
‘Is it possible? shall I owe to you so celestial a happiness? O Tyrold! you bind me to you for life!’
Lionel, heartily hallowing, then brought him forward to Indiana: ‘Miss Lynmere,’ he cried, ‘a fellow student of mine, though somewhat more given to study than your poor cousin, most humbly begs the honour of kissing your toe.’
The uncommon lowness of the bow which the Oxonian, ignorant of what Lionel would say, was making, led Miss Margland to imagine he was really going to perform that popish ceremony; and hastily pulling Lionel by the sleeve, she angrily said: ‘Mr. Lionel, I desire to know by whose authority you present such actor-men to a young lady under my care.’
Lionel, almost in convulsions, repeated this aloud; and the young student, who had just, in a voice of the deepest interest and respect, begun, ‘The high honour, madam;’ hearing an universal laugh from the company, stopt short, utterly disconcerted, and after a few vainly stammering attempts, bowed again, and was silent.
Edgar, who in this distress, read an ingenuousness of nature that counterpoised its romantic enthusiasm, felt for the young man, and taking Lionel by the arm, said: ‘Will you not introduce me also to your friend?’
‘Mr. Melmond of Brazen Nose! Mr. Mandlebert of Beech Park!’ cried Lionel, flourishing, and bowing from one to the other.
Edgar shook hands with the youth, and hoped they should be better acquainted.
Camilla, gliding round, whispered him: ‘How like my dear father was that! to give relief to embarrassment, instead of joining in the laugh which excites it!’
Edgar, touched by a comparison to the person he most honoured, gratefully looked his acknowledgment; and all displeasure at her flight, even from Thomson’s scene of conjugal felicity, was erased from his mind.
The company grew impatient for the raffle, though some of the subscribers were not arrived. It was voted, at the proposition of Mrs. Arlbery, that the master of the shop should represent, as their turns came round, those who were absent.
While this was settling, Edgar, in some confusion, drew Camilla to the door, saying: ‘To avoid any perplexity about your throwing, suppose you step into the haberdasher’s shop that is over the way?’
Camilla, who already had felt very awkward with respect to her withdrawn subscription, gladly agreed to the proposal, and begging him to explain the matter to Miss Margland, tript across the street, while the rafflers were crowding to the point of action.
Here she sat, making some small purchases, till the business was over: The whole party then came forth into the street, and all in a body poured into the haberdasher’s shop, smiling, bowing, and of one accord wishing her joy.
Concluding this to be in derision of her desertion, she rallied as well as she was able; but Mrs. Arlbery, who entered the last, and held the locket in her hand, said: ‘Miss Tyrold, I heartily wish you equally brilliant success, in the next, and far more dangerous lottery, in which, I presume, you will try your fate.’ And presented her the prize.
Camilla, colouring, laughing, and unwillingly taking it, said: ‘I suppose, ma’am — I hope — it is yours?’ And she looked about for Edgar to assist her; but, he was gone to hasten the carriage.
Every body crowded round her to take a last sight of the beautiful locket. Eager to get rid of it, she put it into the hands of Indiana, who regarded it with a partiality which her numerous admirers had courted, individually, in vain; though the young Oxonian, by his dramatic emotions, had engaged more of her attention than she had yet bestowed elsewhere. Eugenia too, caught by his eccentricity, was powerfully impelled to watch and admire him; and not the less, in the unenvying innocency of her heart, for his evident predilection in favour of her cousin. This youth was not, however, suffered to engross her; the stranger by whom she had already been distinguished at the ball and public breakfast, was one in the group, and resumed a claim upon her notice, too flattering in its manner to be repulsed, and too new to her extreme inexperience to be obtrusive.
Meanwhile, Camilla gathered from Major Cerwood, that the prize had really fallen to her lot. Edgar had excused her not staying to throw for herself, but the general proxy, the bookseller, had been successful in her name.
In great perplexity how to account for this incident, she apprehended Edgar had made some mistake, and determined, through his means, to restore the locket to the subscription.
The carriage of Mrs. Arlbery was first ready; but, pushing away the throng of beaux offering assistance, she went up to Camilla, and said: ‘Fair object of the spleen of all around, will you bring a little of your influence with good fortune to my domain, and come and dine with me?’
Delighted at the proposal, Camilla looked at Miss Margland; but Miss Margland, not being included in the invitation, frowned a refusal.
Edgar now entered and announced the coach of Sir Hugh.
‘Make use of it as you can,’ said Mrs. Arlbery; ‘there is room for one more to go back than it brought; so pray do the honours prettily. Clarendel! take care of Miss Tyrold to my coach.’
Sir Sedley smiled, and played with his watch chain, but did not move.
‘O you laziest of all lazy wretches!’ cried Mrs. Arlbery.
‘I shall reverse the epithet, and be the alertest of the alert,’ said Major Cerwood; ‘if the commission may be devolved to myself.’
‘Positively not for the world! there is nothing so pleasant as working the indolent; except, indeed, making the restless keep quiet; so, come forth, Clarendel! be civil, and strike us all with astonishment!’
‘My adored Mrs. Arlbery!’ cried he, (hoisting himself upon the shop counter, and swinging a switch to and fro, with a languid motion) ‘your maxims are all of the first superlative, except this; but nobody’s civil now, you know; ’tis a fogramity quite out.’
‘So you absolutely won’t stir, then?’
‘O pray! pray!’ answered he, putting on his hat and folding his arms, ‘a little mercy! ’tis so vastly insufferably hot! Calcutta must be in the frigid zone to this shop! a very ice-house!’
Camilla, who never imagined rudeness could make a feature of affectation, internally attributed this refusal to his pique that she had disregarded him at the public breakfast, and would have made him some apology, but knew not in what manner to word it.
The Major again came forward, but Miss Margland, advancing also, said: ‘Miss Camilla! you won’t think of dining out unknown to Sir Hugh?’
‘I am sure,’ cried Mrs. Arlbery, ‘you will have the goodness to speak for me to Sir Hugh.’ Then, turning to Lionel, ‘Mr. Tyrold,’ she added, ‘you must go with us, that you may conduct your sister safe home. Don’t be affronted; I shall invite you for your own sake another time. Come, you abominable Clarendel! awake! and give a little spring to our motions.’
‘You are most incommodiously cruel!’ answered he; ‘but I am bound to be your slave.’ Then calling to one of the apprentices in the shop: ‘My vastly good boy,’ he cried, ‘do you want to see me irrecoverably subdued by this immensely inhuman heat?’
The boy stared; and said, ‘Sir.’
‘If not, do get me a glass of water.’
‘O worse and worse!’ said Mrs. Arlbery; ‘your whims are insupportable. I give you up! Major! advance.’
The Major, with alacrity, offered his hand; Camilla hesitated; she wished passionately to go, yet felt she had no authority for such a measure. The name, though not the person of Mrs. Arlbery, was known both at Cleves and at Etherington, as belonging to the owner of a capital house in the neighbourhood; and though the invitation was without form, Camilla was too young to be withheld by ceremony. Her uncle, she was sure, could refuse her nothing; and she thought, as she was only a visitor at Cleves, Miss Margland had no right to control her; the pleasure, therefore, of the scheme, soon conquered every smaller difficulty, and, looking away from her party, she suffered herself to be led to the coach.
Miss Margland as she passed, said aloud: ‘Remember! I give no consent to this!’
But Eugenia, on the other side, whispered: ‘Don’t be uneasy; I will explain to my uncle how it all happened.’
Mrs. Arlbery was following, when Indiana exclaimed: ‘Cousin Camilla, what am I to do with your locket?’
Camilla had wholly forgotten it; she called to Edgar, who slowly, and with a seriousness very unusual, obeyed her summons.
‘There has been some great mistake,’ said she, ‘about the locket. I suppose they neglected to scratch out my name from the subscription; for Major Cerwood says it really came to me. Will you be so good as to return it to the bookseller?’
The gravity of Edgar immediately vanished: ‘Are you so ready,’ he said, ‘even when it is in your possession, to part with so pretty a trinket?’
‘You know it cannot be mine, for here is my half guinea.’
Mrs. Arlbery then got into the coach; but Camilla, still farther recollecting herself, again called to Edgar, and holding out the half guinea, said: ‘How shall I get this to the poor people?’
‘They were to come,’ he answered, ‘to Cleves this afternoon.’
‘Will you, then, give it them for me?’
‘No commission to Mr. Mandlebert!’ interrupted Mrs. Arlbery; ‘for he must positively dine with us.’
Mandlebert bowed a pleased assent, and Camilla applied to Eugenia; but Miss Margland, in deep wrath, refused to let her move a step.
Mrs. Arlbery then ordered the coach to drive home. Camilla, begging a moment’s delay, desired Edgar to approach nearer, and said, in a low voice: ‘I cannot bear to let those poor expectants toil so far for nothing. I will sooner go back to Cleves myself. I shall not sleep all night if I disappoint them. Pray, invent some excuse for me.’
‘If you have set your heart upon this visit,’ answered Mandlebert, with vivacity, though in a whisper, ‘I will ride over myself to Cleves, and arrange all to your wishes; but if not, certainly there can need no invention, to decline an invitation of which Sir Hugh has no knowledge.’
Camilla, who at the beginning of this speech felt the highest glee, sunk involuntarily at its conclusion, and turning with a blank countenance to Mrs. Arlbery, stammeringly said: ‘Can you, will you — be so very good, as not to take it ill if I don’t go with you?’
Mrs. Arlbery, surprised, very coldly answered: ‘Certainly not! I would be no restraint upon you. I hate restraint myself.’ She then ordered the footman to open the door; and Camilla, too much abashed to offer any apology, was handed out by Edgar.
‘Amiable Camilla!’ said he, in conducting her back to Miss Margland, ‘this is a self-conquest that I alone, perhaps, expected from you!’
Cheared by such approbation, she forgot her disappointment, and regardless of Miss Margland and her ill humour, jumped into her uncle’s coach, and was the gayest of the party that returned to Cleves.
Edgar took the locket from Indiana, and promised to rectify the mistake; and then, lest Mrs. Arlbery should be offended with them all, rode to her house without any fresh invitation, accompanied by Lionel; whose anger against Camilla, for suffering Miss Margland to gain a victory, was his theme the whole ride.
THE first care of Camilla was to interest Sir Hugh in the misfortunes of the prisoner and his family; her next, to relate the invitation of Mrs. Arlbery, and to beg permission that she might wait upon the lady the next morning, with apologies for her abrupt retreat, and with acknowledgments for the services done to the poor woman; which first the Oxonian, and then the raffle, had driven from her mind. Sir Hugh readily consented, blaming her for supposing it possible he could ever hesitate in what could give her any pleasure.
Before the tea-party broke up, Edgar returned. He told Camilla he had stolen away the instant the dinner was over, to avoid any mistake about the poor people, whom he had just overtaken by the park-gate, and conducted to the great barn, where he had directed them to wait for orders.
‘I’ll run to them immediately,’ cried she, ‘for my half guinea is in an agony to be gone!’
‘The barn! my dear young Mr. Mandlebert!’ exclaimed Sir Hugh; ‘and why did you not bring them to the servants’ hall? My little girl has been telling me all their history; and, God forbid, I should turn hard-hearted, because of their wanting a leg of mutton, in preference to being starved; though they might have no great right to it, according to the forms of law; which, however, is not much impediment to the calls of nature, when a man sees a butcher’s stall well covered, and has got nothing within him, except his own poor craving appetite; which is a thing I always take into consideration; though, God forbid, I should protect a thief, no man’s property being another’s, whether he’s poor or rich.’
He then gave Camilla three guineas to deliver to them from himself, to set them a little a-going in an honest way, that they might not, he said, repent leaving off bad actions. Her joy was so excessive, that she passionately embraced his knees: and Edgar, while he looked on, could nearly have bent to her his own, with admiration of her generous nature. Eugenia desired to accompany her; and Indiana, rising also, said: ‘Dear! I wonder how they will look in the barn! I should like to see them too.’
Miss Margland made no opposition, and they set out.
Camilla, leading the way, with a fleetness that mocked all equality, ran into the barn, and saw the whole party, according to their several powers, enjoying themselves. The poor man, stretched upon straw, was resting his aching limbs; his wife, by his side, was giving nourishment to her baby; and the other child, a little boy of three years old, was jumping and turning head over heels, with the true glee of unspoilt nature, superior to poverty and distress.
To the gay heart of Camilla whatever was sportive was attractive; she flew to the little fellow, whose skin was clean and bright, in the midst of his rags and wretchedness, and, making herself his play-mate, bid the woman finish feeding her child, told the man to repose himself undisturbed, and began dancing with the little boy, not less delighted than himself at the festive exercise.
Miss Margland cast up her hands and eyes as she entered, and poured forth a warm remonstrance against so demeaning a condescension: but Camilla, in whose composition pride had no share, though spirit was a principal ingredient, danced on unheeding, to the equal amaze and enchantment of the poor man and woman, at the honour done to their little son.
Edgar came in last; he had given his arm to Eugenia, who was always in the rear if unassisted. Miss Margland appealed to him upon the impropriety of the behaviour of Camilla, adding, ‘If I had had the bringing up a young lady who could so degrade herself, I protest I should blush to shew my face: but you cannot, I am sure, fail remarking the difference of Miss Lynmere’s conduct.’
Edgar attended with an air of complacency, which he thought due to the situation of Miss Margland in the family, yet kept his eyes fixt upon Camilla, with an expression that, to the least discernment, would have evinced his utmost approbation of her his innocent gaiety: but Miss Margland was amongst that numerous tribe, who, content as well as occupied with making observations upon others, have neither the power, nor thought, of developing those that are returned upon themselves.
Camilla at length, wholly out of breath, gave over; but perceiving that the baby was no longer at its mother’s breast, flew to the poor woman, and, taking the child in her arms, said: ‘Come, I can nurse and rest at the same time; I assure you the baby will be safe with me, for I nurse all the children in our neighbourhood.’ She then fondled the poor little half-starved child to her bosom, quieting, and kissing, and cooing over it.
Miss Margland was still more incensed; but Edgar could attend to her no longer. Charmed with the youthful nurse, and seeing in her unaffected attitudes, a thousand graces he had never before remarked, and reading in her fondness for children the genuine sweetness of her character, he could not bear to have the pleasing reflections revolving in his mind interrupted by the spleen of Miss Margland, and, slipping away, posted himself behind the baby’s father, where he could look on undisturbed, certain it was a vicinity to which Miss Margland would not follow him.
Had this scene lasted till Camilla was tired, its period would not have been very short; but Miss Margland, finding her exhortations vain, suddenly called out: ‘Miss Lynmere! Miss Eugenia! come away directly! It’s ten to one but these people have all got the gaol distemper!’
Edgar, quick as lightning at this sound, flew to Camilla, and snatched the child from her arms. Indiana, with a scream, ran out of the barn; Miss Margland hurried after; and Eugenia, following, earnestly entreated Camilla not to stay another moment.
‘And what is there to be alarmed at?’ cried she; ‘I always nurse poor children when I see them at home; and my father never prohibits me.’
‘There may be some reason, however,’ said Edgar, while still he tenderly held the baby himself, ‘for the present apprehension: I beg you, therefore, to hasten away.’
‘At least,’ said she, ‘before I depart, let me execute my commission.’ And then, with the kindest good wishes for their better fortune, she put her uncle’s three guineas into the hands of the poor man, and her own rescued half guinea into those of his wife; and, desiring Edgar not to remain himself where he would not suffer her to stay, ran to give her arm to Eugenia; leaving it a doubtful point, whether the good humour accompanying her alms, made the most pleased impression upon their receivers, or upon their observer.
AT night, while they were enjoying the bright beams of the moon, from an apartment in the front of the house, they observed a strange footman, in a superb livery, ride towards the servants hall; and presently a letter was delivered to Miss Margland.
She opened it with an air of exulting consequence; one which was inclosed, she put into her pocket, and read the other three or four times over, with looks of importance and complacency. She then pompously demanded a private audience with Sir Hugh, and the young party left the room.
‘Well, sir!’ she cried, proudly, ‘you may now see if I judged right as to taking the young ladies a little into the world. Please to look at this letter, sir:’
To Miss Margland, at Sir Hugh Tyrold’s , Bart., Cleves, Hampshire.
WITH the most profound respect I presume to address you, though only upon the strength of that marked politeness which shines forth in your deportment. I have the highest ambition to offer a few lines to the perusal of Miss Eugenia Tyrold, previous to presenting myself to Sir Hugh. My reasons will be contained in the letter which I take the liberty to put into your hands. It is only under your protection, madam, I can aim at approaching that young lady, as all that I have either seen or heard convinces me of her extraordinary happiness in being under your direction. Your influence, madam, I should therefore esteem as an honour, and I leave it wholly to your own choice, whether to read what I have addressed to that young lady before or after she has deigned to cast an eye upon it herself. I remain, with the most profound respect,
your most obedient, and obliged servant,
I shall take the liberty to send my servant for an answer tomorrow evening.
‘This, sir,’ continued Miss Margland, when Sir Hugh had read the letter; ‘this is the exact conduct of a gentleman; all open, all respectful. No attempt at any clandestine intercourse. All is addressed where it ought to be, to the person most proper to superintend such an affair. This is that very same gentleman whose politeness I mentioned to you, and who danced with Miss Eugenia at Northwick, when nobody else took any notice of her. This is–’
‘Why then this is one of the most untoward things,’ cried Sir Hugh, who, vainly waiting for a pause, began to speak without one, ‘that has ever come to bear; for where’s the use of Eugenia’s making poor young fellows fall in love with her for nothing? which I hold to be a pity, provided it’s sincere, which I take for granted.’
‘As to that, sir, I can’t say I see the reason why Miss Eugenia should not be allowed to look about her, and have some choice; especially as the young gentleman abroad has no fortune; at least none answerable to her expectations.’
‘But that’s the very reason for my marrying them together. For as he has not had the small-pox himself, that is, not in the natural way; which, Lord help me! I thought the best, owing to my want of knowledge; why he’ll the more readily excuse her face not being one of the prettiest, for her kindness in putting up with his having so little money; being a thing some people think a good deal of.’
‘But, sir, won’t it be very hard upon poor Miss Eugenia, if a better offer should come, that she must not listen to it, only because of a person she has never seen, though he has no estate?’
‘Mrs. Margland,’ said Sir Hugh, (with some heat,) ‘this is the very thing that I would sooner have given a crown than have had happen! Who knows but Eugenia may take a fancy to this young jackanapes? who, for aught I know, may be as good a man as another, for which I beg his pardon; but, as he is nothing to me, and my nephew’s my nephew, why am I to have the best scheme I ever made knocked on the head, for a person I had as lieve were twitched into the Red Sea? which, however, is a thing I should not say, being what I would not do.’
Miss Margland took from her pocket the letter designed for Eugenia, and was going to break the seal; but Sir Hugh, preventing her, said: ‘No, Miss Margland; Eugenia shall read her own letters. I have not had her taught all this time, by one of the first scholars of the age, as far as I can tell, to put that affront upon her.’
He then rang the bell, and sent for Eugenia.
Miss Margland stated the utter impropriety of suffering any young lady to read a letter of that sort, till proposals had been laid before her parents and guardians. But Sir Hugh spoke no more till Eugenia appeared.
‘My dear,’ he then said, ‘here is a letter just come to put your education to the trial; which, I make no doubt, will stand the test properly: therefore, in regard to the answer, you shall write it all yourself, being qualified in a manner to which I have no right to pretend; though I shall go to-morrow to my brother, which will give me a better insight; his head being one of the best.’
Eugenia, greatly surprised, opened the letter, and read it with visible emotion.
‘Well, my dear, and what do you say to it?’
Without answering, she read it again.
Sir Hugh repeated the question.
‘Indeed, sir,’ said she, (in a tone of sadness,) ‘it is something that afflicts me very much!’
‘Lord help us!’ cried Sir Hugh, ‘this comes of going to a ball! which, begging Miss Margland’s pardon, is the last time it shall be done.’
Miss Margland was beginning a vehement defence of herself; but Sir Hugh interrupted it, by desiring to see the letter.
Eugenia, with increased confusion, folded it up, and said: ‘Indeed, sir–Indeed, uncle-it is a very improper letter for me to shew.’
‘Well, that,’ cried Miss Margland, ‘is a thing I could never have imagined! that a gentleman, who is so much the gentleman, should write an improper letter!’
‘No, no,’ interrupted she, ‘not improper-perhaps-for him to write,-but for me to exhibit.’
‘O, if that’s all, my dear ‘ said Sir Hugh ‘if it’s only because of a few compliments, I beg you not to mind them, because of their having no meaning; which is a thing common enough in the way of making love, by what I hear; though such a young thing as you can know nothing of the matter, your learning not going in that line; nor Dr. Orkborne’s neither, if one may judge; which, God forbid I should find fault with, being no business of mine.’
He then again asked to see the letter; and Eugenia, ashamed to refuse, gave it, and went out of the room.
To Miss Eugenia Tyrold, Cleves.
THE delicacy of your highly cultivated mind awes even the violent passion which you inspire. And to this I entreat you to attribute the trembling fear which deters me from the honour of waiting upon Sir Hugh, while uncertain, if my addressing him might not raise your displeasure. I forbear, therefore, to lay before him my pretensions for soliciting your favour, from the deepest apprehension you might think I presumed too far, upon an acquaintance, to my unhappiness, so short; yet, as I feel it to have excited in me the most lasting attachment, from my fixed admiration of your virtues and talents, I cannot endure to run the risk of incurring your aversion. Allow me then, once more, under the sanction of that excellent lady in whose care I have had the honour of seeing you, to entreat one moment’s audience, that I may be graced with your own commands about waiting upon Sir Hugh, without which, I should hold myself ungenerous and unworthy to approach him; since I should blush to throw myself at your feet from an authority which you do not permit. I beseech you, madam, to remember, that I shall be miserable till I know my doom; but still, that the heart, not the hand, can alone bestow happiness on a disinterested mind.
I have the honour to be,
your most devoted and obedient humble servant,
Sir Hugh, when he had finished the letter, heaved a sigh, and leant his head upon his hand, considering whether or not to let it be seen by Miss Margland; who, however, not feeling secure what his determination might be, had so contrived to sit at the table as to read it at the same time with himself. Nor had she weighed the interest of her curiosity amiss; Sir Hugh, dreading a debate with her, soon put the letter into his pocket-book, and again sent for Eugenia.
Eugenia excused herself from returning, pleaded a head-ache, and went to bed.
Sir Hugh was in the deepest alarm; though the evening was far advanced, he could scarce refrain from going to Etherington directly; he ordered his carriage to be at the door at eight o’clock the next morning; and sent a second order, a moment after, that it should not be later than half past seven.
He then summoned Camilla, and, giving her the letter, bid her run with it to her sister, for fear it was that she was fretting for. And soon after, he went to bed, that he might be ready in the morning.
Eugenia, meanwhile, felt the placid composure of her mind now for the first time shaken. The assiduities of this young man had already pleased and interested her; but, though gratified by them in his presence, they occurred to her no more in his absence. With the Oxonian she had been far more struck; his energy, his sentiments, his passion for literature, would instantly have riveted him in her fairest favour, had she not so completely regarded herself as the wife of Clermont Lynmere, that she denied her imagination any power over her reason.
This letter, however, filled her with sensations wholly new. She now first reflected seriously upon the nature of her situation with regard to Clermont, for whom she seemed bespoken by her uncle, without the smallest knowledge how they might approve or suit each other. Perhaps he might dislike her; she must then have the mortification of being refused: perhaps he might excite her own antipathy; she must then either disappoint her uncle, or become a miserable sacrifice.
Here, on the contrary, she conceived herself an elected object. The difference of being accepted, or being chosen, worked forcibly upon her mind; and, all that was delicate, feminine, or dignified in her notions, rose in favour of him who sought, when opposed to him who could only consent to receive her. Generous, too, he appeared to her, in forbearing to apply to Sir Hugh, without her permission; disinterested, in declaring he did not wish for her hand without her heart: and noble, in not seeking her in a clandestine manner, but referring every thing to Miss Margland.
The idea also of exciting an ardent passion, lost none of its force from its novelty to her expectations. It was not that she had hitherto supposed it impossible; she had done less; she had not thought of it all. Nor came it now with any triumph to her modest and unassuming mind; all it brought with it was gratitude towards Bellamy, and a something soothing towards herself, which, though inexplicable to her reason, was irresistible to her feelings.
When Camilla entered with the letter, she bashfully asked her, if she wished to read it? Camilla eagerly cried: ‘O, yes.’ But, having finished it, said: ‘It is not such a letter as Edgar Mandlebert would have written.’
‘I am sure, then,’ said Eugenia, colouring, ‘I am sorry to have received it.’
‘Do you not observe every day,’ said Camilla, ‘the distance, the delicacy of his behaviour to Indiana, though Miss Margland says their marriage is fixed; how free from all distinction that might confuse her? This declaration, on the contrary, is so abrupt-and from so new an acquaintance–’
‘Certainly, then, I won’t answer it,’ said Eugenia, much discomposed; ‘it had not struck me thus at first reading; but I see now all its impropriety.’
She then bid good night to Camilla; who, concluding her the appropriated wife of Clermont, had uttered her opinion without scruple.
Eugenia now again read the letter; but not again with pleasure. She thought it forward and presumptuous; and the only gratification that remained upon her mind, was an half conscious scarce admitted, and, even to herself, unacknowledged charm, in a belief, that she possessed the power to inspire an animated regard.
MR. and Mrs. Tyrold and Lavinia were at breakfast when Sir Hugh entered their parlour, the next morning. ‘Brother,’ he cried, ‘I have something of great importance to tell you, which it is very fit my sister should hear too; for which reason, I make no doubt but my dear Lavinia’s good sense will leave the room, without waiting for a hint.’
Lavinia instantly retired.
‘O, my dear brother,’ continued the baronet; ‘do you know here’s a young chap, who appears to be a rather good sort of man, which is so much the worse, who has been falling in love with Eugenia?’
He then delivered the two letters to Mr. Tyrold.
‘Now the only thing that hurts me in this business is, that this young man, who Miss Margland calls a person of fashion, writes as well as Clermont would do himself; though that is what I shall never own to Eugenia, which I hope is no sin being all for her own sake; that is to say, for Clermont’s .’
Mr. Tyrold, after attentively reading the letters, gave them to his wife, and made many inquiries concerning their writer, and his acquaintance with Eugenia and Miss Margland.
‘Why it was all brought about,’ said Sir Hugh, ‘by their going to a ball and a public breakfast; which is a thing my little Camilla is not at all to blame for, because if nobody had put it in her head, she would not have known there was a thing of the kind. And, indeed, it was but natural in poor Lionel neither, to set her agog, the chief fault lying in the assizes; to which my particular objection is against the lawyers, who come into a town to hang and transport the poor, by way of keeping the peace, and then encourage the rich to make all the noise and riot they can, by their own junkettings; for which, however, being generally, I believe, pretty good scholars, I make no doubt but they have their own reasons.’
‘I flatter myself,’ said Mrs. Tyrold, scarce deigning to finish the letters, ‘Eugenia, young as she is, will need no counsel how to estimate a writer such as this. What must the man be, who, presuming upon his personal influence, ventures to claim her concurrence in an application to her friends, though he has seen her but twice, and knows her to be destitute of the smallest knowledge of his principles, his character, or his situation in life?’
‘Good lack!’ cried the baronet, ‘what a prodigious poor head I must have! here I could hardly sleep all night, for thinking what a fine letter this jackanapes, which I shall make no more apology for calling him, had been writing, fearing it would cut up poor Clermont in her opinion, for all his grand tour.’
Perfectly restored to ease, he now bad them good morning; but Mr. Tyrold entreated him to stay till they had settled how to get rid of the business.
‘My dear brother,’ he answered, ‘I want no more help now, since I have got your opinion, that is, my sister’s, which I take it for granted is the same. I make no doubt but Eugenia will pretty near have writ her foul copy by the time I get home, which Dr. Orkborne may overlook for her, to the end that this Mr. Upstart may have no more fault to find against it.’
They both desired to dine at Cleves, that they might speak themselves with Eugenia.
‘And how,’ said Mr. Tyrold, with a strong secret emotion, ‘how goes on Edgar with Indiana?’
‘Vastly well, vastly well indeed! not that I pretend to speak for myself, being rather too dull in these matters, owing to never entering upon them in the right season, as I intend to tell other young men doing the same.’
He then, in warm terms, narrated the accounts given him by Miss Margland of the security of the conquest of Indiana.
Mr. Tyrold fixed his hour for expecting the carriage, and the baronet desired that Lavinia should be of the party; ‘because,’ he said, ‘I see she has the proper discretion, when she is wanted to go out of the way; which must be the same with Camilla and Indiana, too, to-day, as well as with young Mr. Edgar; for I don’t think it prudent to trust such new beginners with every thing that goes on, till they get a little older.’
The anxiety of Mr. Tyrold, concerning Bellamy, was now mingled with a cruel regret in relation to Mandlebert. Even his own upright conduct could scarce console him for the loss of his favourite hope, and he almost repented that he had not been more active in endeavouring to preserve it.
All that passed in his mind was read and participated in by his partner, whose displeasure was greater, though her mortification could but be equal. ‘That Edgar,’ said she, ‘should have kept his heart wholly untouched, would less have moved my wonder; he has a peculiar, though unconscious delicacy in his nature, which results not from insolence nor presumption, but from his own invariable and familiar exercise of every virtue and of every duty: the smallest deviation is offensive, and even the least inaccuracy is painful to him. Was it possible, then, to be prepared for such an election as this? He has disgraced my expectations; he has played the common part of a mere common young man, whose eye is his sole governor.’
‘My Georgiana,’ said Mr. Tyrold, ‘I am deeply disappointed. Our two eldest girls are but slightly provided for; and Eugenia is far more dangerously circumstanced, in standing so conspicuously apart, as a prize to some adventurer. One of these three precious cares I had fondly concluded certain of protection and happiness; for which ever I might have bestowed upon Edgar Mandlebert, I should have considered as the most fortunate of her sex. Let us, however, rejoice for Indiana; no one can more need a protector; and, next to my own three girls, there is no one for whom I am so much interested. I grieve, however, for Edgar himself, whose excellent judgment will, in time, assert its rights, though passion, at this period, has set it aside.’
‘I am too angry with him for pity,’ said Mrs. Tyrold; ‘nor is his understanding of a class that has any claim to such lenity: I had often thought our gentle Lavinia almost born to be his wife, and no one could more truly have deserved him. But the soft perfection of her character relieves me from any apprehension for her conduct, and almost all my solicitude devolves upon Camilla. For our poor Eugenia I had never indulged a hope of his choice; though that valuable, unfortunate girl, with every unearned defect about her, intrinsically merits him, with all his advantages, his accomplishments, and his virtues: but to appreciate her, uninfluenced by pecuniary views, to which he is every way superior, was too much to expect from so young a man. My wishes, therefore, had guided him to our Camilla, that sweet, open, generous, inconsiderate girl, whose feelings are all virtues, but whose impulses have no restraints: I have not a fear for her, when she can act with deliberation; but fear is almost all I have left, when I consider her as led by the start of the moment. With him, however, she would have been the safest, and with him-next alone to her mother, the happiest of her sex.’
The kindest acknowledgments repaid this sympathy of sentiment, and they agreed that their felicity would have been almost too complete for this lower world, if such an event had come to pass. ‘Nevertheless its failure,’ added Mrs. Tyrold, ‘is almost incredible, and wholly unpardonable. That Indiana should vanquish where Lavinia and Camilla have failed! I feel indignant at such a triumph of mere external unintelligent beauty.’
Eugenia received her parents with the most bashful confusion; yet they found, upon conversing with her, it was merely from youthful shame, and not from any dangerous prepossession. The observations of Camilla had broken that spell with which a first declaration of regard is apt to entangle unreflecting inexperience; and by teaching her to less value the votary, had made the conquest less an object of satisfaction. She was gratified by the permission of her uncle to write her own answer, which was now produced.
ToAlphonso Bellamy, Esq.
I AM highly sensible to the honour of your partiality, which I regret it is not possible for me to deserve. Be not, therefore, offended, and still less suffer yourself to be afflicted, when I confess I have only my poor thanks to offer, and poor esteem to return, for your unmerited goodness. Dwell not, sir, upon this disappointment, but receive my best wishes for your restored happiness; for never can I forget a distinction to which I have so little claim. Believe me,
Your very much obliged,
and most grateful humble servant,
Mr. Tyrold, who delighted to see how completely, in her studies with Dr. Orkborne, she had escaped any pedantry or affectation, and even preserved all the native humility of her artless character, returned her the letter with an affectionate embrace, and told her he could desire no alteration but that of omitting the word grateful at the conclusion.
Mrs. Tyrold was far less satisfied. She wished it to be completely re-written; protesting, that a man who, in all probability, was a mere fortune-hunter, would infer from so gentle a dismission encouragement rather than repulse.
Sir Hugh said there was one thing only he desired to have added, which was a hint of a pre-engagement with a relation of her own.
Eugenia, at this, coloured and retreated; and Mrs. Tyrold reminded the baronet, with some displeasure, of his promise to guard the secret of his project. Sir Hugh, a little disturbed, said it never broke out from him but by accident, which he would take care should never get the upper hand again. He would not, however, consent to have the letter altered, which he said would be an affront to the learning of Eugenia, unless it were done by Dr. Orkborne himself, who, being her master, had a right to correct her first penmanship.
Dr. Orkborne, being called upon, slightly glanced his eye over the letter, but made no emendation, saying: ‘I believe it will do very sufficiently; but I have only concerned myself with the progress of Miss Eugenia in the Greek and Latin languages; any body can teach her English.’
The fond parents finished their visit in full satisfaction with their irreproachable Eugenia, and with the joy of seeing their darling Camilla as happy and as disengaged as when she had left them; but Mandlebert had spent the day abroad, and escaped, therefore, the observations with which they had meant to have investigated his sentiments. Indiana, with whom they conversed more than usual, and with the most scrutinizing attention, offered nothing either in manner or matter to rescue his decision from their censure: Mrs. Tyrold, therefore, rejoiced at his absence, lest a coolness she knew not how to repress, should have led him to surmise her disappointment. Her husband besought her to be guarded: ‘We had no right,’ he said, ‘to the disposal of his heart; and Indiana, however he may find her inadequate to his future expectations, will not disgrace his present choice. She is beautiful, she is young, and she is innocent; this in early life is sufficient for felicity; and Edgar is yet too new in the world to be aware how much of life remains when youth is gone, and too unpractised to foresee, that beauty loses its power even before it loses its charms, and that the season of declining nature sighs deeply for the support which sympathy and intelligence can alone bestow.’
THE visit which Camilla had designed this morning to Mrs. Arlbery, she had been induced to relinquish through a speech made to her by Lionel. ‘You have done for yourself, now!’ said he, exultingly; ‘so you may be governed by that scare-crow, Miss Margland, at your leisure. Do you know you were not once mentioned again at the Grove, neither by Mrs. Arlbery nor any body else? and they all agreed Indiana was the finest girl in the world.’
Camilla, though of the same opinion with respect to Indiana, concluded Mrs. Arlbery was offended by her retreat, and lost all courage for offering any apology.
Edgar did not return to Cleves till some time after the departure of Mr. and Mrs. Tyrold, when he met Miss Margland and the young ladies strolling in the park.
Camilla, running to meet him, asked if he had restored the locket to the right owner.
‘No,’ answered he, smiling, ‘not yet.’
‘What can be done then? my half guinea is gone; and, to confess the truth, I have not another I can well spare!’
He made no immediate reply; but, after speaking to the rest of the party, walked on towards the house.
Camilla, in some perplexity, following him, exclaimed: ‘Pray tell me what I must do? indeed I am quite uneasy.’
‘You would really have me give the locket to its rightful proprietor?’
‘To be sure I would!’
‘My commission, then, is soon executed.’ And taking a little shagreen case from his waistcoat pocket, he put it into her hand.
‘What can you mean? is there still any mistake?’
‘None but what you may immediately rectify, by simply retaining your own prize.’
Camilla, opening the case, saw the locket, and perceived under the crystal a light knot of braided hair. But while she looked at it, he hurried into the house.
She ran after him, and insisted upon an explanation, declaring it to be utterly impossible that the locket and the half guinea should belong to the same person.
‘You must not then,’ he said, ‘be angry, if you find I have managed, at last, but aukwardly. When I came to the library, the master of the raffle told me it was against all rule to refund a subscription.’ He stopt.
‘The half guinea you put into my hand, then,’ cried she, colouring, ‘was your own?’
‘My dear Miss Camilla, there is no other occasion upon which I would have hazarded such a liberty; but as the money was for a charity, and as I had undertaken what I could not perform, I rather ventured to replace it, than suffer the poor objects for whom it was destined, to miss your kind intention.’
‘You have certainly done right,’ said she (feeling for her purse); ‘but you must not, for that reason, make me a second time do wrong.’
‘You will not so much hurt me?’ replied he, gravely; ‘you will not reprove me as if I were a stranger, a mere common acquaintance? Where could the money have been so well bestowed? It is not you, but those poor people who are in my debt. So many were the chances against your gaining the prize, that it was an event I had not even taken into consideration: I had merely induced you to leave the shop, that you might not have the surprise of finding your name was not withdrawn; the rest was accident; and surely you will not punish me that I have paid to the poor the penalty of my own ill weighed officiousness?’
Camilla put up her purse, but, with some spirit, said: ‘There is another way to settle the matter which cannot hurt you; if I do not pay you my half guinea, you must at least keep the fruits of your own.’ And she returned him the locket.
‘And what,’ cried he, laughing ‘must I do with it? would you have me wear it myself?’
‘Give it,’ answered she, innocently, ‘to Indiana.’
‘No;’ replied he, (reddening and putting it down upon a table,) ‘but you may, if you believe her value will be greater than your own for the hair of your two sisters.’
Camilla, surprised, again looked at it, and recognized the hair of Lavinia and Eugenia.
‘And how in the world did you get this hair?’
‘I told them both the accident that had happened, and begged them to contribute their assistance to obtain your pardon.’
‘Is it possible,’ cried she, with vivacity, ‘you could add to all your trouble so kind a thought?’ and, without a moment’s further hesitation, she accepted the prize, returning him the most animated thanks, and flying to Eugenia to inquire further into the matter, and then to her uncle, to shew him her new acquisition.
Sir Hugh, like herself, immediately said: ‘But why did he not give it to Indiana?’
‘I suppose,’ said Eugenia, ‘because Camilla had herself drawn the prize, and he had only added our hair to it.’
This perfectly satisfied the baronet; but Indiana could by no means understand why it had not been managed better; and Miss Margland, with much ill will, nourished a private opinion that the prize might perhaps have been her own, had not Mandlebert interfered. However, as there seemed some collusion which she could not develope, her conscience wholly acquitted her of any necessity to refund her borrowed half guinea.
Camilla, meanwhile, decorated herself with the locket, and had nothing in her possession which gave her equal delight.
Miss Margland now became, internally, less sanguine, with regard to the preference of Edgar for Indiana; but she concealed from Sir Hugh a doubt so unpleasant, through an unconquerable repugnance to acknowledge it possible she could have formed a wrong judgment.
UPON the ensuing Sunday, Edgar proposed that a party should be made to visit a new little cottage, which he had just fitted up. This was agreed to; and as it was not above a mile from the parish church, Sir Hugh ordered that his low garden phaeton should be in readiness, after the service, to convey himself and Eugenia thither. The rest, as the weather was fine, desired to walk.
They went to the church, as usual, in a coach and a chaise, which were dismissed as soon as they alighted: but before that period, Eugenia, with a sigh, had observed, that Melmond, the young Oxonian, was strolling the same way, and had seen, with a blush, that Bellamy was by his side.
The two gentlemen recognised them as they were crossing the church-yard. The Oxonian bowed profoundly, but stood aloof: Bellamy bowed also, but immediately approached; and as Sir Hugh, at that moment, accidentally let fall his stick, darted forward to recover and present it him.
The baronet, from surprise at his quick motion, dropt his handkerchief in receiving his cane; this also Bellamy, attentively shaking, restored to him: and Sir Hugh, who could accept no civility unrequited, said: ‘Sir, if you are a stranger, as I imagine not knowing your face, you are welcome to a place in my pew provided you don’t get a seat in a better; which I’m pretty much afraid you can’t, mine being the best.’
The invitation was promptly accepted.
Miss Margland, always happy to be of consequence, was hastening to Sir Hugh, to put him upon his guard; when a respectful offer from Bellamy to assist her down the steps, induced her to remit her design to a future opportunity. Any attentions from a young man were now so new to her as to seem a call upon her gratitude; nor had her charms ever been so attractive as to render them common.
Edgar and Indiana, knowing nothing of his late declaration thought nothing of his present admission; to Dr. Orkborne he was an utter stranger; but Camilla had recourse to her fan to conceal a smile; and Eugenia was in the utmost confusion. She felt at a loss how to meet his eyes, and seated herself as much as possible out of his way.
A few minutes after, looking up towards the gallery, she perceived, in one of the furthest rows, young Melmond; his eye fixt upon their pew, but withdrawn the instant he was observed and his air the most melancholy and dejected.
Again a half sigh escaped the tender Eugenia. How delicate, how elegant, thought she, is this retired behaviour! what refinement results from a true literary taste! O such be Clermont! if he resemble not this Oxonian–I must be wretched for life!
These ideas, which unavoidably, though unwillingly, interrupted her devotion, were again broken in upon, when the service was nearly over, by the appearance of Lionel. He had ridden five miles to join them, merely not to be thought in leading-strings, by staying at Etherington to hear his father; though the name and the excellence of the preaching of Mr. Tyrold, attracted to his church all strangers who had power to reach it:-so vehement in early youth is the eagerness to appear independant, and so general is the belief that all merit must be sought from a distance.
The deeper understanding of Mandlebert rendered him superior to this common puerility: and, though the preacher at Cleves church was his own tutor, Dr. Marchmont, from whom he was scarce yet emancipated, he listened to him with reverence, and would have travelled any distance, and taken cheerfully any trouble, that would in the best and strongest manner have marked the respect with which he attended to his doctrine.
Dr. Marchmont was a man of the highest intellectual accomplishments, uniting deep learning with general knowledge, and the graceful exterior of a man of the world, with the erudition and science of a fellow of a college. He obtained the esteem of the scholar wherever he was known, and caught the approbation of the most uncultivated wherever he was seen.
When the service was over, Edgar proposed that Dr. Marchmont should join the party to the cottage. Sir Hugh was most willing, and they sauntered about the church, while the Doctor retired to the vestry to take off his gown.
During this interval, Eugenia, who had a passion for reading epitaphs and inscriptions, became so intently engaged in decyphering some old verses on an antique tablet, that she perceived not when Dr. Marchmont was ready, nor when the party was leaving the church: and before any of the rest missed her, Bellamy suddenly took the opportunity of her being out of sight of all others, to drop on one knee, and passionately seize her hand, exclaiming: ‘O madam!–’ When hearing an approaching step, he hastily arose; but parted not with her hand till he had pressed it to his lips.
The astonished Eugenia, though at first all emotion, was completely recovered by this action. His kneeling and his ‘O madam!’ had every chance to affect her; but his kissing her hand she thought a liberty the most unpardonable. She resented it as an injury to Clermont, that would risk his life should he ever know it, and a blot to her own delicacy, as irreparable as it was irremediable.
Bellamy, who, from her letter, had augured nothing of hardness of heart, tenderly solicited her forgiveness; but she made him no answer; silent and offended she walked away, and, losing her timidity in her displeasure, went up to her uncle, and whispered: ‘Sir, the gentleman you invited into your pew, is Mr. Bellamy!’
The consternation of Sir Hugh was extreme: he had concluded him a stranger to the whole party because a stranger to himself; and the discovery of his mistake made him next conclude, that he had risked a breach of the marriage he so much desired by his own indiscretion. He took Eugenia immediately under his arm, as if fearful she might else be conveyed away for Scotland before his eyes, and hurrying to the church porch, called aloud for his phaeton.
The phaeton was not arrived.
Still more dismayed, he walked on with Eugenia to the railing round the church-yard, motioning with his left hand that no one should follow.
Edgar, Lionel, and Bellamy marched to the road, listening for the sound of horses, but they heard none; and the carriages of the neighbouring gentry, from which they might have hoped any assistance, had been driven away while they had waited for Dr. Marchmont.
Meanwhile, the eyes of Eugenia again caught the young Oxonian, who was wandering around the church-yard: neither was he unobserved by Indiana, who, though she participated not in the turn of reasoning, or taste for the romantic, which awakened in Eugenia so forcible a sympathy, was yet highly gratified by his apparent devotion to her charms: and had not Miss Margland narrowly watched and tutored her, would easily have been attracted from the cold civilities of Edgar, to the magnetism of animated admiration.
In these circumstances, a few minutes appeared many hours to Sir Hugh, and he presently exclaimed: ‘There’s no possibility of waiting here the whole day long, not knowing what may be the end!’ Then, calling to Dr. Orkborne, he said to him in a low voice, ‘My good friend, here’s happened a sad thing; that young man I asked into my pew, for which I take proper shame to myself, is the same person that wanted to make Eugenia give up Clermont Lynmere, her own natural relation, and mine into the bargain, for the sake of a stranger to us all; which I hold to be rather uncommendable, considering we know nothing about him; though there’s no denying his being handsome enough to look at; which, however, is no certainty of his making a good husband; so I’ll tell you a mode I’ve thought of, which I think to be a pretty good one, for parting them out of hand.’
Dr. Orkborne, who had just taken out his tablets, in order to enter some hints relative to his great work, begged him to say no more till he had finished his sentence. The baronet looked much distressed, but consented: and when he had done, went on:
‘Why, if you will hold Eugenia, I’ll go up to the rest, and send them on to the cottage; and when they are gone, I shall get rid of this young chap, by telling him Eugenia and I want to be alone.’
Dr. Orkborne assented; and Sir Hugh, advancing to the group, made his proposition, adding: ‘Eugenia and I will overtake you as soon as the garden-chair comes, which, I dare say, won’t be long, Robert being so behind-hand already.’ Then, turning to Bellamy, ‘I am sorry, sir,’ he said, ‘I can’t possibly ask you to stay with us, because of something my little niece and I have got to talk about, which we had rather nobody should hear, being an affair of our own: but I thank you for your civility, sir, in picking up my stick and my pocket handkerchief, and I wish you a very good morning and a pleasant walk, which I hope you won’t take ill.’
Bellamy bowed, and, saying he by no means intended to intrude himself into the company, slowly drew back.
Edgar then pointed out a path through the fields that would considerably abridge the walk, if the ladies could manage to cross over a dirty lane on the other side of the church-yard.
The baronet, who was in high spirits at the success of his scheme, declared that if there was a short cut, they should not part company, for he could walk it himself. Edgar assured him it could not be more than half a mile, and offered him the use of his arm.
‘No, no, my good young friend,’ answered he, smiling significantly; ‘take care of Indiana! I have got a good stick, which I hold to be worth any arm in Christendom, except for not being alive; so take care of Indiana, I say.’
Edgar bowed, but with a silence and gravity not unmixt with surprise; and Sir Hugh, a little struck, hastily added, ‘Nay, nay, I mean no harm!’
‘No, sir,’ said Edgar, recovering, ‘you can mean nothing but good, when you give me so fair a charge.’ And he placed himself at the side of Indiana.
‘Well then, now,’ cried Sir Hugh, I’ll marshal you all; and, first, for my little Camilla, who shall come to my proper share; for she’s certainly the best companion of the whole; which I hope nobody will take for a slight, all of us not being the same, without any fault of our own. Dr. Orkborne shall keep to Eugenia, because, if there should be a want of conversation, they can go over some of their lessons. Lionel shall take the care of Mrs. Margland, it being always right for the young to help people a little stricken; and as for the odd one, Dr. Marchmont, why he may join little Camilla and me; for as she’s none of the steadiest, and I am none of the strongest, it is but fair the one over should be between us.’
Everybody professed obedience but Lionel; who, with a loud laugh, called to Edgar to change partners.
‘We are all under orders,’ answered he, quietly, ‘and I must not be the first to mutiny.’
Indiana smiled with triumph; but Miss Margland, firing with anger, declared she wanted no help, and would accept none.
Sir Hugh was now beginning an expostulation with his nephew; but Lionel preferred compliance to hearing it; yet, to obviate the ridicule which he was persuaded would follow such an acquiescence, he strided up to Miss Margland with hasty steps, and dropping on one knee, in the dust, seized and kissed her hand; but precipitately rising, and shaking himself, called out: ‘My dear ma’am, have you never a little cloaths-brush in your pocket? I can’t kneel again else!’
Miss Margland wrathfully turned from him; and the party proceeded to a small gate, at the back of the church, that opened to the lane mentioned by Edgar, over which, when the rest of the company had passed, into a beautiful meadow, Lionel offered his hand for conducting Miss Margland, who rejected it disdainfully.
‘Then, you will be sure to fall,’ said he.
‘Not unless you do something to make me.’
‘You will be sure to fall,’ he repeated coolly.
Much alarmed, she protested she would not get over before him.
He absolutely refused to go first.
The whole party stopt; and Bellamy, who had hitherto stood still and back, now ventured to approach, and in the most courteous manner, to offer his services to Miss Margland. She looked victoriously around her; but as he had spoken in a low voice, only said: ‘Sir?’ to make him repeat his proposal more audibly. He complied, and the impertinencies of Lionel rendered his civility irresistible: ‘I am glad,’ she cried, ‘there is still one gentleman left in the world!’ And accepted his assistance, though her persecutor whispered that her spark was a dead man! and strutted significantly away.
Half frightened, half suspecting she was laughed at, she repeated softly to Sir Hugh the menace of his nephew, begging that, to prevent mischief, she might still retain Bellamy.
‘Lord be good unto me!’ cried he, ‘what amazing fools the boys of now a-days are grown! with all their learning, and teaching, and classics at their tongue’s end for nothing! However, not to set them together by the ears, till they grow a little wiser, which, I take it, won’t be of one while, why you must e’en let this strange gentleman walk with you till t’other boy’s further off. However, this one thing pray mind! (lowering his voice,) keep him all to yourself! if he does but so much as look at Eugenia, give him to understand it’s a thing I sha’n’t take very kind of him.’
Beckoning then to Dr. Orkborne, he uneasily said: ‘As I am now obliged to have that young fellow along with us, for the sake of preventing an affray, about nobody knows what, which is the common reason of quarrels among those raw young fry, I beg you to keep a particular sharp look out, that he does not take the opportunity to run off with Eugenia.’
The spirit of the baronet had over-rated his strength; and he was forced to sit upon the lower step of a broad stile at the other end of the meadow: while Miss Margland, who leant her tall thin figure against a five-barred gate, willingly obviated his solicitude about Eugenia, by keeping Bellamy in close and unabating conference with herself.
A circumstance in the scenery before him now struck Dr. Orkborne with some resemblance to a verse in one of Virgil’s Eclogues, which he thought might be happily applied to illustrate a passage in his own work; taking out, therefore, his tablets, he begged Eugenia not to move, and wrote his quotation; which, leading him on to some reflections upon the subject, soon drove his charge from his thoughts, and consigned him solely to his pencil.
Eugenia willingly kept her place at his side: offended by Bellamy, she would give him no chance of speaking with her, and the protection under which her uncle had placed her she deemed sacred.
Here they remained but a short time, when their ears received the shock of a prodigious roar from a bull in the field adjoining. Miss Margland screamed, and hid her face with her hands. Indiana, taught by her lessons to nourish every fear as becoming, shriekt still louder, and ran swiftly away, deaf to all that Edgar, who attended her, could urge. Eugenia, to whom Bellamy instantly hastened, seeing the beast furiously make towards the gate, almost unconsciously accepted his assistance, to accelerate her flight from its vicinity; while Dr. Orkborne, intent upon his annotations, calmly wrote on, sensible there was some disturbance, but determining to evade inquiring whence it arose, till he had secured what he meant to transmit to posterity from the treachery of his memory.
Camilla, the least frightened, because the most enured to such sounds, from the habits and the instruction of her rural life and education, adhered firmly to Sir Hugh, who began blessing himself with some alarm; but whom Dr. Marchmont re-assured, by saying the gate was secured, and too high for the bull to leap, even supposing it a vicious animal.
The first panic was still in its meridian, when Lionel, rushing past the beast, which he had secretly been tormenting, skipt over the gate, with every appearance of terror, and called out: ‘Save yourselves all! Miss Margland in particular; for here’s a mad bull!’
A second astounding bellow put a stop to any question, and wholly checked the immediate impulse of Miss Margland to ask why she was thus selected; she snatched her hands from her face, not doubting she should see her esquire soothingly standing by her side; but, though internally surprised and shocked to find herself deserted, she gathered strength to run from the gate with the nimbleness of youth, and, flying to the stile, regardless of Sir Hugh, and forgetting all her charges, scrambled over it, and ran on from the noise, without looking to the right or the left.
Sir Hugh, whom Lionel’s information, and Miss Margland’s pushing past him, had extremely terrified, was now also getting over the stile, with the assistance of Dr. Marchmont, ejaculating: ‘Lord help us! what a poor race we are! No safety for us! if we only come out once in a dozen years, we must meet with a mad bull!’
He had, however, insisted that Camilla should jump over first, saying, ‘There’s no need of all of us being tost, my dear girl, because, of my slowness, which is no fault of mine, but of Robert’s not being in the way; which must needs make the poor fellow unhappy enough, when he hears of it: which, no doubt, I shall let him do, according to his deserts.’
The other side of the stile brought them to the high road. Lionel, who had only wished to torment Miss Margland, felt his heart smite him, when he saw the fright of his uncle, and flew to acquaint him that he had made a mistake, for the bull was only angry, not mad.
The unsuspicious baronet thanked him for his good news, and sat upon a bank till the party could be collected.
This, however, was not soon to be done; the dispersion from the meadow having been made in every possible direction.
INDIANA, intent but upon running on, had nearly reached the church-yard, without hearkening to one word of the expostulating Mandlebert; when, leaning over a tombstone, on which she had herself leant while waiting for the carriage, she perceived the young Oxonian. An instinctive spirit of coquetry made her now increase her pace; he heard the rustling of female approach, and looked up: her beauty, heightened by her flight, which animated her complexion, while it displayed her fine form, seemed more than ever celestial to the enamoured student; who darted forward from an impulse of irresistible surprise. ‘O Heaven!’ she cried, panting and stopping as he met her; ‘I shall die! I shall die!–I am pursued by a mad bull!’
Edgar would have explained, that all was safe; but Melmond neither heard nor saw him.–‘O, give me, then,’ he cried, emphatically; ‘give me the ecstasy to protect-to save you!’
His out-spread arms shewed his intention to bear her away; but Edgar, placing himself between them, said: ‘Pardon me, sir! this lady is under my care!’
‘O don’t fight about me! don’t quarrel!’ cried Indiana, with an apprehension half simple, half affected.
‘No, Madam!’ answered Melmond, respectfully retreating; ‘I know too-too well! my little claim in such a dispute!–Permit me, however, to assist you, Mr. Mandlebert, in your search of refuge; and deign, madam, to endure me in your sight, till this alarm passes away.’
Indiana, by no means insensible to this language, looked with some elation at Edgar, to see how he bore it.
Edgar was not surprised; he had already observed the potent impression made by the beauty of Indiana upon the Oxonian; and was struck, in defiance of its romance and suddenness, with its air of sincerity; he only, therefore, gently answered, that there was not the least cause of fear.
‘O, how can you say so?’ said Indiana; ‘how can you take so little interest in me?’
‘At least, at least,’ cried Melmond, trembling with eagerness, ‘condescend to accept a double guard!–Refuse not, Mr. Mandlebert, to suffer any attendance!’
Mandlebert, a little embarrassed, answered: ‘I have no authority to decide for Miss Lynmere: but, certainly, I see no occasion for my assistance.’
Melmond fervently clasped his hands, and exclaimed: ‘Do not, do not, madam, command me to leave you till all danger is over!’
The little heart of Indiana beat high with triumph; she thought Mandlebert jealous: Miss Margland had often told her there was no surer way to quicken him: and, even independently of this idea, the spirit, the ardour, the admiration of the Oxonian, had a power upon her mind that needed no auxiliary for delighting it.
She curtsied her consent; but declared she would never go back the same way. They proceeded, therefore, by a little round to the high road, which led to the field in which the party had been dispersed.
Indiana was full of starts, little shrieks, and palpitations; every one of which rendered her, in the eyes of the Oxonian, more and more captivating; and, while Edgar walked gravely on, reflecting, with some uneasiness, upon being thus drawn in to suffer the attendance of a youth so nearly a stranger, upon a young lady actually under his protection; Melmond was continually ejaculating in return to her perpetual apprehensions, ‘What lovely timidity!-what bewitching softness!–What feminine, what beautiful delicacy!–How sweet in terror!–How soul-piercing in alarm!’
These exclamations were nearly enchanting to Indiana, whose only fear was, lest they should not be heard by Edgar; and, whenever they ceased, whenever a pause and respectful silence took their place, new starts, fresh palpitations, and designed false steps, again called them forth; while the smile with which she repaid their enthusiastic speaker, was fuel to his flame, but poison to his peace.
They had not proceeded far, when they were met by Miss Margland, who, in equal trepidation from anger and from fear, was still making the best of her way from the bellowing of the bull. Edgar inquired for Sir Hugh, and the rest of the party; but she could speak only of Lionel; his insolence and his ill usage; protesting nothing but her regard for Indiana, could induce her to live a moment longer under his uncle’s roof.
‘But where,’ again cried Edgar, ‘where is Sir Hugh? and where are the ladies?’
‘Tossed by the bull,’ answered she, pettishly, ‘for aught I know; I did not choose to stay and be tossed myself; and a person like Mr. Lionel can soon make such a beast point at one, if he takes it into his humour.’
Edgar then begged they might hasten to their company; but Miss Margland positively refused to go back: and Indiana, always ready to second any alarm, declared, she should quite sink with fright, if they went within a hundred yards of that horrid field. Edgar still pleaded that the baronet would, expect them; but Melmond, in softer tones, spoke of fears, sensibility, and dangers; and Edgar soon found he was talking to the winds.
All now that remained to prevent further separations was, that Edgar should run on to the party, and acquaint them that Miss Margland and Indiana would wait for them upon the high road.
Melmond, meanwhile, felt in paradise; even the presence of Miss Margland could not restrain his rapture, upon a casualty that gave him such a charge, though it forced him to forbear making the direct and open declaration of his passion, with which his heart was burning, and his tongue quivering. He attended them both with the most fervent respect, evidently very gratifying to the object of his adoration, though not noticed by Miss Margland, who was wholly absorbed by her own provocations.
Edgar soon reached the bank by the road’s side, upon which the baronet, Dr. Marchmont, Lionel, and Camilla were seated. ‘Lord help us!’ exclaimed Sir Hugh, aghast at his approach, ‘if here is not young Mr. Edgar without Indiana! This is a thing I could never have expected from you, young Mr. Edgar! that you should leave her, I don’t know where, and come without her!’
Edgar assured him she was safe, and under the care of Miss Margland, but that neither of them could be prevailed with to come farther: he had, therefore, advanced to inquire after the rest of the party, and to arrange where they should all assemble.
‘You have done very right, then, my dear Mr. Edgar, as you always do, as far as I can make out, when I come to the bottom. And now I am quite easy about Indiana. But as to Eugenia, what Dr. Orkborne has done with her is more than I can devise; unless, indeed, they are got to studying some of their Greek verbs, and so forgot us all, which is likely enough; only I had rather they had taken another time, not much caring to stay here longer than I can help.’
Edgar said, he would make a circuit in search of them; but, first, addressing Camilla, ‘You alone,’ he cried, with an approving smile, ‘have remained thus quiet, while all else have been scampering apart, making confusion worse confounded.‘
‘I have lived too completely in the country to be afraid of cattle,’ she answered; ‘and Dr. Marchmont assured me there was no danger.’
‘You can listen, then, even when you are alarmed,’ said he, expressively, ‘to the voice of reason!’
Camilla raised her eyes, and looked at him, but dropt them again without making any answer: Can you, she thought, have been pleading it in vain? How I wonder at Indiana?
He then set out to seek Eugenia, recommending the same office to Lionel by another route; but Lionel no sooner gathered where Miss Margland might be met with, than his repentance was forgotten, and he quitted everything to encounter her.
Edgar spent near half an hour in his search, without the smallest success; he was then seriously uneasy, and returning to the party, when a countryman, to whom he was known, told him he had seen Miss Eugenia Tyrold, with a very handsome fine town gentleman, going into a farm house.
Edgar flew to the spot, and through a window, as he advanced, perceived Eugenia seated, and Bellamy kneeling before her.
Amazed and concerned, he abruptly made his way into the apartment. Bellamy rose in the utmost confusion, and Eugenia, starting and colouring, caught Edgar by the arm, but could not speak.
He told her that her uncle and the whole company were waiting for her in great anxiety.
‘And where, where,’ cried she, ‘are they? I have been in agonies about them all! and I could not prevail–I could not-this gentleman said the risk was so great-he would not suffer me-but he has sent for a chaise, though I told him I had a thousand times rather hazard my life amongst them, and with them, than save it alone!’
‘They are all perfectly safe, nor has there ever been any danger.’
‘I was told–I was assured–’ said Bellamy, ‘that a mad bull was running wild about the country; and I thought it, therefore, advisable to send for a chaise from the nearest inn, that I might return this young lady to her friends.’
Edgar made no answer, but offered his arm to conduct Eugenia to her uncle. She accepted it, and Bellamy attended on her other side.
Edgar was silent the whole way. The attitude in which he had surprised Bellamy, by assuring him of the nature of his pretensions, had awakened doubts the most alarming of the destination in view for the chaise which he had ordered; and he believed that Eugenia was either to have been beguiled, or betrayed, into a journey the most remote from the home to which she belonged.
Eugenia increased his suspicions by the mere confusion which deterred her from removing them. Bellamy had assured her she was in the most eminent personal danger, and had hurried her from field to field, with an idea that the dreaded animal was in full pursuit. When carried, however, into the farm house, she lost all apprehension for herself in fears for her friends, and insisted upon sharing their fate. Bellamy, who immediately ordered a chaise, then cast himself at her feet, to entreat she would not throw away her life by so rash a measure.
Exhausted, from her lameness, she was forced to sit still, and such was their situation at the entrance of Edgar. She wished extremely to explain what had been the object of the solicitation of Bellamy, and to clear him, as well as herself, from any further surmises; but she was ashamed to begin the subject. Edgar had seen a man at her feet, and she thought, herself, it was a cruel injury to Clermont, though she knew not how to refuse it forgiveness, since it was merely to supplicate she would save her own life.
Bellamy, therefore, was the only one who spoke; and his unanswered observations contributed but little to enliven the walk.
When they came within sight of the party, the baronet was again seized with the extremest dismay. ‘Why now, what’s this?’ cried he; ‘here’s nothing but blunders. Pray, Sir, who gave you authority to take my niece from her own tutor? for so I may call him, though more properly speaking, he came amongst us to be mine; which, however, is no affair but of our own.’
‘Sir,’ answered Bellamy, advancing and bowing; ‘I hope I have had the happiness of rather doing service than mischief; I saw the young lady upon the point of destruction, and I hastened her to a place of security, from whence I had ordered a post-chaise, to convey her safe to your house.’
‘Yes, my dear uncle,’ said Eugenia, recovering from her embarrassment; ‘I have occasioned this gentleman infinite trouble; and though Mr. Mandlebert assures us there was no real danger, he thought there was, and therefore I must always hold myself to be greatly obliged to him.’
‘Well, if that’s the case, I must be obliged to him too; which, to tell you the truth, is not a thing I am remarkably fond of having happened. But where’s Dr. Orkborne? I hope he’s come to no harm, by his not shewing himself?’
‘At the moment of terror,’ said Eugenia, ‘I accepted the first offer of assistance, concluding we were all hurrying away at the same time; but I saw Dr. Orkborne no more afterwards.’
‘I can’t say that was over and above kind of him, nor careful neither,’ cried Sir Hugh, ‘considering some particular reasons; however, where is he now?’
Nobody could say; no one had seen or observed him.
‘Why then, ten to one, poor gentleman!’ exclaimed the baronet, ‘but he’s the very person himself who’s tossed, while we are all of us running away for nothing!’
A suspicion now occurred to Dr. Marchmont, which led him to return over the stile into the field where the confusion had begun; and there, on the exact spot where he had first taken out his tablets, calmly stood Dr. Orkborne; looking now upon his writing, now up to the sky, but seeing nothing any where, from intense absorption of thought upon the illustration he was framing.
Awakened from his reverie by the Doctor, his first recollection was of Eugenia; he had not doubted her remaining quietly by his side, and the moment he looked round and missed her, he felt considerable compunction. The good Doctor, however, assured him all were safe, and conducted him to the group.
‘So here you are,’ said the baronet, ‘and no more tossed than myself, for which I am sincerely thankful, though I can’t say I think you have taken much care of my niece, nobody knowing what might have become of her, if it had not been for that strange gentleman, that I never saw before.’
He then formally placed Eugenia under the care of Dr. Marchmont.
Dr. Orkborne, piqued by this transfer, sullenly followed, and now gave to her, pertinaciously, his undivided attention. Drawn by a total revulsion of ideas from the chain of thinking that had led him to composition, he relinquished his annotations in resentment of this dismission, when he might have pursued them uninterruptedly without neglect of other avocations.
A COUNCIL was now held upon what course must next be taken. Both Sir Hugh and Eugenia were too much fatigued to walk any further; yet it was concluded that the garden chair, by some mistake, was gone straight to the cottage. Edgar, therefore, proposed running thither to bring it round for them, while Dr. Orkborne should go forward for Miss Margland and Indiana, and conduct them by the high road to the same place; where the whole party might at length re-assemble. Sir Hugh approved the plan, and he set off instantly.
But not so Dr. Orkborne; he thought himself disgraced by being sent from one post to another; and though Eugenia was nothing to him, in competition with his tablets and his work, his own instructions had so raised her in his mind, that he thought her the only female worthy a moment of his time. Indiana he looked upon with ineffable contempt; the incapacity she had shewn during the short time she was under his pupillage, had convinced him of the futility of her whole sex, from which he held Eugenia to be a partial exception; and Miss Margland, who never spoke to him but in a voice of haughty superiority, and whom he never answered, but with an air of solemn superciliousness, was his rooted aversion. He could not brook being employed in the service of either; he stood, therefore, motionless, till Sir Hugh repeated the proposition.
Not caring to disoblige him, he then, without speaking, slowly and unwillingly moved forwards.
‘I see,’ said the baronet, softened rather than offended, ‘he does not much like to leave his little scholar, which is but natural; though I took it rather unkind his letting the poor thing run against the very horns of the bull, as one may say, if it had not been for a mere accidental passenger. However, one must always make allowance for a man that takes much to his studies, those things generally turning the head pretty much into a narrow compass.’
He then called after him, and said if the walk would tire him, he would wait till they came of themselves, which no doubt they would soon do, as Lionel was gone for them.
Dr. Orkborne gladly stopt; but Dr. Marchmont, seeing little likelihood of a general meeting without some trouble, offered to take the commission upon himself, with a politeness that seemed to shew it to be a wish of his own.
Sir Hugh accepted his kindness with thanks; and Dr. Orkborne, though secretly disconcerted by such superior alacrity in so learned a man, was well content to reinstate himself by the side of his pupil.
Sir Hugh, who saw the eyes of Bellamy constantly turned towards Eugenia, thought his presence highly dangerous, and with much tribulation, said: ‘As I find, sir, we may all have to stay here, I don’t know how long, I hope you won’t be affronted, after my best thanks for your keeping my niece from the bull, if I don’t make any particular point of begging the favour of you to stay much longer with us.’
Bellamy, extremely chagrined, cast an appealing look at Eugenia, and expressing his regret that his services were inadmissible, made his retreat with undisguised reluctance.
Eugenia, persuaded she owed him a serious obligation for his care, as well as for his partiality, felt the sincerest concern at his apparent distress, and contributed far more than she intended to its removal, by the gentle countenance with which she received his sorrowful glance.
Bellamy, hastily overtaking Dr. Marchmont, darted on before him in search of Miss Margland and Indiana, who, far from advancing, were pacing their way back to the church-yard. Lionel had joined them, and the incensed Miss Margland had encouraged the glad attendance of the Oxonian, as a protection to herself.
The sight of Bellamy by no means tended to disperse the storm: She resented his deserting her while she was in danger, and desired to see no more of him. But when he had respectfully suffered her wrath to vent itself, he made apologies, with an obsequiousness so rare to her, and a deference so strikingly contrasted with the daring ridicule of Lionel, that she did not long oppose the potent charm of adulation-a charm which, however it may be sweetened by novelty, seldom loses its effect by any familiarity.
During these contests, Indiana was left wholly to young Melmond, and the temptation was too strong for his impassioned feelings to withstand: ‘O fairest,’ he cried, ‘fairest and most beautiful of all created beings! Can I resist-no! this one, one effusion-the first and the last! The sensibility of your mind will plead for me–I read it in those heavenly eyes-they emit mercy in their beauty! they are as radiant with goodness as with loveliness! alas! I trespass–I blush and dare not hope your forgiveness.’
He stopt, terrified at his own presumption; but the looks of Indiana were never more beautiful, and never less formidable. A milder doom, therefore, seemed suddenly to burst upon his view. Elated and enraptured, he vehemently exclaimed: ‘Oh, were my lot not irrevocably miserable! were the smallest ray of light to beam upon my despondence!’–
Indiana still spoke not a word, but she withdrew not her smiles; and the enraptured student, lifted into the highest bliss by the permission even of a doubt, walked on, transported, by her side, too happy in suspence to wish an explanation.
In this manner they proceeded, till they were joined by Dr. Marchmont. The task he had attempted was beyond his power of performance; Miss Margland was inexorable; she declared nothing should induce her to go a step towards the field inhabited by the bull, and every assurance of safety the Doctor could urge was ineffectual.
He next assailed Indiana; but her first terror, soothed by the compassion and admiration of Melmond, was now revived, and she protested, almost with tears, that to go within a hundred yards of that dreadful meadow would make her undoubtedly faint away. The tender commiseration of Melmond confirmed her apprehensions, and she soon looked upon Dr. Marchmont as a barbarian for making the proposal.
The Doctor then commended them to the care of Lionel, and returned with this repulse to Sir Hugh.
The baronet, incapable of being angry with any one he conceived to be frightened, said they should be pressed no more, for he would give up going to the cottage, and put his best foot forward to walk on to them himself; adding he was so overjoyed to have got rid of that young spark, that he had no fear but that he, and poor Eugenia, too, should both do as well as they could.
They proceeded very slowly, the baronet leaning upon Dr. Marchmont, and Eugenia upon Dr. Orkborne, who watchful, with no small alarm, of the behaviour of the only man he had yet seen with any internal respect, since he left the university, sacrificed completely his notes and his tablets to emulate his attentions.
When they approached the church-yard, in which Miss Margland and her party had halted, Sir Hugh perceived Bellamy. He stopt short, calling out, with extreme chagrin, ‘Lord help us! what a thing it is to rejoice! which one never knows the right season to do, on the score of meeting with disappointments!’
Then, after a little meditation, ‘There is but one thing,’ he cried, ‘to be done, which is to guard from the first against any more mischief, having already had enough of it for one morning, not to say more than I could have wished by half: So do you, good Dr. Marchmont, take Eugenia under your own care, and I’ll make shift with Dr. Orkborne for myself; for, in the case he should take again to writing or thinking, it will be nothing to me to keep still till he has done; provided it should happen at a place where I can sit down.’
Dr. Orkborne had never felt so deeply hurt; the same commission transferred to Edgar, or to Lionel, would have failed to affect him; he considered them as of an age fitted for such frivolous employment, which he thought as much below his dignity, as the young men themselves were beneath his competition; but the comfort of contempt, a species of consolation ever ready to offer itself to the impulsive pride of man, was here an alleviation he could not call to his aid; the character of Dr. Marchmont stood as high in erudition as his own; and, though his acquaintance with him was merely personal, the fame of his learning, the only attribute to which fame, in his conception, belonged, had reached him from authority too unquestionable for doubt. The urbanity, therefore, of his manners, his general diffusion of discourse, and his universal complaisance, filled him with astonishment, and raised an emotion of envy which no other person would have been deemed worthy of exciting.
But though his long and fixed residence at Cleves had now removed the timid circumspection with which he first sought to ensure his establishment, he yet would not venture any positive refusal to the baronet; he resigned, therefore, his young charge to his new and formidable opponent, and even exerted himself to mark some alacrity in assisting Sir Hugh. But his whole real attention was upon Dr. Marchmont, whom his eye followed in every motion, to discover, if possible, by what art unknown he had acquired such a command over his thoughts and understanding, as to bear patiently, nay pleasantly, with the idle and unequal companions of general society.
Dr. Marchmont, who was rector of Cleves, had been introduced to Sir Hugh upon the baronet’s settling in the large mansion-house of that village; but he had not visited at the house, nor had his company been solicited. Sir Hugh, who could never separate understanding from learning, nor want of education from folly, concluded that such a man as Dr. Marchmont must necessarily despise him; and though the extreme sweetness of his temper made him draw the conclusion without resentment, it so effectually prevented all wish of any intercourse, that they had never conversed together till this morning; and his surprise, now, at such civilities and good humour in so great a scholar, differed only from that of Dr. Orkborne, in being accompanied with admiration instead of envy.
Eugenia thus disposed of, they were proceeding, when Sir Hugh next observed the young Oxonian: He was speaking with Indiana, to whom his passionate devotion was glaring from his looks, air, and whole manner.
‘Lord help me!’ exclaimed he; ‘if there is not another of those new chaps, that nobody knows anything about, talking to Indiana! and, for aught I can tell to the contrary, making love to her! I think I never took such a bad walk as this before, since the hour I was born, in point of unluckiness. Robert will have enough to answer for, which he must expect to hear; and indeed I am not much obliged to Mrs. Margland herself, and so I must needs tell her, though it is not what I much like to do.’
He then made a sign to Miss Margland to approach him: ‘Mrs. Margland,’ he cried, ‘I should not have taken the liberty to beckon you in this manner, but that I think it right to ask you what those two young gentlemen, that I never saw before, do in the church-yard; which is a thing I think rather odd.’
‘As to that gentleman, sir,’ she answered, bridling, ‘who was standing by me, he is the only person I have found to protect me from Mr. Lionel, whose behaviour, sit, I must freely tell you–’
‘Why certainly, Mrs. Margland, I can’t deny but he’s rather a little over and above giddy; but I am sure your understanding won’t mind it, in consideration of his being young enough to be your son, in the case of your having been married time enough.’
He then desired Indiana would come to him.
The rapture of the Oxonian was converted into torture by this summons; and the suspence which the moment before he had gilded with the gay colours of hope, he felt would be no longer supportable when deprived of the sight of his divinity. Scarce could he refrain from casting himself publicly at her feet, and pouring forth the wishes of his heart. But when again the call was repeated, and he saw her look another way, as if desirous not to attend to it, the impulse of quick rising joy dispersed his small remains of forbearance, and precipitately clasping his hands, ‘O go not!’ he passionately exclaimed; ‘leave me not in this abyss of suffering! Fairest and most beautiful! tell me at least, if my death is inevitable! if no time-no constancy-no adoration-may ever dare hope to penetrate that gentlest of bosoms!’
Indiana herself was now, for the first time, sensible of a little emotion; the animation of this address delighted her; it was new, and its effect was highly pleasing. How cold, she thought, is Edgar! She made not any answer, but permitted her eyes to meet his with the most languishing softness.
Melmond trembled through his whole frame; despair flew him, and expectation wore her brightest plumage: ‘O pronounce but one word,’ he cried, ‘one single word!-are, are you–0 say not yes!-irrevocably engaged?-lost to all hope-all possibility for ever?’
Indiana again licensed her fine eyes with their most melting powers, and all self-control was finally over with her impassioned lover; who, mingling prayers for her favour, with adoration of her beauty, heeded not who heard him, and forgot every presence but her own.
Miss Margland, who, engrossed by personal resentment and debates, had not remarked the rising courage, and energy of Melmond, had just turned to Indiana, upon the second call of Sir Hugh, and became now utterly confounded by the sight of her willing attention: ‘Miss Lynmere,’ cried she, angrily, ‘what are you thinking of? Suppose Mr. Mandlebert should come, what might be the consequence?’
‘Mandlebert?’ repeated Melmond, while the blood forsook his cheeks; ‘is it then even so?-is all over?-all decided? is my destiny black and ireful for ever?’
Indiana still more and more struck with him, looked down, internally uttering: Ah! were this charming youth but master of Beech Park!
At this instant, the rapid approach of a carriage caught their ears; and eager to avoid making a decisive reply, she ran to the church-yard gate to look at it, exclaiming: ‘Dear! what an elegant chariot.’ When it came up to the party, it stopt, and, opening the door himself, Edgar jumped hastily out of it.
The Oxonian stood aghast: but Indiana, springing forward, and losing in curiosity every other sensation, cried: ‘Dear! Mr. Mandlebert, whose beautiful new carriage is that?’
‘Yours,’ answered he, gallantly, ‘if you will honour it with any commands.’
She then observed his crest and cypher were on the panels; and another entire new set of ideas took instant possession of her mind. She received literally an answer which he had made in gay courtesy, and held out her hand to be helped into the chariot.
Edgar, though surprised and even startled at this unexpected appropriation of his civility, could not recede; but the moment he had seated her, hastily turned round, to inquire who else was most fatigued.
The Oxonian now felt lost! suddenly, abruptly, but irretrievably lost! The cypher he saw-the question ‘whose carriage is that?’ he heard-the answer ‘yours’ made him gasp for breath, and the instantaneous acceptance stung him to the soul. Wholly in desperation, he rushed to the opposite window of the chariot, and calling out, ‘enough, cruel!-cruel!-enough–I will see you no more!’ hurried out of sight.
Indiana, who, for the first time, thought herself mistress of a new and elegant equipage, was so busily employed in examining the trappings and the lining, that she bore his departure without a sigh; though but an instant before it might have cost her something near one.
Eugenia had been touched more deeply. She was ignorant of what had passed, but she had seen the agitation of Melmond, and the moment he disappeared, she ejaculated secretly: ‘Ah! had he conceived the prepossession of Bellamy! where had been my steadiness? where, O Clermont! thy security!–’
The scrupulous delicacy of her mind was shocked at this suggestion, and she rejoiced she had not been put to such a trial.
Edgar now explained, that when he arrived at the cottage, he found, as he had foreseen, the garden chair waiting there, by mistake, and Robert in much distress, having just discovered that an accident had happened to one of the wheels. He had run on, therefore, himself, to Beech Park, for his own new chariot, which was lately arrived from town, making Robert follow with Sir Hugh’s horses, as his own were out at grass.
It was dinner-time, and Sir Hugh, equally vexed and fatigued, resolved to return straight home. He accepted, therefore, a place in the chariot, bid Eugenia follow him, and Robert make haste; solemnly adding to the latter: ‘I had fully intended making you the proper lecture upon your not coming in time; but as it has turned out not to be your fault, on account of an accident, I shall say no more; except to give you a hint not to do such a thing again, because we have all been upon the point of being tossed by a mad bull; which would certainly have happened, but for the lucky chance of its turning out a false alarm.’
The remainder of the party proceeded without further adventure. Edgar attended Camilla; Miss Margland adhered to Bellamy: Lionel, who durst not venture at any new frolic, but with whom time lingered when none was passing, retreated; Dr. Marchmont, who was near his home, soon also made his bow; and Dr. Orkborne, who was glad to be alone, ruminated with wonder upon what appeared to him a phenomenon, a man of learning who could deign to please and seem pleased where books were not the subject of discourse, and where scholastic attainments were not required to elucidate a single sentence.
WHEN the party arrived at Cleves, Camilla, who had observed that Edgar seemed much disappointed by the breaking up of the cottage expedition, proposed that it should take place in the evening; and her uncle, though too much fatigued to venture out again himself, consented, or rather insisted, that the excursion should be made without him.
Before they set out, Edgar desired to speak with Sir Hugh in private.
Sir Hugh concluded it was to make his proposals of marriage for Indiana; and had not patience to step into his own apartment, but told them all to retire, with a nod at Indiana, which prepared not only herself but Miss Margland, Camilla, and Eugenia to join in his expectation.
Indiana, though a good deal fluttered, flew to a window, to see if the new chariot was in sight; and then, turning to Miss Margland, asked, ‘Pray, should I refuse him at first?’
Miss Margland spared not for proper instructions; and immediately began a negociation with the fair questioner, for continuing to live with her.
Eugenia was occupied in reflecting with pity upon the idleness of Indiana, which so ill had fitted her for becoming the companion of Mandlebert.
Camilla, unusually thoughtful, walked alone into the garden, and sought a path least in sight.
Sir Hugh, meanwhile, was most unpleasantly undeceived. Edgar, without naming Indiana, informed him of the situation in which he had surprised Bellamy, and of his suspicions with regard to the destination of the chaise, but for his own timely arrival at the farm-house; adding, that his gratitude to Mr. Tyrold, his respect for himself, and his affection for all the family, made him think it is duty to reveal these circumstances without delay.
The baronet shuddered with horror; and declared he would instantly send an express to bring Clermont home, that Eugenia might be married out of hand; and, in the mean time, that he would have every window in the house barred, and keep her locked up in her room.
Edgar dissuaded him from so violent a measure; but advised him to speak with his niece upon the danger she had probably escaped, and of which she seemed wholly unconscious; to prevail with her not to go out again this evening, and to send for Mr. Tyrold, and acquaint him with the affair.
Sir Hugh thanked him for his counsel, and implicitly acted by his opinion.
He then ordered the coach for Miss Margland, Indiana, and Camilla.
Dr. Orkborne, finding neither Sir Hugh nor Eugenia of the party, declined joining it. Lionel was returned to Etherington; and Edgar rode on before, to invite Dr. Marchmont, with the consent of the Baronet, to take the fourth place in the carriage.
Arrived at the rectory, he went straight, by prescriptive privilege, into the study of Dr. Marchmont, whom he found immersed in books and papers, which, immediately, at the request of Edgar, he put aside; not without regret to quit them, though wholly without reluctance to oblige.
Edgar had ridden so hard, that they had some time to wait for the coach. But he did not appear anxious for its arrival; though he wore a look that was far from implying him to be free from anxiety.
He was silent,-he hemmed,-he was silent again,-and again he hemmed,-and then, gently laying his hand upon the shoulder of the Doctor, while his eyes, full of meaning, were fixed upon his face; ‘Doctor,’ he cried, ‘you would hardly have known these young ladies?-they are all grown from children into women since you saw them last.’
‘Yes,’ answered the Doctor, ‘and very charming women. Indiana has a beauty so exquisite, it is scarce possible to look away from it a moment: Eugenia joins so much innocence with information, that the mind must itself be deformed that could dwell upon her personal defects, after conversing with her: Camilla’–
He paused, and Edgar hastily turned another way, not to look at him, nor be looked at, while he proceeded:
‘Camilla,’ he presently continued, ‘seems the most inartificially sweet, the most unobtrusively gay, and the most attractively lovely of almost any young creature I ever beheld.’
With a heart all expanded, and a face full of sensibility, Edgar now turned to him, and seizing, involuntarily, his hand, which he eagerly shook, ‘You think her; then,’-he cried,-but suddenly stopt, dropt his hand, coughed two or three times; and, taking out his pocket handkerchief, seemed tormented with a violent cold.
Dr. Marchmont affectionately embraced him. ‘My dear young friend,’ he cried, ‘I see the situation of your mind-and think every possible happiness promises to be yours; yet, if you have taken no positive step, suffer me to speak with you before you proceed.’
‘Far from having taken any positive step, I have not yet even formed any resolution.’
Here the carriage stopt for the Doctor, who repeated, ‘Yes! I think every possible happiness promises to be yours!’ before he went on to the ladies. Edgar, in a trepidation too great to be seen by them, kept behind till they drove off, though he then galloped so fast, that he arrived at the cottage before them: the words, ‘I think every possible happiness promises to be yours,’ vibrating the whole time in his ears.
When the coach arrived, Edgar handed out Miss Margland and Indiana; leaving Camilla to the Doctor; willing to let him see more of her, and by no means displeased to avoid his eyes at that moment himself.
Indiana was in the most sprightly spirits she had ever experienced; she concluded herself on the verge of becoming mistress of a fine place and a large fortune; she had received adulation all the morning that had raised her beauty higher than ever in her own estimation; and she secretly revolved, with delight, various articles of ornament and of luxury, which she had long wished to possess, and which now, for her wedding clothes, she should have riches sufficient to purchase.
Miss Margland, too, was all smoothness, complacency, and courtesy.
Camilla, alone, was grave; Camilla, who, by nature, was gay.
‘Dear! is this the cottage we have been coming to all this time?’ cried Indiana, upon entering; ‘Lord! I thought it would have been something quite pretty.’
‘And what sort of prettiness,’ said Edgar, ‘did you expect from a cottage?’
‘Dear, I don’t know-but I thought we were come on purpose to see something extraordinary?’
Camilla, who followed, made an exclamation far different; an exclamation of pleasure, surprise, and vivacity, that restored for an instant, all her native gaiety: for no sooner had she crossed the threshold, than she recognised, in a woman who was curtsying low to receive her, and whom Indiana had passed without observing, the wife of the poor prisoner for whom she had interceded with Mandlebert.
‘How I rejoice to see you!’ cried she, ‘and to see you here! and how much better you look! and how comfortable you seem! I hope you are now all well?’
‘Ah, madam,’ answered the woman; ‘we owe everything to that good young gentleman! he has put us in this nice new cottage, and employs us in his service. Blessings on his head! I am sure he will be paid for it!’
Edgar, somewhat agitated, occupied himself with jumping the little boy; Camilla looked round with rapture; Indiana seemed wonder-struck, without knowing why; Dr. Marchmont narrowly watched them all; and Miss Margland, expecting a new collection would be next proposed for setting them up, nimbly re-crossed the threshold, to examine the prospect without.
The husband, now in decent garb, and much recovered, though still weak and emaciated, advanced to Camilla, to make his humble acknowledgments, that she had recommended them to their kind benefactor.
‘No!’ cried Camilla; ‘you owe me nothing! your own distress recommended you;-your own distress-and Mr. Mandlebert’s generosity.’
Then, going up to Edgar, ‘It is your happy fate,’ she said, in an accent of admiration, ‘to act all that my father so often plans and wishes, but which his income will not allow him to execute.’
‘You see,’ answered he, gratefully, ‘how little suffices for content! I have scarce done anything-yet how relieved, how satisfied are these poor people! This hut was fortunately vacant’–
‘O, madam!’ interrupted the poor woman, ‘if you knew but how that good gentleman has done it all! how kindly he has used us, and made everybody else use us! and let nobody taunt us with our bad faults!-and what good he has done to my poor sick husband! and how he has clothed my poor little half naked children! and, what is more than all, saved us from the shame of an ill life.’–
Camilla felt the tears start into her eyes;-she hastily snatched the little babe into her arms; and, while her kisses hid her face, Happy, and thrice happy Indiana! with a soft sigh, was the silent ejaculation of her heart.
She seated herself on a stool, and, without speaking or hearing any thing more, devoted herself to the baby.
Indiana, meanwhile, whose confidence in her own situation gave her courage to utter whatever first occurred to her, having made a general survey of the place and people, with an air of disappointment, now amused herself with an inspection more minute, taking up and casting down everything that was portable, without any regard either to deranging its neatness, or endangering its safety:-exclaiming, as she made her round of investigation, ‘Dear! Crockery ware! how ugly!–Lord, what little mean chairs!–Is that your best gown, good woman?– Dear, what an ugly pattern!–Well, I would not wear such a thing to save my life!–Have you got nothing better than this for a floor-cloth? Only look at those curtains! Did you ever see such frights? Lord! do you eat off these platters? I am sure I could sooner die! I should not mind starving half as much!’
Miss Margland, hoping the collection was now either made or relinquished, ventured to re-enter, and inquire if they never meant to return home? Camilla unwillingly gave up the baby; but would not depart without looking over the cottage, where everything she saw excited a sensation of pleasure. ‘How neat is this! How tidy is that!’ were her continual exclamations; ‘How bright you have rubbed your saucepans! How clean every thing is all round! How soon you will all get well in this healthy and comfortable little dwelling!’
Edgar, in a low voice, then told Dr. Marchmont the history of his new cottagers, saying: ‘You will not, I hope, disapprove what I have done? Their natures seemed so much disposed to good, I could not bear to let their wants turn them again to evil.’
‘You have certainly done right,’ answered the Doctor; ‘to give money without inquiry, or further aid, to those who have adopted bad practices, is, to them, but temptation, and to society an injury; but to give them both the counsel and the means to pursue a right course, is, to them, perhaps, salvation, and to the community, the greatest service.”
Indiana and Miss Margland, quite wearied, both got into the carriage; Edgar, having deposited them, returned to Camilla, who kissed both the children, poured forth good wishes upon the father and mother; and, then, gave him her hand. Enchanted, he took it, exclaiming; ‘Ah! who is like you! so lively-yet so feeling!’
Struck and penetrated, she made no answer: Alas! she thought, I fear he is not quite satisfied with Indiana!
Dr. Marchmont was set down at his own house; where, he begged to have a conference with Edgar the next morning.
The whole way home, the benevolence of Edgar occupied the mind of Camilla; and, not in the present instance, the less, that its object had been originally of her own pointing out.
MR. and Mrs. Tyrold had obeyed the summons of Sir Hugh, whom they found in extreme tribulation; persuaded by his fears not only of the design of Bellamy, but of its inevitable success. His brother, however, who knew his alarms to be generally as unfounded as his hopes; and Mrs. Tyrold, who almost undisguisedly despised both; no sooner heard his account, than, declining to discuss it, they sent for Eugenia. She related the transaction with a confusion so innocent, that it was easy to discern shame alone had hitherto caused her silence; and with a simplicity so unaffected, that not a doubt could rest upon their minds, but that her heart was as disengaged as her intentions had been irreproachable. Yet they were not the less struck with the danger she had incurred; and, while her father blessed Mandlebert for her preservation, her mother was so sensible to his care for the family welfare and honour, that the anger she had conceived against him subsided, though the regret to which it had owed its birth increased.
Mr. Tyrold gave his daughter some slight cautions and general advice; but thought it wisest, since he found her tranquil and unsuspicious, not to raise apprehensions that might disturb her composure, nor awaken ideas of which the termination must be doubtful.
Her mother deemed the matter to be undeserving the least serious alarm. The man had appeared to her from the beginning to be a despicable adventurer; and her lofty contempt of all low arts made her conclude her well-principled Eugenia as superior to their snares as to their practice.
This conference completely quieted the fears of Sir Hugh; who relinquished his design of sending for Clermont, and imagined Edgar to have been too severe in his judgment of Bellamy, who had only knelt in pure compassion, to prevail with Eugenia to take care of her life.
The rector and his lady were already gone before the cottage group came home. Edgar was anxious to inquire of Sir Hugh what had passed. The three females, concluding he had still something to say relative to his proposals, by tacit agreement, retired to their own rooms.
They were not, however, as concurrent in their eagerness to reassemble. Miss Margland and Indiana watched the moment when they might appease their burning curiosity by descending: but Eugenia wished to prolong her absence, that she might recover from the embarrassment she had just suffered; and Camilla determined not to appear again till the next morning.
For the first time in her life after the shortest separation, she forbore to seek Eugenia, who she supposed would have gathered all the particulars of the approaching nuptials. She felt no desire to hear them. It was a period to which, hitherto, she had looked forward as to a thing of course; but this day it had struck her that Edgar and Indiana could not be happy together.–She had even surmised, from his last speech, that he lamented, in secret, the connexion he had formed.
The gentlest pity took possession of her breast; an increasing admiration succeeded to her pity. She could not bear to witness so unequal a scene, as the full satisfaction of Sir Hugh contrasted with the seriousness, perhaps repentance, of Edgar. She pleaded an head-ache, and went to bed.
The morning did not find her less averse to hear the confirmation of the suspected news. On the contrary, her repugnance to have it ascertained became stronger. She did not ask herself why; she did not consider the uselessness of flying for one hour what she must encounter the next. The present moment was all she could weigh; and, to procrastinate any evil, seemed, to her ardent and active imagination, to conquer it. Again, therefore, she planned a visit to Mrs. Arlbery; though she had given it up so long, from the discouragement of Lionel, that she felt more of shame than of pleasure in the idea of making so tardy an apology; but she could think of no other place to which the whole party would not accompany her; and to avoid them and their communications, for however short a space of time, was now her sole aim.
Before breakfast, she repaired to the apartment of her uncle; her request was granted, as soon as heard; and she ordered the chaise.
Indiana and Miss Margland, meanwhile, had learnt from the baronet, that the proposals were not yet made. Miss Margland softened the disappointment of Indiana, by suggesting that her admirer was probably waiting the arrival of some elegant trinket, that he destined to present her upon his declaration: but she was by no means free from doubt and suspicion herself. She languished to quit Cleves, and Sir Hugh had almost thought her accountable for the slowness of Mandlebert’s proceedings. To keep up her own consequence, she had again repeated her assurances, that all was in a prosperous train; though she had frequently, with strong private uneasiness, observed the eyes of Edgar fixed upon Camilla, with an attention far more pointed than she had ever remarked in them when their direction was towards her fair pupil.
Camilla hurried over her breakfast in expectation of the chaise, and in dread continual, lest her cousin should call her aside, to acquaint her that all was arranged. Edgar perceived, with surprise, that she was going out alone; and, no sooner gathered whither, than, drawing her to one of the windows, he earnestly said: ‘Is it by appointment you wait upon Mrs. Arlbery?’
‘Does she at all expect you this morning?’
‘Would it, then, be asking too much, if I should entreat you to postpone your visit for a short time?’
The whole design of Camilla was to absent herself immediately; yet she hated to say no. She looked disturbed, and was silent.
‘Have you made any further acquaintance with her since the morning of the raffle?’
‘No, none; but I wish excessively to know more of her.’
‘She is certainly, very-agreeable,’ said he, with some hesitation; ‘but, whether she is all Mrs. Tyrold would approve’–
‘I hope you know no harm of her?–If you do, pray keep it to yourself!-for it would quite afflict me to hear anything to her disadvantage.’
‘I should be grieved, indeed, to be the messenger of affliction to you; but I hope there may be no occasion; I only beg a day or two’s patience; and, in the meanwhile, I can give you this assurance; she is undoubtedly a woman of character. I saw she had charmed you, and I made some immediate inquiries. Her reputation is without taint.’
‘A thousand, thousand thanks,’ cried Camilla, gaily, ‘for taking so much trouble; and ten thousand more for finding it needless!’
Edgar could not forbear laughing, but answered, he was not yet so certain it was needless; since exemption from actual blemish could only be a negative recommendation: he should very soon, he added, see a lady upon whose judgment he could rely, and who would frankly satisfy him with respect to some other particulars, which, he owned, he considered as essential to be known, before any intimacy should be formed.
Wishing to comply with his request, yet impatient to leave the house, Camilla stood suspended till the chaise was announced.
‘I think,’ cried she, with a look and tone of irresolution, ‘my going this once can draw on no ill consequence?’
Edgar only dropt his eyes.
‘You are not of that opinion?’
‘I have a very particular engagement this morning,’ he replied; ‘but I will readily give it up, and ride off instantly to make my application to this lady, if it is possible you can defer only till tomorrow your visit. Will you suffer me to ask such a delay? It will greatly oblige me.’
‘Why, then,–I will defer it till to-morrow,-or till to-morrow week!’ cried she, wholly vanquished; ‘I insist, therefore, that you do not postpone your business.’
She then desired the servant, who was taking away the breakfast equipage, to order the chaise to be put up.
Edgar, subdued in his turn, caught her hand: but, instantly, recollecting himself, hastily let it go; and, throwing up the window sash, abruptly exclaimed: ‘I never saw such fine weather:–I hope it will not rain!’
He then rapidly wished them all good morning, and mounted his horse.
Miss Margland, who, sideling towards the window, on pretence of examining a print, had heard and seen all that had passed, was almost overpowered with rage, by the conviction she received that her apprehensions were not groundless. She feared losing all weight both with the baronet and with Indiana, if she made this acknowledgment, and retreated, confounded, to her own room, to consider what path to pursue at so dangerous a crisis; wearing a scowl upon her face, that was always an indication she would not be followed.
Camilla also went to her chamber, in a perturbation at once pleasing and painful. She was sorry to have missed her excursion, but she was happy to have obliged Edgar; she was delighted he could take such interest in her conduct and affairs, yet dreaded, more than ever, a private conversation with Indiana;–Indiana, who, every moment, appeared to her less and less calculated to bestow felicity upon Edgar Mandlebert.
She seated herself at a window, and soon, through the trees, perceived him galloping away. ‘Too-too amiable Edgar!’ she cried, earnestly looking after him, with her hands clasped, and tears starting into her eyes.
Frightened at her own tenderness, she rose, shut the window, and walked to another end of the apartment.
She took up a book; but she could not read: ‘Too-too amiable Edgar!’ again escaped her. She went to her piano-forte; she could not play: ‘Too-too amiable Edgar!’ broke forth in defiance of all struggle.
Alarmed and ashamed, even to herself, she resolved to dissipate her ideas by a long walk; and not to come out of the park, till the first dinner-bell summoned her to dress.
THE intention of Edgar had been to ride to Mrs. Needham, the lady of whom he meant to ask the information to which he had alluded; but a charm too potent for resistance demanded his immediate liberation from the promise to Dr. Marchmont, which bound him to proceed no further till they had again conversed together.
He galloped, therefore, to the parsonage-house of Cleves, and entering the study of the Doctor, and taking him by the hand, with the most animated gesture; ‘My dear and honoured friend,’ he cried, ‘I come to you now without hesitation, and free from every painful embarrassment of lurking irresolution! I come to you decided, and upon grounds which cannot offend you, though the decision anticipates your counsel. I come to you, in fine, my dear Doctor, my good and kind friend, to confess that yesterday you saw right, with regard to the situation of my mind, and that, today, I have only your felicitations to beg, upon my confirmed, my irrevocable choice!’
Dr. Marchmont embraced him: ‘May you then,’ he cried, ‘be as happy, my dear young friend, as you deserve! I can wish you nothing higher.’
‘Last night,’ continued Edgar, ‘I felt all doubt die away: captivating as I have ever thought her, so soft, so gentle, so touchingly sweet, as last night, I had never yet beheld her; you witnessed it, my dear Doctor? you saw her with the baby in her arms? how beautiful, how endearing a sight!’
The Doctor looked assentingly, but did not speak.
‘Yet even last night was short of the feelings she excited this morning. My dear friend! she was upon the point of making an excursion from which she had promised herself peculiar pleasure, and to see a lady for whom she had conceived the warmest admiration–I begged her to postpone-perhaps relinquish entirely the visit-she had obtained leave from Sir Hugh-the carriage was at the door-would you, could you believe such sweetness with such vivacity? she complied with my request, and complied with a grace that has rivetted her–I own it-that has rivetted her to my soul!’
Doctor Marchmont smiled, but rather pensively than rejoicingly; and Edgar, receiving no answer, walked for some time about the room, silently enjoying his own thoughts.
Returning then to the Doctor, ‘My dear friend,’ he cried, ‘I understood you wished to speak with me?’
‘Yes-but I thought you disengaged.’
‘So, except mentally, I am still.’
‘Does she not yet know her conquest?’
‘She does not even guess it.’
Dr. Marchmont now rising, with much energy said: ‘Hear me then, my dear and most valued young friend, forbear to declare yourself, make no overtures to her relations, raise no expectations even in her own breast, and let not rumour surmise your passion to the world, till her heart is better known to you.’
Edgar, starting and amazed, with great emotion exclaimed: ‘What do you mean, my good Doctor? do you suspect any prior engagement? any fatal prepossession?’–
‘I suspect nothing. I do not know her. I mean not, therefore, the propensities alone, but the worth, also, of her heart; deception is easy, and I must not see you thrown away.’
‘Let me, then, be her guarantee!’ cried Edgar, with firmness; ‘for I know her well! I have known her from her childhood, and cannot be deceived. I fear nothing-except my own powers of engaging her regard. I can trace to a certainty, even from my boyish remarks, her fair, open, artless, and disinterested charachter.’
He then gave a recital of the nobleness of her sentiments and conduct when only nine years old; contrasting the relation with the sullen and ungenerous behaviour of Indiana at the same age.
Dr. Marchmont listened to the account with attention and pleasure, but not with an air of that full conviction which Edgar expected. ‘All this,’ he said, ‘is highly prophetic of good, and confirms me in the opinion I expressed last night, that every possible happiness promises to be yours.’
‘Yet, still,’ said Edgar, a little chagrined, ‘there seems some drawback to your entire approbation?’
‘To your choice I have none.’
‘You perplex me, Doctor! I know not to what you object, what you would intimate, nor what propose?’
‘All I have to suggest may be comprised in two points: First, That you will refuse confirmation even to your own intentions, till you have positively ascertained her actual possession of those virtues with which she appears to be endowed: and secondly, That if you find her gifted with them all, you will not solicit her acceptance till you are satisfied of her affection.’
‘My dear Doctor,’ cried Edgar, half laughing, ‘from what an alarm of wild conjecture has your explanation relieved me! Hear me, however, in return, and I think I can satisfy you, that, even upon your own conditions, not an obstacle stands in the way of my speaking to Mr. Tyrold this very evening.
‘With regard to your first article, her virtues, I have told you the dawning superiority of her most juvenile ideas of right; and though I have latterly lost sight of her, by travelling during our vacations, I know her to have always been under the superintendence of one of the first of women; and for these last three weeks, which I have spent under the same roof with her, I have observed her to be all that is amiable, sweet, natural, and generous. What then on this point remains? Nothing. I am irrefragably convinced of her worth.
‘With respect to your second condition, I own you a little embarrass me; yet how may I inquire into the state of her affections, without acknowledging her mistress of mine?’
‘Hold! hold!’ interrupted the Doctor, ‘you proceed too rapidly. The first article is all unsettled, while you are flying to the last.
‘It is true, and I again repeat it, every promise is in your favour; but do not mistake promise for performance. This young lady appears to be all excellence; for an acquaintance, for a friend, I doubt not you have already seen enough to establish her in your good opinion-but since it is only within a few hours you have taken the resolution which is to empower her to colour the rest of your life, you must study her, from this moment, with new eyes, new ears, and new thoughts. Whatever she does, you must ask yourself this question: “Should I like such behaviour in my wife?” Whatever she says, you must make yourself the same demand. Nothing must escape you; you must view as if you had never seen her before; the interrogatory, Were she mine? must be present at every look, every word, every motion; you must forget her wholly as Camilla Tyrold, you must think of her only as Camilla Mandlebert; even justice is insufficient during this period of probation, and instead of inquiring, “Is this right in her?” you must simply ask, “Would it be pleasing to me?"’
‘You are apprehensive, then, of some dissimilitude of character prejudicial to our future happiness?’
‘Not of character; you have been very peculiarly situated for obviating all risk upon that first and most important particular. I have no doubt of her general worthiness; but though esteem hangs wholly upon character, happiness always links itself with disposition.’
‘You gratify me, Doctor, by naming disposition, for I can give you the most unequivocal assurance of her sweetness, her innocence, her benevolence, joined to a spirit of never-dying vivacity-an animation of never-ceasing good humour!’
‘I know you, my dear Mandlebert, to be, by nature, penetrating and minute in your observations; which, in your general commerce with the world, will protect both your understanding and your affections from the usual snares of youth: But here-to be even scrupulous is not enough; to avoid all danger of repentance, you must become positively distrustful.’
‘Never, Doctor, never! I would sooner renounce every prospect of felicity, than act a part so ungenerous, where I am conscious of such desert! Upon this article, therefore, we have done; I am already and fully convinced of her excellence. But, with respect to your second difficulty, that I will not seek her acceptance, till satisfied of her regard-there-indeed, you start an idea that comes home to my soul in its very inmost recesses! O Doctor!-could I hope-however distantly-durst I hope-the independent, unsolicited, involuntary possession of that most ingenuous, most inartificial of human hearts!–’
‘And why not? why, while so liberally you do justice to another, should you not learn to appreciate yourself?’
A look of elation, delight, and happiness conveyed to Dr. Marchmont his pupil’s grateful sense of this question.
‘I do not fear making you vain,’ he continued; ‘I know your understanding to be too solid, and your temperament too philosophic, to endanger your running into the common futility of priding yourself upon the gifts of nature, any more than upon those of fortune; ’tis in their uses only you can claim any applause. I will not, therefore, scruple to assert, you can hardly any where propose yourself with much danger of being rejected. You are amiable and accomplished; abounding in wealth, high in character; in person and appearance unexceptionable; you can have no doubt of the joyful approbation of her friends, nor can you entertain a reasonable fear of her concurrence; yet, with all this, pardon me, when I plainly, explicitly add, it is very possible you may be utterly indifferent to her.’
‘If so, at least,’ said Edgar, in a tone and with a countenance whence all elation was flown, ‘she will leave me master of myself; she is too noble to suffer any sordid motives to unite us.’
‘Do not depend upon that; the influence of friends, the prevalence of example, the early notion which every female imbibes, that a good establishment must be her first object in life-these are motives of marriage commonly sufficient for the whole sex.’
‘Her choice, indeed,’ said Edgar, thoughtfully, ‘would not, perhaps, be wholly uninfluenced;–I pretend not to doubt that the voice of her friends would be all in my favour.’
‘Yes,’ interrupted Dr. Marchmont, ‘and, be she noble as she may, Beech Park will be also in your favour! your mansion, your equipage, your domestics, even your table, will be in your favour–’
‘Doctor,’ interrupted Edgar, in his turn, ‘I know you think ill of women.–’
‘Do not let that idea weaken what I urge; I have not had reason to think well of them; yet I believe there are individuals who merit every regard: your Camilla may be one of them. Take, however, this warning from my experience; whatever is her appearance of worth, try and prove its foundation, ere you conclude it invulnerable; and whatever are your pretensions to her hand, do not necessarily connect them with your chances for her heart.’
Mandlebert, filled now with a distrust of himself and of his powers, which he was incapable of harbouring of Camilla and her magnanimity, felt struck to the soul with the apprehension of failing to gain her affection, and wounded in every point both of honour and delicacy, from the bare suggestion of owing his wife to his situation in the world. He found no longer any difficulty in promising not to act with precipitance; his confidence was gone; his elevation of sentiment was depressed; a general mist clouded his prospects, and a suspensive discomfort inquieted his mind. He shook Dr. Marchmont by the hand, and assuring him he would weigh well all he had said, and take no measure till he had again consulted with him, remounted his horse, and slowly walked it back to Cleves.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:51