THE last words of Dr. Marchmont, in taking leave of Edgar, were injunctions to circumspection, and representations of the difficulty of drawing back with honour, if once any incautious eagerness betrayed his partiality. To this counsel he was impelled to submit, lest he should risk for Camilla a report similar to that which for Indiana had given him so much disturbance. There, indeed, he felt himself wholly blameless. His admiration was but such as he always experienced at sight of a beautiful picture, nor had it ever been demonstrated in any more serious manner. He had distinguished her by no particular attention, singled her out by no pointed address, taken no pains to engage her good opinion, and manifested no flattering pleasure at her approach or presence.
His sense of right was too just to mislead him into giving himself similar absolution with respect to Camilla. He had never, indeed, indulged a voluntary vent to his preference; but the candour of his character convinced him that what so forcibly he had felt, he must occasionally have betrayed. Yet the idea excited regret without remorse; for though it had been his wish, as well as intention, to conceal his best hopes, till they were ratified by his judgment, he had the conscious integrity of knowing that, should her heart become his prize, his dearest view in life would be to solicit her hand.
To preserve, therefore, the appearance of an undesigning friend of the house, he had forced himself to refrain, for two days, from any visit to the rectory, whither he was repairing, when thus, unlooked and unwished for, he surprized Camilla at the Grove.
Disappointed and disapproving feelings kept him, while there, aloof from her; by continual suggestions, that her character was of no stability, that Dr. Marchmont was right in his doubts, and Miss Margland herself not wrong in accusing her of caprice; and when he perceived, upon her preparing to walk home with her brother and sister, that Major Cerwood stept forward to attend her, he indignantly resolved to arrange without delay his continental excursion. But again, when, as she quitted the room, he saw her head half turned round, with an eye of enquiry if he followed, he determined frankly, and at once, in his capacity of a friend, to request some explanation of this meeting.
The assiduities of the Major made it difficult to speak to her; but the aid of her desire for a conversation, which was equally anxious, and less guarded then his own, anticipated his principal investigation, by urging her, voluntarily to seize an opportunity of relating to him the history of her first visit to Mrs. Arlbery; and of assuring him that the second was indispensably its consequence.
Softened by this apparent earnestness for his good opinion, all his interest and all his tenderness for her returned; and though much chagrined at the accident, or rather mischief, which had thus established the acquaintance, he had too little to say, whatever he had to feel, of positive weight against it, to propose its now being relinquished. He thanked her impressively for so ready an explanation; and then gently added; ‘I know your predilection in favour of this lady, and I will say nothing to disturb it; but as she is yet new to you, and as all residence, all intercourse, from your own home or relations, is new to you also-tell me, candidly, sincerely tell me, can you condescend to suffer an old friend, though in the person of but a young man, to offer you, from time to time, a hint, a little counsel, a few brief words of occasional advice? and even, perhaps, now and then, to torment you into a little serious reflection?’
‘If you,’ cried she, gaily, ‘will give me the reflection, I promise, to the best of my power, to give you in return, the seriousness; but I can by no means engage for both!’
‘O, never, but from your own prudence,’ he answered, gratefully, ‘may your delightful vivacity know a curb! If now I seem myself to fear it, it is not from moroseness, it is not from insensibility to its charm–’
He was stopt here by Macdersey, who, suddenly overtaking him, entreated an immediate short conference upon a matter of moment.
Though cruelly vexed by the interruption, he could not refuse to turn back with him; and Camilla again was left wholly to the gallant Major; but her heart felt so light that she had thus cleared herself to Edgar, so gratified by his request to become himself her monitor, and so enchanted to find her acquaintance with Mrs. Arlbery no longer disputed, that she was too happy to admit any vexation; and the Major had never thought her so charming, though of the Major she thought not one moment.
Macdersey, with a long, ceremonious, and not very clear apology, confessed he had called Mandlebert aside only to enquire into the certain truth, if it were not a positive secret, of his intended nuptials with the beautiful Miss Lynmere. Mandlebert, with surprize, but without any hesitation, declared himself wholly without any pretensions to that lady. Macdersey then embraced him, and they parted mutually satisfied.
It seemed now too late to Mandlebert to go to Etherington till the next day, whither, as soon as he had breakfasted, he then rode.
According to his general custom, he went immediately to the study, where he met with a calm, but kind reception from Mr. Tyrold; and after half an hour’s conversation, upon Lisbon, Dr. Marchmont, and Mrs. Tyrold, he left him to seek his young friends.
In the parlour, he found Lavinia alone; but before he could enquire for her sister, who was accidentally up stairs, Lionel, just dismounted from his horse, appeared.
‘O, ho, Edgar!’ cried he, ‘you are here, are you? this would make fine confusion, if that beauty of nature, Miss Margland, should happen to call. They’ve just sent for you to Beech Park. I don’t know what’s to be done to you; but if you have an inclination to save poor Camilla’s eyes, or cap, at least, from that meek, tender creature, you’ll set off for Cleves before they know you are in this house.’
Edgar amazed, desired an explanation; but he protested the wrath of Miss Margland had been so comical, and given him so much diversion, that he had not been able to get at any particulars; he only knew there was a great commotion, and that Edgar was declared in love with some of his sisters or cousins, and Miss Margland was in a rage that it was not with herself; and that, in short, because he only happened to drop a hint of the latter notion, that delectable paragon had given him so violent a blow with her fine eyes, that in order to vent an ungovernable fit of laughter, without the risk of having the house pulled about his ears, he had hastily mounted his horse, and galloped off.
The contempt of Edgar for Miss Margland would have made him disdain another question, if the name of Camilla had not been mingled in this relation; no question, however, could procure further information. Lionel, enchanted that he had tormented Miss Margland, understood nothing more of the matter, and could only repeat his own merry sayings, and their effect.
Lavinia expressed, most innocently, her curiosity to know what this meant; and was going for Camilla, to assist in some conjecture; but Edgar, who by this strange story had lost his composure, felt unequal to hearing it discussed in her presence, and, pleading sudden haste, rode away.
He did not, however, go to Cleves; he hardly knew if Lionel had not amused him with a feigned story; but he no sooner arrived at Beech Park, then he found a message from Sir Hugh, begging to see him with all speed.
The young Ensign was the cause of this present summons and disturbance. Elated by the declaration of Mandlebert, that the rumour of his contract was void of foundation, and buoyed up by Mrs. Arlbery, to whom he returned with the communication, he resolved to make his advances in form. He presented himself, therefore, at Cleves, where he asked an audience of Sir Hugh, and at once, with his accustomed vehemence, declared himself bound eternally, life and soul, to his fair niece, Miss Lynmere; and desired that, in order to pay his addresses to her, he might be permitted to see her at odd times, when he was off duty.
Sir Hugh was scarce able to understand him, from his volubility, and the extravagance of his phrases and gestures; but he imputed them to his violent passion, and therefore answered him with great gentleness, assuring him he did not mean to doubt his being a proper alliance for his niece, though he had never heard of him before; but begging he would not be affronted if he could not accept him, not knowing yet quite clearly if she were not engaged to a young gentleman in the neighbourhood.
The Ensign now loudly proclaimed his own news: Mandlebert had protested himself free, and the whole county already rang with the mistake.
Sir Hugh, who always at a loss how to say no, thought this would have been a good answer, now sent for Miss Margland, and desired her to speak herself with the young gentleman.
Miss Margland, much gratified, asked Macdersey if she could look at his rent roll.
He had nothing of the kind at hand, he said, not being yet come to his estate, which was in Ireland, and was still the property of a first cousin, who was not yet dead.
Miss Margland, promising he should have an answer in a few days, then dismissed him; but more irritated than ever against Mandlebert, from the contrast of his power to make settlements, she burst forth into her old declarations of his ill usage of Miss Lynmere; attributing it wholly to the contrivances of Camilla, whom she had herself, she said, surprized wheedling Edgar into her snares, when she called last at Etherington; and who, she doubted not, they should soon hear was going to be married to him.
Sir Hugh always understood literally whatever was said; these assertions therefore of ill humour, merely made to vent black bile affected him deeply for the honour and welfare of Camilla, and he hastily sent a messenger for Edgar, determining to beg, if that were the case, he would openly own the whole, and not leave all the blame to fall all upon his poor niece.
At this period, Lionel had called, and, by inflaming Miss Margland, had aggravated the general disturbance.
When Edgar arrived, Sir Hugh told him of the affair, assuring him he should never have taken amiss his preferring Camilla, which he thought but natural, if he had only done it from the first.
Edgar, though easily through all this he saw the malignant yet shallow offices of Miss Margland, found himself, with infinite vexation, compelled to declare off equally from both the charges; conscious, that till the very moment of his proposals, he must appear to have no preference nor designs. He spoke, therefore, with the utmost respect of the young ladies, but again said it was uncertain if he should not travel before he formed any establishment.
The business thus explicitly decided, nothing more could be done: but Miss Margland was somewhat appeased, when she heard that her pupil was not so disgracefully to be supplanted.
Indiana herself, to whom Edgar had never seemed agreeable, soon forgot she had ever thought of him; and elated by the acquisition of a new lover, doubted not, but, in a short time, the publication of her liberty would prove slavery to all mankind.
Early the next morning, the carriage of Sir Hugh arrived at the rectory for Camilla. She never refused an invitation from her uncle, but she felt so little equal to passing a whole day in the presence of Miss Margland, after the unaccountable, yet alarming relation she had gathered from Lionel, that she entreated him to accompany her, and to manage that she should return with him as soon as the horses were fed and rested.
Lionel, ever good humoured, and ready to oblige, willingly complied; but demanded that she should go with him, in their way back, to see a new house which he wanted to examine.
Sir Hugh received her with his usual affection, Indiana with indifference, and Miss Margland with a malicious smile: but Eugenia, soon taking her aside, disclosed to her that Edgar, the day before, had publicly and openly disclaimed any views upon Indiana, and had declared himself without any passion whatever, and free from all inclination or intention but to travel.
The blush of pleasure, with which Camilla heard the first sentence of this speech, became the tingle of shame at the second, and whitened into surprise and sorrow at the last.
Eugenia, though she saw some disturbance, understood not these changes. Early absorbed in the study of literature and languages, under the direction of a preceptor who had never mingled with the world, her capacity had been occupied in constant work for her memory; but her judgment and penetration had been wholly unexercised. Like her uncle, she concluded every body, and every thing to be precisely what they appeared; and though, in that given point of view, she had keener intellects to discern, and more skill to appreciate persons and characters, she was as unpractised as himself in those discriminative powers, which dive into their own conceptions to discover the latent springs, the multifarious and contradictory sources of human actions and propensities.
Upon their return to the company, Miss Margland chose to relate the history herself. Mr. Mandlebert, she said, had not only thought proper to acknowledge his utter insensibility to Miss Lynmere, but had declared his indifference for every woman under the sun, and protested he held them all cheap alike. ‘So I would advise nobody,’ she continued, ‘to flatter themselves with making a conquest of him, for they may take my word for it, he won’t be caught very easily.’
Camilla disdained to understand this but in a general sense, and made no answer. Indiana, pouting her lip, said she was sure she did not want to catch him: she did not fear having offers enough without him, if she should happen to chuse to marry.
‘Certainly,’ said Miss Margland, ‘there’s no doubt of that; and this young officer’s coming the very moment he heard of your being at liberty, is a proof that the only reason of your having had no more proposals, is owing to Mr. Mandlebert. So I don’t speak for you, but for any body else, that may suppose they may please the difficult gentleman better.’
Camilla now breathed hard with resentment; but still was silent, and Indiana, answering only for herself, said: ‘O, yes! I can’t say I’m much frightened. I dare say if Mr. Melmond had known, . . . but he thought like everybody else . . . however, I’m sure, I’m very glad of it, only I wish he had spoke a little sooner, for I suppose Mr. Melmond thinks me as much out of his reach as if I was married. Not that I care about it; only it’s provoking.’
‘No, my dear,’ said Miss Margland, ‘it would be quite below your dignity to think about him, without knowing better who he is, or what are his expectations and connexions. As to this young officer, I shall take proper care to make enquiries, before he has his answer. He belongs to a very good family; for he’s related to Lord O’Lerney, and I have friends in Ireland who can acquaint me with his situation and fortune. There’s time enough to look about you; only as Mr. Mandlebert has behaved so unhandsomely, I hope none of the family will give him their countenance. I am sure it will be to no purpose, if any body should think of doing it by way of having any design upon him. It will be lost labour, I can tell them.’
‘As to that, I am quite easy,’ said Indiana, tossing her head, ‘any body is welcome to him for me;-my cousin, or any body else.’
Camilla, now, absolutely called upon to speak, with all the spirit she could assume, said, ‘With regard to me, there is no occasion to remind me how much I am out of the question; yet suffer me to say, respect for myself would secure me from forming such plans as you surmise, if no other sense of propriety could save me from such humiliation.’
‘Now, my dear, you speak properly,’ said Miss Margland, taking her hand; ‘and I hope you will have the spirit to shew him you care no more for him than he cares for you.’
‘I hope so too,’ answered Camilla, turning pale; ‘but I don’t suppose–I can’t imagine-that it is very likely he should have mentioned anything good or bad-with regard to his care for me?’
This was painfully uttered, but from a curiosity irrepressible.
‘As to that, my dear, don’t deceive yourself; for the question was put home to him very properly, that you might know what you had to expect, and not keep off other engagements from a false notion.’
‘This indeed,’ said Camilla, colouring with indignation, ‘this has been a most useless, a most causeless enquiry!’
‘I am very glad you treat the matter as it deserves, for I like to see young ladies behave with dignity.’
‘And pray, then, what-was there any-did he make-was there any-any answer-to this-to–’
‘O, yes, he answered without any great ceremony, I can assure you! He said, in so many words, that he thought no more of you than of our cousin, and was going abroad to divert and amuse himself, better than by entering into marriage, with either one or other of you; or with any body else.’
Camilla felt half killed by this answer; and presently quitting the room, ran out into the garden, and to a walk far from the house, before she had power to breathe, or recollection to be aware of the sensibility she was betraying.
She then as hastily went back, secretly resolving never more to think of him, and to shew both to himself and to the world, by every means in her power, her perfect indifference.
She could not, however, endure to encounter Miss Margland again, but called for Lionel, and begged him to hurry the coachman.
Lionel complied-she took a hasty leave of her uncle, and only saying, ‘Good by, good by!’ to the rest, made her escape.
Sir Hugh, ever unsuspicious, thought her merely afraid to detain her brother; but Eugenia, calm, affectionate, and divested of cares for herself, saw evidently that something was wrong, though she divined not what, and entreated leave to go with her sister to Etherington, and thence return, without keeping out the horses.
Sir Hugh was well pleased, and the two sisters and Lionel set off together.
THE presence of Lionel stifled the enquiries of Eugenia; and pride, all up in arms, absorbed every softer feeling in Camilla.
When they had driven half a mile, ‘Now, young ladies,’ said he, ‘I shall treat you with a frolic.’ He then stopt the carriage, and told the coachman to drive to Cornfield; saying, ’Tis but two miles about, and Coachy won’t mind that; will you Coachy?’
The coachman, looking forward to half a crown, said his horses would be all the better for a little more exercise; and Jacob, familiarly fond of Lionel from a boy, made no difficulty.
Lionel desired his sisters to ask no questions, assuring them he had great designs, and a most agreeable surprise in view for them.
In pursuance of his directions, they drove on till they came before a small house, just new fronted with deep red bricks, containing, on the ground floor, two little bow windows, in a sharp triangular form, enclosing a door ornamented with small panes of glass, cut in various shapes; on the first story, a little balcony, decorated in the middle and at each corner with leaden images of Cupids; and, in the attic story, a very small venetian window, partly formed with minute panes of glass, and partly with glazed tiles; representing, in blue and white, various devices of dogs and cats, mice and birds, rats and ferrets, as emblems of the conjugal state.
‘Well, young ladies, what say you to this?’ cried he, ‘does it hit your fancy? If it does, ’tis your own!’
Eugenia asked what he meant.
‘Mean? to make a present of it to which ever is the best girl, and can first cry bo! to a goose. Come, don’t look disdainfully. Eugenia, what say you? won’t it be better to be mistress of this little neat, tight, snug box, and a pretty little tidy husband, that belongs to it, than to pore all day long over a Latin theme with old Dr. Orkborne? I have often thought my poor uncle was certainly out of his wits, when he set us all, men, women, and children, to learn Latin, or else be whipt by the old doctor. But we all soon got our necks out of the collar, except poor Eugenia, and she’s had to work for us all. However, here’s an opportunity-see but what a pretty place-not quite finished, to be sure, but look at that lake? how cool, how rural, how refreshing!’
‘Lake?’ repeated Eugenia, ‘I see nothing but a very dirty little pond, with a mass of rubbish in the middle. Indeed I see nothing else but rubbish all round, and every where.’
‘That’s the very beauty of the thing, my dear; it’s all in the exact state for being finished under your own eye, and according to your own taste.’
‘To whom does it belong?’
‘It’s uninhabited yet; but it’s preparing for a very spruce young spark, that I advise you both to set your caps at. Hold! I see somebody peeping; I’ll go and get some news for you.’
He then jumped from the coach, and ran up five deep narrow steps, formed of single large rough stones, which mounted so much above the threshold of the house, that upon opening the door, there appeared a stool to assist all comers to reach the floor of the passage.
Eugenia, with some curiosity, looked out, and saw her brother, after nearly forcing his entrance, speak to a very mean little man, dressed in old dirty cloaths, who seemed willing to hide himself behind the door, but whom he almost dragged forward, saying aloud, ‘O, I can take no excuse, I insist upon your shewing the house. I have brought two young ladies on purpose to see it; and who knows but one of them may take a fancy to it, and make you a happy man for life.’
‘As to that, sir,’ said the man, still endeavouring to retreat, ‘I can’t say as I’ve quite made my mind up yet as to the marriage ceremony. I’ve known partly enough of the state already; but if ever I marry again, which is a moot point, I sha’n’t do it hand over head, like a boy, without knowing what I’m about. However, it’s time enough o’conscience to think of that, when my house is done, and my workmen is off my hands.’
Camilla now, by the language and the voice, gathered that this was Mr. Dubster.
‘Pho, pho,’ answered Lionel, ‘you must not be so hard-hearted when fair ladies are in the case. Besides, one of them is that pretty girl you flirted with at Northwick. She’s a sister of mine, and I shall take it very ill if you don’t hand her out of the coach, and do the honours of your place to her.’
Camilla, much provoked, earnestly called to her brother, but utterly in vain.
‘Lauk-a-day! why it is not half finished,’ said Mr. Dubster; ‘nor a quarter neither: and as to that young lady, I can’t say as it was much in my mind to be over civil to her any more, begging pardon, after her giving me the slip in that manner. I can’t say as I think it was over and above handsome, letting me get my gloves. Not that I mind it in the least, as to that.’
‘Pho, pho, man, you must never bear malice against a fair lady. Besides, she’s come now on purpose to make her excuses.’
‘O, that’s another thing; if the young lady’s sorry, I sha’n’t think of holding out. Besides, I can’t say but what I thought her agreeable enough, if it had not been for her behaving so comical just at the last. Not that I mean in the least to make any complaint, by way of getting of the young lady scolded.’
‘You must make friends now, man, and think no more of it;’ cried Lionel, who would have drawn him to the carriage; but he protested he was quite ashamed to be seen in such a dishabille, and should go first and dress himself. Lionel, on the contrary, declaring nothing so manly, nor so becoming, as a neglect of outward appearance, pulled him to the coach door, notwithstanding all his efforts to disengage himself, and the most bashful distortions with which he strove to sneak behind his conductor.
‘Ladies,’ said he, ‘Mr. Dubster desires to have the honour of walking over his house and grounds with you.’
Camilla declared she had no time to alight; but Lionel insisted, and soon forced them both from the coach.
Mr. Dubster, no longer stiff, starched, and proud, as when full dressed, was sunk into the smallest insignificance; and when they were compelled to enter his grounds, through a small Chinese gate, painted of a deep blue, would entirely have kept out of sight; but for a whisper from Lionel, that the ladies had owned they thought he looked to particular advantage in that careless attire.
Encouraged by this, he came boldly forward, and suddenly facing them, made a low bow saying: ‘Young ladies, your humble.’
They courtsied slightly, and Camilla said she was very sorry to break in upon him.
‘O, it don’t much matter,’ cried he, extremely pleased by this civility, ‘I only hope, young ladies, you won’t take umbrage at my receiving you in this pickle; but you’ve popt upon me unawares, as one may say. And my best coat is at this very minute at Tom Hicks’s, nicely packed and papered up, and tied all round, in a drawer of his, up stairs, in his room. And I’d have gone for it with the greatest pleasure in life, to shew my respect, if the young gentleman would have let me.’
And then, recollecting Eugenia, ‘Good lauk, ma’am,’ said he, in a low voice to Camilla, ‘that’s that same lame little lady as I saw at the ball?’
‘That lady, sir,’ answered she, provoked, ‘is my sister.’
‘Mercy’s me!’ exclaimed he, lifting up his hands, ‘I wish I’d known as much at the time. I’m sure, ma’am, if I’d thought the young lady was any ways related to you, I would not have said a word disrespectful upon no account.’
Lionel asked how long he had had this place.
‘Only a little while. I happened of it quite lucky. A friend of mine was just being turned out of it, in default of payment, and so I got it a bargain. I intend to fit it up a little in taste, and then, whether I like it or no, I can always let it.’
They were now, by Lionel, dragged into the house, which was yet unfurnished, half papered, and half white washed. The workmen, Mr. Dubster said, were just gone to dinner, and he rejoiced that they had happened to come so conveniently, when he should be no loser by leaving the men to themselves, in order to oblige the young ladies with his company.
He insisted upon shewing them not only every room, but every closet, every cupboard, every nook, corner, and hiding place; praising their utility, and enumerating all their possible appropriations, with the most minute encomiums.
‘But I’m quite sorry,’ cried he, ‘young ladies, to think as I’ve nothing to offer you. I eats my dinner always at the Globe, having nobody here to cook. However I’d have had a morsel of cake or so, if the young gentleman had been so kind as to give me an item beforehand of your intending me the favour. But as to getting things into the house hap hazard, really everything is so dear-it’s quite out of reason.’
The scampering of horses now carrying them to a window, they saw some hounds in full cry, followed by horse-men in full gallop. Lionel declared he would borrow Jacob’s mare, and join them, while his sisters walked about the grounds: but Camilla, taking him aside, made a serious expostulation, protesting that her father, with all his indulgence, and even her uncle himself, would be certainly displeased, if he left them alone with this man; of whom they knew nothing but his very low trade.
‘Why what is his trade?’
‘A tinker’s: Mrs. Arlbery told me so.’
He laughed violently at this information, protesting he was rejoiced to find so much money could be made by the tinkering business, which he was determined to follow in his next distress for cash: yet added, he feared this was only the malice of Mrs. Arlbery, for Dubster, he had been told, had kept a shop for ready made wigs.
He gave up, however, his project, forgetting the chace when he no longer heard the hounds, and desired Mr. Dubster to proceed in shewing his lions?
‘Lauk a day! sir, I’ve got no lions, nor tygers neither. It’s a deal of expence keeping them animals; and though I know they reckon me near, I sha’n’t do no such thing; for if a man does not take a little care of his money when once he has got it, especially if it’s honestly, I think he’s a fool for his pains; begging pardon for speaking my mind so freely.’
He then led them again to the front of the house, where he desired they would look at his pond. ‘This,’ said he, ‘is what I value the most of all, except my summer house and my labyrinth. I shall stock it well; and many a good dinner I hope to eat from it. It gets me an appetite, sometimes, I think, only to look at it.’
“Tis a beautiful piece of water,’ said Lionel, ‘and may be useful to the outside as well as the inside, for, if you go in head foremost, you may bathe as well as feed from it.’
‘No, I sha’n’t do that, sir, I’m not over and above fond of water at best. However, I shall have a swan.’
‘A swan? why sure you won’t be contented with only one?’
‘O yes, I shall. It will only be made of wood, painted over in white. There’s no end of feeding them things if one has ’em alive. Besides it will look just as pretty; and won’t bite. And I know a friend of mine that one of them creatures flew at and gave him such a bang as almost broke his leg, only for throwing a stone at it, out of mere play. They are mortal spiteful, if you happen to hurt them when you’re in their reach.’
He then begged them to go over to his island, which proved to be what Eugenia had taken for a mass of rubbish. They would fain have been excused crossing a plank which he called a bridge, but Lionel would not be denied.
‘Now here,’ said he, ‘when my island’s finished, I shall have something these young ladies will like; and that’s a lamb.’
‘Alive, or dead?’ cried Lionel.
‘Alive,’ he replied, ‘for I shall have good pasture in a little bit of ground just by, where I shall keep me a cow; and here will be grass enough upon my island to keep it from starving on Sundays, and for now and then, when I’ve somebody come to see me. And when it’s fit for killing, I can change it with the farmer down the lane, for another young one, by a bargain I’ve agreed with him for already; for I don’t love to run no risks about a thing for mere pleasure.’
‘Your place will be quite a paradise,’ said Lionel.
‘Why, indeed, sir, I think I’ve earned having a little recreeting, for I worked hard enough for it, before I happened of meeting with my first wife.’
‘O, ho! so you began with marrying a fortune?’
‘Yes, sir, and very pretty she was too, if she had not been so puny. But she was always ailing. She cost me a mort of money to the potecary before she went off. And she was a tedious while a dying, poor soul!’
‘Your first wife? surely you have not been twice married already?’
‘Yes, I have. My second wife brought me a very pretty fortune too. I can’t say but I’ve rather had the luck of it, as far as I’ve gone yet awhile.’
They now repassed the plank, and were conducted to an angle, in which a bench was placed close to the chinese rails, which was somewhat shaded by a willow, that grew in a little piece of stagnant water on the other side. A syringa was planted in front, and a broom-tree on the right united it with the willow; in the middle there was a deal table.
‘Now, young ladies,’ said Mr. Dubster, ‘if you have a taste to breathe a little fresh country air, here’s where I advise you to take your rest. When I come to this place first, my arbour, as I call this, had no look out, but just to the fields, so I cut away them lilacs, and now there’s a good pretty look out. And it’s a thing not to be believed what a sight of people and coaches, and gentlemen’s whiskeys and stages, and flys, and wagons, and all sorts of things as ever you can think of, goes by all day long. I often think people’s got but little to do at home.’
Next, he desired to lead them to his grotto, which he said was but just begun. It was, indeed, as yet, nothing but a little square hole, dug into a chalky soil, down into which, no steps being yet made, he slid as well as he could, to the no small whitening of his old brown coat, which already was thread bare.
He begged the ladies to follow, that he might shew them the devices he had marked out with his own hand, and from his own head, for fitting up the inside. Lionel would not suffer his sisters to refuse compliance, though Mr. Dubster himself cautioned them to come carefully, ‘in particular,’ he said, ‘the little lady, as she has happened of an ugly accident already, as I judge, in one of her hips, and ’twould be pity, at her time of life, if she should happen of another at t’other side.’
Eugenia, not aware this misfortune was so glaring, felt much hurt by this speech; and Camilla, very angry with its speaker, sought to silence him by a resentful look; but not observing it; ‘Pray, ma’am,’ he continued, ‘was it a fall? or was you born so?’
Eugenia looked struck and surprized; and Camilla hastily whispered it was a fall, and bid him say no more about it; but, not understanding her, ‘I take it, then,’ he said, ‘that was what stinted your growth so, Miss? for, I take it, you’re not much above the dwarf as they shew at Exeter Change? Much of a muchness, I guess. Did you ever see him, ma’am?’
‘It would be a good sight enough to see you together. He’d think himself a man in a minute. You must have had the small pox mortal bad, ma’am. I suppose you’d the conflint sort?’
Camilla here, without waiting for help, slid down into the intended grotto, and asked a thousand questions to change the subject; while Eugenia, much disconcerted, slowly followed, aided by Lionel.
Mr. Dubster then displayed the ingenious intermixture of circles and diamonds projected for the embellishment of his grotto; the first of which were to be formed with cockle-shells, which he meant to colour with blue paint; and the second he proposed shaping with bits of shining black coal. The spaces between would each have an oyster-shell in the middle, and here and there he designed to leave the chalk to itself, which would always, he observed, make the grotto light and cheary. Shells he said, unluckily, he did not happen to have; but as he had thoughts of taking a little pleasure some summer at Brighthelmstone or Margate, for he intended to see all those places, he should make a collection then; being told he might have as curious shells, and pebbles too, as a man could wish to look at, only for the trouble of picking them up off the shore.
They next went to what he called his labyrinth, which was a little walk he was cutting, zig-zag, through some brushwood, so low that no person above three foot height could be hid by it. Every step they took here, cost a rent to some lace or some muslin of one of the sisters; which Mr. Dubster observed with a delight he could not conceal; saying this was a true country walk, and would do them both a great deal of good; and adding: ‘we that live in town, would give our ears for such a thing as this.’ And though they could never proceed a yard at a time, from the continual necessity of disentangling their dress from thorns and briars, he exultingly boasted that he should give them a good appetite for their dinner; and asked if this rural ramble did not make them begin to feel hungry. ‘For my part,’ continued he, ‘if once I get settled a bit, I shall take a turn in this zig-zag every day before dinner, which may save me my five grains of rhubarb, that the doctor ordered me for my stomach, since my having my illness, which come upon me almost as soon as I was a gentleman; from change of life, I believe, for I never knew no other reason; and none of the doctors could tell me nothing about it. But a man that’s had a deal to do, feels quite unked at first, when he’s only got to look and stare about him, and just walk from one room to another, without no employment.’
Lionel said he hoped, at least, he would not require his rhubarb to get down his dinner to day.
‘I hope so too, ‘squire,’ answered he, licking his lips, ‘for I’ve ordered a pretty good one, I can tell you; beef steaks and onions; and I don’t know what’s better. Tom Hicks is to dine with me at the Globe, as soon as I’ve give my workmen their tasks, and seen after a young lad that’s to do me a job there, by my grotto. Tom Hicks is a very good fellow; I like him best of any acquaintance I’ve made in these here parts. Indeed, I’ve made no other, on account of the unconvenience of dressing, while I’m so much about with my workmen. So I keep pretty incog from the genteel; and Tom does well enough in the interim.’
He then requested them to make haste to his summer-house, because his workmen would be soon returned, and he could not then spare a moment longer, without spoiling his own dinner.
‘My summer-house,’ said he, ‘is not above half complete yet; but it will be very pretty when it’s done. Only I’ve got no stairs yet to it; but there’s a very good ladder, if the ladies a’n’t afraid.
The ladies both desired to be excused mounting; but Lionel protested he would not have his friend affronted; and as neither of them were in the habit of resisting him, nor of investigating with seriousness any thing that he proposed, they were soon teized into acquiescence, and he assisted them to ascend.
Mr. Dubster followed.
The summer-house was, as yet, no more than a shell; without windows, scarcely roofed, and composed of lath and plaister, not half dry. It looked on to the high road, and Mr. Dubster assured them, that, on market days, the people passed so thick, there was no seeing them for the dust. Here they had soon cause to repent their facility,-that dangerous, yet venial, because natural fault of youth;-for hardly had they entered this place, ere a distant glimpse of a fleet stag, and a party of sportsmen, incited Lionel to scamper down; and calling out: ‘I shall be back presently,’ he made off towards the house, dragging the ladder after him.
The sisters eagerly and almost angrily remonstrated; but to no purpose; and while they were still entreating him to return and supposing him, though out of sight, within hearing, they suddenly perceived him passing the window by the high road, on horse-back, switch in hand, and looking in the utmost glee. ‘I have borrowed Jacob’s mare,’ he cried, ‘for just half an hour’s sport, and sent Jacob and Coachy to get a little refreshment at the next public house; but don’t be impatient; I shan’t be long.’
Off then, he galloped, laughing; in defiance of the serious entreaties of his sisters, and without staying to hear even one sentence of the formal exhortations of Mr. Dubster.
THE two young ladies and Mr. Dubster, left thus together, and so situated that separation without assistance was impossible, looked at one another for some time in nearly equal dismay; and then Mr. Dubster, with much displeasure, exclaimed–‘Them young gentlemen are as full of mischief, as an egg’s full of meat! Who’d have thought of a person’s going to do such a thing as this?-it’s mortal unconvenent, making me leave my workmen at this rate; for I dare say they’re come, or, coming, by this time. I wish I’d tied the ladder to this here rafter.’
The sisters, though equally provoked, thought it necessary to make some apology for the wild behaviour of their brother.
‘O young ladies,’ said he, formally waving his hand by way of a bow, ‘I don’t in the least mean to blame you about it, for you’re very welcome to stay as long as it’s agreeable; only I hope he’ll come back by my dinner time; for a cold beef-steak is one or other the worst morsel I know.’
He then kept an unremitting watch from one window to another, for some passenger from whom he could claim aid; but, much as he had boasted of the numbers perpetually in sight, he now dolorously confessed, that, sometimes, not a soul came near the place for half a day together: ‘And, as to my workmen,’ continued he, ‘the deuce can’t make ’em hear if once they begin their knocking and hammering.’
And then, with a smirk at the idea, he added–‘I’ll tell you what; I’d best give a good squall at once, and then if they are come I may catch ’em; in the proviso you won’t mind it, young ladies.’
This scheme was put immediately into practice; but though the sisters were obliged to stop their ears from his vociferation, it answered no purpose.
‘Well I’ll bet you what you will,’ cried he, ‘they are all deaf: however, it’s as well as it is, for if they was to come, and see me hoisted up in this cage, like, they’d only make a joke of it; and then they’d mind me no more than a pin never again. It’s surprising how them young gentlemen never think of nothing. If he’d served me so when I was a ‘prentice, he’d have paid pretty dear for his frolic; master would have charged him half a day’s work, as sure as a gun.’
Soon after, while looking out of the window, ‘I do think,’ he exclaimed, ‘I see somebody!–It shall go hard but what I’ll make ’em come to us.’
He then shouted with great violence; but the person crossed a stile into a field, without seeing or hearing him.
This provoked him very seriously; and turning to Camilla, rather indignantly, he said–‘Really, ma’am, I wish you’d tell your brother, I should take it as a favour he’d never serve me o’ this manner no more!’
She hoped, she said, he would in future be more considerate.
‘It’s a great hindrance to business, ma’am, such things; and it’s a sheer love of mischief, too, begging pardon, for it’s of no manner of use to him, no more than it is to us.’
He then desired, that if any body should pass by again, they might all squall out at once; saying, it was odds, then, but they might be heard.
‘Not that it’s over agreeable, at the best,’ added he; ‘for if one was to stop any poor person, and make ’em come round, and look for the ladder, one could not be off giving them something: and as to any of the gentlefolks, one might beg and pray as long as one would before they’d stir a step for one: and as to any of one’s acquaintance, if they was to go by, it’s ten to one but they’d only fall a laughing. People’s generally ill-natured when they sees one in jeopardy.’
Eugenia, already thoughtful and discomposed, now grew uneasy, lest her uncle should be surprised at her long absence; this a little appeased Mr. Dubster, who, with less resentment, said–‘So I see, then, we’re all in the same quandary! However, don’t mind it, young ladies; you can have no great matters to do with your time, I take it; so it does not so much signify. But a man’s quite different. He looks like a fool, as one may say, poked up in such a place as this, to be stared at by all comers and goers; only nobody happens to pass by.’
His lamentations now were happily interrupted by the appearance of three women and a boy, who, with baskets on their heads, were returning from the next market town. With infinite satisfaction, he prepared to assail them, saying, he should now have some chance to get a bit of dinner: and assuring the ladies, that if they should like a little scrap for a relish, he should be very willing to send ’em it by their footman; ‘For it’s a long while,’ said he, ‘young ladies, to be fasting, that’s the truth of it.’
The market women now approached, and were most clamourously hailed, before their own loud discourse, and the singing and whistling of the boy, permitted their hearing the appeal.
‘Pray, will you be so kind,’ said Mr. Dubster, when he had made them stop, ‘as to step round by the house, and see if you can see the workmen; and if you can, tell ’em a young gentleman, as come here while they was at dinner, has taken away the ladder, and left us stuck up here in the lurch.’
The women all laughed, and said it was a good merry trick; but were preparing to follow his directions, when Mr. Dubster called after the boy, who loitered behind, with an encouraging nod: ‘If you’ll bring the ladder with you upon your shoulders, my lad, I’ll give you a half-penny!’
The boy was well contented; but the women, a little alarmed, turned back and said–‘And what will you give to us, master?’ ‘Give?’ repeated he, a little embarrassed; ‘why, I’ll give-why I’ll thank you kindly; and it won’t be much out of your way, for the house is only round there.’
‘You’ll thank us kindly, will you?’ said one of the women; ‘it’s like you may! But what will you do over and above?’
‘Do? why it’s no great matter, just to stop at the house as you go by, and tell ’em–’
Here Eugenia whispered she would herself satisfy them, and begged he would let them make their own terms.
‘No, Miss, no; I don’t like to see nobody’s money fooled away, no more than my own. However, as you are so generous, I’ll agree with ’em, to give ’em a pot of beer.’
He then, with some parade, made this concession; but said, he must see the ladder, before the money should be laid down.
‘A pot of beer for four!-a pot of beer for four!’ they all exclaimed in a breath; and down everyone put her basket, and set her arms a-kembo, unanimously declaring, they would shame him for such stinginess.
The most violent abuse now followed, the boy imitating them, and every other sentence concluding with–‘A pot of beer for four-ha!’
Camilla and Eugenia, both frightened, besought that they might have any thing, and every thing, that could appease them; but Mr. Dubster was inflexible not to submit to imposition, because of a few foul words; ‘For, dear heart,’ said he, ‘what harm will they do us!-they an’t of no consequence.’
Then, addressing them again, ‘As to four,’ he cried, ‘that’s one over the bargain, for I did not reckon the boy for nothing.’
‘You didn’t, didn’t you?’ cried the boy; ‘i’cod, I hope I’m as good as you, any day in the year!’
‘You’ll thank us kindly, will you?’ said one of the women; ‘I’fackens, and so you shall, when we’re fools enough to sarve you!–A pot of beer for four!’
‘We help you down!-we get you a ladder!’ cried another; ‘yes, forsooth, it’s like we may!-no, stay where you are like a toad in a hole as you be!’
Camilla and Eugenia now, tired of vain application to Mr. Dubster, who heard all this abuse with the most sedate unconcern, advanced themselves to the window; and Eugenia, ever foremost where money was to be given, began–‘Good women–’ when, with a violent loud shout, they called out–‘What! are you all in Hob’s pound? Well, they as will may let you out for we; so I wish you a merry time of it!’
Eugenia began again her–‘Good women–’ when the boy exclaimed–‘What were you put up there for, Miss? to frighten the crows?’
Eugenia, not understanding him, was once more re-commencing; but the first woman said–‘I suppose you think we’ll sarve you for looking at?-no need to be paid?’
‘Yes, yes,’ cried the second, ‘Miss may go to market with her beauty; she’ll not want for nothing if she’ll shew her pretty face!’
‘She need not be afeard of it, however,’ said the third, ‘for ’twill never be no worse. Only take care, Miss, you don’t catch the small pox!’
‘O fegs, that would be pity!’ cried the boy, ‘for fear Miss should be marked.’
Eugenia, astonished and confounded, made no farther attempt; but Camilla, though at that moment she could have inflicted any punishment upon such unprovoked assailants, affected to give but little weight to what they said, and gently drew her away.
‘Hoity, toity!’ cried one of the women, as she moved off, ‘why, Miss, do you walk upon your knees?’
‘Why my Poll would make two of her,’ said another, ‘though she’s only nine years old.’
‘She won’t take much for cloaths,’ cried another, ‘that’s one good thing.’
‘I’d answer to make her a gown out of my apron,’ said the third.
‘Your apron?’ cried another, ‘your pocket handkerchief you mean!-why she’d be lost in your apron, and you might look half an hour before you’d find her.’
Eugenia, to whom such language was utterly new, was now in such visible consternation, that Camilla, affrighted, earnestly charged Dubster to find any means, either of menace or of reward, to make them depart.
‘Lauk, don’t mind them, ma’am,’ cried he, following Eugenia, ‘they can’t do you no hurt; though they are rather rude, I must needs confess the truth, to say such things to your face. But one must not expect people to be over polite, so far from London. However, I see the sporting gentry coming round, over that way, yonder; and I warrant they’ll gallop ’em off. Hark’ee, Mistresses! Them gentlemen that are coming here, shall take you before the justice, for affronting Sir Hugh’s Tyrold’s Heiresses to all his fortunes.’
The women, to whom the name and generous deeds of Sir Hugh Tyrold were familiar, were now quieted and dismayed. They offered some aukward apologies, of not guessing such young ladies could be posted up in such a place; and hoped it would be no detriment to them at the ensuing Christmas, when the good Baronet gave away beef and beer; but Mr. Dubster pompously ordered them to make off, saying, he would not accept the ladder from them now, for the gentry that were coming would get it for nothing. ‘So troop off,’ cried he; ‘and as for you,’ to the boy, ‘you shall have your jacket well trimmed, I promise you: I know who you are, well enough; and I’ll tell your master of you, as sure as you’re alive.’
Away then, with complete though not well-principled repentance, they all marched.
Mr. Dubster, turning round with exultation, cried–‘I only said that to frighten them, for I never see ’em before, as I know of. But I don’t mind ’em of a rush; and I hope you don’t neither. Though I can’t pretend it’s over agreeable being made fun of. If I see anybody snigger at me, I always ask ’em what it’s for; for I’d as lieve they’d let it alone.’
Eugenia, who, as there was no seat, had sunk upon the floor for rest and for refuge, remained silent, and seemed almost petrified; while Camilla, affectionately leaning over her, began talking upon other subjects, in hopes to dissipate a shock she was ashamed to console.
She made no reply, no comment; but, sighed deeply.
‘Lauk!’ cried Mr. Dubster, ‘what’s the matter with the young lady! I hope she don’t go for to take to heart what them old women says? she’ll be never the worse to look at, because of their impudence. Besides, fretting does no good to nothing. If you’ll only come and stand here, where I do, Miss, you may have a peep at ever so many dogs, and all the gentlemen, riding helter skelter round that hill. It’s a pretty sight enough for them as has nothing better to mind. I don’t know but I might make one among them myself, now and then, if it was not for the expensiveness of hiring of a horse.’
Here some of the party came galloping towards them; and Mr. Dubster made so loud an outcry, that two or three of the sportsmen looked up, and one of them, riding close to the summer-house, perceived the two young ladies, and, instantly dismounting, fastened his horse to a tree, and contrived to scramble up into the little unfinished building.
Camilla then saw it was Major Cerwood. She explained to him the mischievous frolick of her brother, and accepted his offered services to find the ladder and the carriage.
Eugenia meanwhile rose and courtsied in answer to his enquiries after her health, and then, gravely fixing her eyes upon the ground, took no further notice of him.
The object of the Major was not Eugenia; her taciturnity therefore did not affect him; but pleased to be shut up with Camilla, he soon found out that though to mount had been easy, to descend would be difficult; and, after various mock efforts, pronounced it would be necessary to wait till some assistance arrived from below: adding, young Mr. Tyrold would soon return, as he had seen him in the hunt.
Camilla, whose concern now was all for her sister, heard this with indifference; but Mr. Dubster lost all patience. ‘So here,’ said he, ‘I may stay, and let Tom Hicks eat up all my dinner! For I can’t expect him to fast, because of this young gentleman’s comical tricks. I’ve half a mind to give a jump down myself, and go look for the ladder; only I’m not over light. Besides, if one should break one’s leg, it’s but a hard thing upon a man to be a cripple in the middle of life. It’s no such great hindrance to a lady, so I don’t say it out of disrespect; because ladies can’t do much at the best.’
The Major, finding Dubster was his host, thought it necessary to take some notice of him, and ask him if he never rode out.
‘Why no, not much of that, Sir,’ he answered; ‘for when a man’s not over used to riding, one’s apt to get a bad tumble sometimes. I believe it’s as well let alone. I never see as there was much wit in breaking one’s neck before one’s time. Besides, half them gentlemen are no better than sharpers, begging pardon, for all they look as if they could knock one down.’
‘How do you mean sharpers, Sir?’
‘Why they don’t pay everyone his own, not one in ten of them. And they’re as proud as Lucifer. If I was to go among them tomorrow, I’ll lay a wager they’d take no notice of me: unless I was to ask them to dinner. And a man may soon eat up his substance, if he’s so over complaisant.’
‘Surely, Major,’ cried Camilla, ‘my brother cannot be much longer before he joins us?-remembers us rather.’
‘Who else could desert or forget you?’ cried the Major.
‘It’s a moot point whether he’ll come or no, I see that,’ said Mr. Dubster, quite enraged; ‘them young ‘squires never know what to do for their fun. I must needs say I think it’s pity but what he’d been brought up to some calling. ’Twould have steadied him a little, I warrant. He don’t seem to know much of the troubles of life.’
A shower of rain now revived his hopes that the fear of being wet might bring him back; not considering how little sportsmen regard wet jackets.
‘However,’ continued he, ‘it’s really a piece of good luck that he was not taken with a fancy to leave us upon my island; and then we might all have been soused by this here rain: and he could just as well have walked off with my bridge as with the ladder.’
Here, to his inexpressible relief, Lionel, from the road, hailed them; and Camilla, with emotion the most violent, perceived Edgar was by his side.
Mr. Dubster, however, angry as well as glad, very solemnly said, ‘I wonder, Sir, what you think my workmen has been doing all this time, with nobody to look after them? Besides that I promised a pot o’beer to a lad to wheel me away all that rubbish that I’d cut out of my grotto; and it’s a good half day’s work, do it who will; and ten to one if they’ve stirred a nail, all left to themselves so.’
‘Pho, pho, man, you’ve been too happy, I hope, to trouble your mind about business. How do do my little girls? how you have been entertained?’
‘This is a better joke to you than to us ‘squire; but pray, Sir, begging pardon, how come you to forget what I told you about the Globe? I know very well that they say it’s quite alley-mode to make fun, but I can’t pretend as I’m over fond of the custom.’
He then desired that, at least, if he would not get the ladder himself, he would tell that other gentleman, that was with him, what he had done with it.
Edgar, having met Lionel, and heard from him how and where he had left his sisters, had impatiently ridden with him to their relief; but when he saw that the Major made one in the little party, and that he was standing by Camilla, he felt hurt and amazed, and proceeded no farther.
Camilla believed herself careless of his opinion; what she had heard from Miss Margland of his professed indifference, gave her now as much resentment, as at first it had caused her grief. She thought such a declaration an unprovoked indignity; she deigned not even to look at him, resolved for ever to avoid him; yet to prove herself, at the same time, unmortified and disengaged, talked cheerfully with the Major.
Lionel now, producing the ladder, ran up it to help his sisters to descend; and Edgar, dismounting, could not resist entering the grounds, to offer them his hand as they came down.
Eugenia was first assisted; for Camilla talked on with the Major, as if not hearing she was called: and Mr. Dubster, his complaisance wholly worn out, next followed, bowing low to everyone separately, and begging pardon, but saying he could really afford to waste no more time, without going to give a little look after his workmen, to see if they were alive or dead.
At this time the horse of the Major, by some accident breaking loose, his master was forced to run down, and Lionel scampered after to assist him.
Camilla remained alone; Edgar, slowly mounting the ladder, gravely offered his services; but, hastily leaning out of the window, she pretended to be too much occupied in watching the motions of the Major and his horse, to hear or attend to any thing else.
A sigh now tore the heart of Edgar, from doubt if this were preference to the Major, or the first dawn of incipient coquetry; but he called not upon her again; he stood quietly behind, till the horse was seized, and the Major re-ascended the ladder. They then stood at each side of it, with offers of assistance.
This appeared to Camilla a fortunate moment for making a spirited display of her indifference: she gave her hand to the Major, and, slightly courtesying to Edgar as she passed, was conducted to the carriage of her uncle.
Lionel again was the only one who spoke in the short route to Etherington, whence Eugenia, without alighting, returned to Cleves.
EDGAR remained behind, almost petrified: he stood in the little building, looking after them, yet neither descending nor stirring, till one of the workmen advanced to fetch the ladder. He then hastily quitted the spot, mounted his horse, and galloped after the carriage; though without any actual design to follow it, or any formed purpose whither to go.
The sight, however, of the Major, pursuing the same route, made him, with deep disgust, turn about, and take the shortest road to Beech Park.
He hardly breathed the whole way from indignation; yet his wrath was without definition, and nearly beyond comprehensibility even to himself, till suddenly recurring to the lovely smile with which Camilla had accepted the assistance of Major Cerwood, he involuntarily clasped his hands and called out: ‘O happy Major!’
Awakened by his ejaculation to the true state of his feelings, he started as from a sword held at his breast. ‘Jealousy!’ he cried, ‘am I reduced to so humiliating a passion? Am I capable of love without trust? Unhappy enough to cherish it with hope? No! I will not be such a slave to the delusions of inclination. I will abandon neither my honour nor my judgment to my wishes. It is not alone even her heart that can fully satisfy me; its delicacy must be mine as well as its preference. Jealousy is a passion for which my mind is not framed, and which I must not find a torment, but an impossibility!’
He now began to fear he had made a choice the most injudicious, and that coquetry and caprice had only waited opportunity, to take place of candour and frankness.
Yet, recollecting the disclaiming speeches he had been compelled to make at Cleves, he thought, if she had heard them, she might be actuated by resentment. Even then, however, her manner of shewing it was alarming, and fraught with mischief. He reflected with fresh repugnance upon the gay and dissipated society with which she was newly mixing, and which, from her extreme openness and facility, might so easily, yet so fatally, sully the fair artlessness of her mind.
He then felt tempted to hint to Mr. Tyrold, who, viewing all things, and all people in the best light, rarely foresaw danger, and never suspected deception, the expediency of her breaking off this intercourse, till she could pursue it under the security of her mother’s penetrating protection. But it occurred to him next, it was possible the Major might have pleased her. Ardent as were his own views, they had never been declared, while those of the Major seemed proclaimed without reserve. He felt his face tingle at the idea, though it nearly made his heart cease to beat; and determined to satisfy his conjecture ere he took any measure for himself.
To speak to her openly, he thought the surest as well as fairest way, and resolved, with whatever anguish, should he find the Major favoured, to aid her choice in his fraternal character, and then travel till he should forget her in every other.
For this purpose, it was necessary to make immediate enquiry into the situation of the Major, and then, if she would hear him, relate to her the result; well assured to gather the state of her heart upon this subject, by her manner of attending to the least word by which it should be introduced.
Camilla, meanwhile, was somewhat comforted by the exertion she had shewn, and by her hopes it had struck Edgar with respect.
The next morning, Sir Hugh sent for her again, and begged she would pass the whole day with her sister Eugenia, and use all her pretty ways to amuse her; for she had returned home, the preceding morning, quite moped with melancholy, and had continued pining ever since; refusing to leave her room, even for meals, yet giving no reason for her behaviour. What had come to her he could not tell; but to see her so, went to his heart; for she had always, he said, till now, been chearful and even tempered, though thinking over her learning made her not much of a young person.
Camilla flew up stairs, and found her, with a look of despondence seated in a corner of her room, which she had darkened by nearly shutting all the shutters.
She knew but too well the rude shock she had received, and sought to revive her with every expression of soothing kindness. But she shook her head, and continued mute, melancholy, and wrapt in meditation.
More than an hour was spent thus, the strict orders of Sir Hugh forbidding them any intrusion: but when, at length, Camilla ventured to say, ‘Is it possible, my dearest Eugenia, the passing insolence of two or three brutal wretches can affect you thus deeply?’ She awakened from her silent trance, and raising her head, while something bordering upon resentment began to kindle in her breast, cried, ‘Spare me this question, Camilla, and I will spare you all reproach.’
‘What reproach, my dear sister,’ cried Camilla, amazed, ‘what reproach have I merited?’
‘The reproach,’ answered she, solemnly; ‘that, from me, all my family merit! the reproach of representing to me, that thousands resembled me! of assuring me I had nothing peculiar to myself, though I was so unlike all my family-of deluding me into utter ignorance of my unhappy defects, and then casting me, all unconscious and unprepared, into the wide world to hear them!’
She would now have shut herself into her book-closet; but Camilla, forcing her way, and almost kneeling to be heard, conjured her to drive such cruel ideas from her mind, and to treat the barbarous insults that she had suffered with the contempt they deserved.
‘Camilla,’ said she, firmly; ‘I am no longer to be deceived nor trifled with. I will no more expose to the light a form and face so hideous:–I will retire from all mankind, and end my destined course in a solitude that no one shall discover.’
Camilla, terrified, besought her to form no such plan, bewailed the unfortunate adventure of the preceding day, inveighed against the inhuman women, and pleaded the love of all her family with the most energetic affection.
‘Those women,’ said she, calmly, ‘are not to blame; they have been untutored, but not false; and they have only uttered such truths as I ought to have learnt from my cradle. My own blindness has been infatuated; but it sprung from inattention and ignorance.–It is now removed!–Leave me, Camilla; give notice to my Uncle he must find me some retreat. Tell all that has passed to my father. I will myself write to my mother-and when my mind is more subdued, and when sincerely and unaffectedly I can forgive you all from my heart, I may consent to see you again.’
She then positively insisted upon being left.
Camilla, penetrated with her undeserved, yet irremediable distress, still continued at her door, supplicating for re-admittance in the softest terms; but without any success till the second dinner bell summoned her down stairs. She then fervently called upon her sister to speak once more, and tell her what she must do, and what say?
Eugenia steadily answered: ‘You have already my commission: I have no change to make in it.’
Unable to obtain anything further, she painfully descended: but the voice of her Uncle no sooner reached her ears from the dining parlour, than, shocked to convey to him so terrible a message, she again ran up stairs, and casting herself against her sister’s door, called out ‘Eugenia, I dare not obey you! would you kill my poor Uncle? My Uncle, who loves us all so tenderly? Would you afflict-would you make him unhappy?’
‘No, not for the universe!’ she answered, opening the door; and then, more gently, yet not less steadfastly, looking at her, ‘I know,’ she continued, ‘you are all very good; I know all was meant for the best; I know I must be a monster not to love you for the very error to which I am a victim.–I forgive you therefore all! and I blush to have felt angry.–But yet-at the age of fifteen-at the instant of entering into the world-at the approach of forming a connection which–O Camilla! what a time, what a period, to discover-to know-that I cannot even be seen without being derided and offended!’
Her voice faltered and, running to the window curtain, she entwined herself in its folds, and called out: ‘O hide me! hide me! from every human eye, from every thing that lives and breathes! Pursue me, persecute me no longer, but suffer me to abide by myself, till my fortitude is better strengthened to meet my destiny!’
The least impatience from Eugenia was too rare to be opposed; and Camilla, who, in common with all her family, notwithstanding her extreme youth, respected as much as she loved her, sought only to appease her by promising compliance. She gave to her, therefore, an unresisted, though unreturned embrace, and went to the dining-parlour.
Sir Hugh was much disappointed to see her without her sister; but she evaded any account of her commission till the meal was over, and then begged to speak with him alone.
Gently and gradually she disclosed the source of the sadness of Eugenia: but Sir Hugh heard it with a dismay that almost overwhelmed him. All his contrition for the evils of which, unhappily, he had been the cause, returned with severest force, and far from opposing her scheme of retreat, he empowered Camilla to offer her any residence she chose; and to tell her he would keep out of her sight, as the cause of all her misfortunes; or give her the immediate possession and disposal of his whole estate, if that would make her better amends than to wait till his death.
This message was no sooner delivered to Eugenia, than losing at once every angry impression, she hastened down stairs, and casting herself at the knees of her Uncle, begged him to pardon her design, and promised never to leave him while she lived.
Sir Hugh, most affectionately embracing her, said–‘You are too good, my dear, a great deal too good, to one who has used you so ill, at the very time when you were too young to help yourself. I have not a word to offer in my own behalf; except to hope you will forgive me, for the sake of its being all done out of pure ignorance.’
‘Alas, my dearest Uncle! all I owe to your intentions, is the deepest gratitude; and it is your’s from the bottom of my heart. Chance alone was my enemy; and all I have to regret is, that no one was sincere enough, kind enough, considerate enough, to instruct me of the extent of my misfortunes, and prepare me for the attacks to which I am liable.’
‘My dear girl,’ said he, while tears started into his eyes, ‘what you say nobody can reply to; and I find I have been doing you one wrong after another, instead of the least good: for all this was by my own order; which it is but fair to your brothers and sisters, and father and mother, and the servants, to confess. God knows, I have faults enough of my own upon my head, without taking another of pretending to have none!’
Eugenia now sought to condole him in her turn, voluntarily promising to mix with the family as usual, and only desiring to be excused from going abroad, or seeing any strangers.
‘My dear,’ said he, ‘you shall judge just what you think fit, which is the least thing I can do for you, after your being so kind as to forgive me; which I hope to do nothing in future not to deserve more; meaning always to ask my brother’s advice; which might have saved me all my worst actions, if I had done it sooner: for I’ve used poor Camilla no better; except not giving her the small pox, and that bad fall. But don’t hate me, my dears, if you can help it, for it was none of it done for want of love; only not knowing how to shew it in the proper manner; which I hope you’ll excuse for the score of my bad education.’
‘O, my Uncle!’ cried Camilla, throwing her arms round his neck, while Eugenia embraced his knees, ‘what language is this for nieces who owe so much to your goodness, and who, next to their parents, love you more than anything upon earth!’
‘You are both the best little girls in the world, my dears, and I need have nothing upon my conscience if you two pass it over; which is a great relief to me; for there’s nobody else I’ve used so bad as you two young girls; which, God knows, goes to my heart whenever I think of it.–Poor little innocents!-what had you ever done to provoke me?’
The two sisters, with the most virtuous emulation, vied with each other in demonstrative affection, till he was tolerably consoled.
The rest of the day was ruffled but for one moment; upon Sir Hugh’s answering, to a proposition of Miss Margland for a party to the next Middleton races,-that there was no refusing to let Eugenia take that pleasure, after her behaving so nobly: her face was then again overcast with the deepest gloom; and she begged not to hear of the races, nor of any other place, public or private, for going abroad, as she meant during the rest of her life, immoveably to remain at home.
He looked much concerned, but assured her she should be mistress in every thing.
Camilla left them in the evening, with a promise to return the next day; and with every anxiety of her own, lost in pity for her innocent and unfortunate sister.
She was soon, however, called back to herself, when, with what light yet remained, she saw Edgar ride up to the coach door.
With indefatigable pains he had devoted the day to the search of information concerning the Major. Of Mrs. Arlbery he had learned, that he was a man of fashion, but small fortune; and from the Ensign he had gathered, that even that small fortune was gone, and that the estate in which it was vested, had been mortgaged for three thousand pounds, to pay certain debts of honour.
Edgar had already been to the Parsonage House, but hearing Camilla was at Cleves, had made a short visit, and determined to walk his horse upon the road till he met the carriage of Sir Hugh; believing he could have no better opportunity of seeing her alone.
Yet when the coach, upon his riding up to the door, stopt, he found himself in an embarrassment for which he was unprepared. He asked how she did; desired news of the health of all the family one by one; and then, struck by the coldness of her answers, suffered the carriage to drive on.
Confounded at so sudden a loss of all presence of mind, he continued, for a minute or two, just where she left him; and then galloped after the coach, and again presented himself at its window.
In a voice and manner the most hurried, he apologised for this second detention. ‘But, I believe,’ he said, ‘some genius of officiousness has today taken possession of me, for I began it upon a Quixote sort of enterprise, and a spirit of knight-errantry seems willing to accompany me through it to the end.’
He stopt; but she did not speak. Her first sensation at his sight had been wholly indignant: but when she found he had something to say which he knew not how to pronounce, her curiosity was awakened, and she looked earnest for an explanation.
‘I know,’ he resumed, with considerable hesitation, ‘that to give advice and to give pain is commonly the same thing:–I do not, therefore, mean–I have no intention-though so lately you allowed me a privilege never to be forgotten’–
He could not get on; and his embarrassment, and this recollection, soon robbed Camilla of every angry emotion. She looked down, but her countenance was full of sensibility, and Edgar, recovering his voice, proceeded–
‘My Quixotism, I was going to say, of this morning, though for a person of whom I know almost nothing, would urge me to every possible effort-were I certain the result would give pleasure to the person for whom alone-since with regard to himself–I-it is merely–’
Involved in expressions he knew not how to clear or to finish, he was again without breath: and Camilla, raising her eyes, looked at him with astonishment.
Endeavouring then to laugh, ‘One would think,’ cried he, ‘this same Quixotism had taken possession of my intellects, and rendered them as confused as if, instead of an agent, I were a principal.’–
Still wholly in the dark as to his aim, yet, satisfied by these last words, it had no reference to himself, she now lost enough of the acuteness of her curiosity to dare avow what yet remained; and begged him, without further preface, to be more explicit.
Stammering, he then said, that the evident admiration with which a certain gentleman was seen to sigh in her train, had awakened for him an interest, which had induced some inquiries into the state of his prospects and expectations. ‘These,’ he continued, ‘turn out to be, though not high, nor by any means adequate to-to-however they are such as some previous friendly exertions, with settled future economy, might render more propitious: and for those previous exertions–Mr. Tyrold has a claim which it would be the pride and happiness of my life to see him honour;-if-if–’
The if almost dropt inarticulated: but he added–‘I shall make some further enquiries before I venture to say any more.’
‘For yourself, then, be they made, Sir!’ cried she, suddenly seizing the whole of the meaning–‘not for me?-whoever this person may be to whom you allude-to me he is utterly indifferent.’
A flash of involuntary delight beamed in the eyes of Edgar at these words: he had almost thanked her, he had almost dropt the reins of his horse to clasp his hands: but filled only with her own emotions, without watching his, or waiting for any answer, she coldly bid him good night, and called to the coachman to drive fast home.
Edgar, however, was left with a sunbeam of the most lively delight. ‘He is wholly indifferent to her,’ he cried, ‘she is angry at my interference; she has but acted a part in the apparent preference-and for me, perhaps, acted it!’
Momentary, however, was the pleasure such a thought could afford him–‘O, Camilla,’ he cried, ‘if, indeed, I might hope from you any partiality, why act any part at all?-how plain, how easy, how direct your road to my heart, if but straightly pursued!’
CAMILLA went on to Etherington in deep distress; every ray of hope was chaced from her prospects, with a certainty more cruel, though less offensive, to her feelings, than the crush given them by Miss Margland. He cares not for me! she cried; he even destines me for another! He is the willing agent of the Major; he would portion me, I suppose, for him, to accelerate the impossibility of ever thinking of me! And I imagined he loved me! what a dream!-what a dream!-how has he deceived me!-or, alas I how have I deceived myself!
She rejoiced, however, that she had made so decided an answer with regard to Major Cerwood, whom she could not doubt to be the person meant, and who, presented in such a point of view, grew utterly odious to her.
The tale she had to relate to Mr. Tyrold, of the sufferings and sad resolution of Eugenia, obviated all comment upon her own disturbance. He was wounded to the heart by the recital. ‘Alas!’ he cried, ‘your wise and excellent mother always foresaw some mischief would ensue, from the extreme caution used to keep this dear unfortunate child ignorant of her peculiar situation. This dreadful shake might have been palliated, at least, if not spared, by the lessons of fortitude that noble woman would have inculcated in her young and ductile mind. But I could not resist the painful entreaties of my poor brother, who, thinking himself the author of her calamities, believed he was responsible for saving her from feeling them; and, imagining all the world as soft-hearted as himself, concluded, that what her own family would not tell her, she could never hear elsewhere. But who should leave any events to the caprices of chance, which the precautions of foresight can determine?’
These reflections, and the thoughts of her sister, led at once and aided Camilla to stifle her own unhappiness; and for three days following, she devoted herself wholly to Eugenia.
On the morning of the fourth, instead of sending the carriage, Sir Hiugh arrived himself to fetch Camilla, and to tell his brother, he must come also, to give comfort to Eugenia; for, though he had thought the worst was over, because she appeared quiet in his presence, he had just surprised her in tears, by coming upon her unawares. He had done all he could, he said, in vain; and nothing remained but for Mr. Tyrold to try his hand himself: ‘For it is but justice,’ he added, ‘to Dr. Orkborne, to say she is wiser than all our poor heads put together; so that there is no answering her for want of sense.’ He then told him to be sure to put one of his best sermons in his pocket to read to her.
Mr. Tyrold was extremely touched for his poor Eugenia, yet said he had half an hour’s business to transact in the neighbourhood, before he could go to Cleves. Sir Hugh waited his time, and all three then, proceeded together.
Eugenia received her Father with a deliberate coldness that shocked him. He saw how profound was the impression made upon her mind, not merely of her personal evils, but of what she conceived to be the misconduct of her friends.
After a little general discourse, in which she bore no share, he proposed walking in the park; meaning there to take her aside, with less formality than he could otherwise desire to speak with her alone.
The ladies and Sir Hugh immediately looked for their hats or gloves: but Eugenia, saying she had a slight head-ache, walked away to her room.
‘This, my dear brother,’ cried Sir Hugh, sorrowfully following her with his eyes, ‘is the very thing I wanted you for; she says she’ll never more stir out of these doors as long as she’s alive; which is a sad thing to say, considering her young years; and nobody knowing how Clermont may approve it. However, it’s well I’ve had him brought up from the beginning to the classics, which I rejoice at every day more and more, it being the only wise thing I ever did of my own head; for as to talking Latin and Greek, which I suppose is what they will chiefly be doing, there’s no doubt but they may do it just as well in a room as in the fields, or the streets.’
Mr. Tyrold, after a little consideration, followed her. He tapped at her door; she asked, in a tone of displeasure, who was there? –‘Your Father, my dear,’ he answered; and then, hastily opening it, she proposed returning with him down stairs.
‘No,’ he said; ‘I wish to converse with you alone. The opinion I have long cherished of your heart and your understanding, I come now to put to the proof.’
Eugenia, certain of the subject to which he would lead, and feeling she could not have more to hear than to say, gave him a chair, and composedly seated herself next to him.
‘My dear Eugenia,’ said he, taking her passive hand, ‘this is the moment that more grievously than ever I lament the absence of your invaluable Mother. All I have to offer to your consideration she could much better have laid before you; and her dictates would have met with the attention they so completely deserve.’
‘Was my Mother, then, Sir,’ said she, reproachfully, ‘unapprized of the worldly darkness in which I have been brought up? Is she unacquainted that a little knowledge of books and languages is what alone I have been taught?’
‘We are all but too apt,’ answered Mr. Tyrold, mildly, though surprised, ‘to deem nothing worth attaining but what we have missed, nothing worth possessing but what we are denied. How many are there, amongst the untaught and unaccomplished, who would think an escape such as yours, of all intellectual darkness, a compensation for every other evil!’
‘They could think so only, Sir, while, like me, they lived immured always in the same house, were seen always by the same people, and were total strangers to the sensations they might excite in any others.’
‘My dear Eugenia, grieved as I am at the present subject of your ruminations, I rejoice to see in you a power of reflection, and of combination, so far above your years. And it is a soothing idea to me to dwell upon the ultimate benevolence of Providence, even in circumstances the most afflicting: for if chance has been unkind to you, Nature seems, with fostering foresight, to have endowed you with precisely those powers that may best set aside her malignity.’
‘I see, Sir,’ cried she, a little moved, ‘the kindness of your intention; but pardon me if I anticipate to you its ill success. I have thought too much upon my situation and my destiny to admit any fallacious comfort. Can you, indeed, when once her eyes are opened, can you expect to reconcile to existence a poor young creature who sees herself an object of derision and disgust? Who, without committing any crime, without offending any human being, finds she cannot appear but to be pointed at, scoffed and insulted!’
‘O my child! with what a picture do you wound my heart, and tear your own peace and happiness! Wretches who in such a light can view outward deficiencies cannot merit a thought, are below even contempt, and ought not to be disdained, but forgotten. Make a conquest, then, my Eugenia, of yourself; be as superior in your feelings as in your understanding, and remember what Addison admirably says in one of the Spectators: ‘A too acute sensibility of personal defects, is one of the greatest weaknesses of self-love.’
‘I should be sorry, Sir, you should attribute to vanity what I now suffer. No! it is simply the effect of never hearing, never knowing, that so severe a call was to be made upon my fortitude, and therefore never arming myself to sustain it.’
Then, suddenly, and with great emotion clasping her hands: ‘O if ever I have a family of my own,’ she cried, ‘my first care shall be to tell my daughters of all their infirmities! They shall be familiar, from their childhood, to their every defect–Ah! They must be odious indeed if they resemble their poor mother!’
‘My dearest Eugenia! let them but resemble you mentally, and there is no person, whose approbation is worth deserving, that will not love and respect them. Good and evil are much more equally divided in this world than you are yet aware: none possess the first without alloy, nor the second without palliation. Indiana. for example, now in the full bloom of all that beauty can bestow, tell me, and ask yourself strictly, would you change with Indiana?’
‘With Indiana?’ she exclaimed; ‘O! I would forfeit every other good to change with Indiana! Indiana, who never appears but to be admired, who never speaks but to be applauded.’
‘Yet a little, yet a moment, question, and understand yourself before you settle you would change with her. Look forward, and look inward. Look forward, that you may view the short life of admiration and applause for such attractions from others, and their inutility to their possessor in every moment of solitude or repose; and look inward, that you may learn to value your own peculiar riches, for times of retirement, and for days of infirmity and age!’
‘Indeed, Sir,-and pray believe me, I do not mean to repine I have not the beauty of Indiana; I know and have always heard her loveliness is beyond all comparison. I have no more, therefore, thought of envying it, than of envying the brightness of the sun. I knew, too, I bore no competition with my sisters; but I never dreamt of competition. I knew I was not handsome, but I supposed many people besides not handsome, and that I should pass with the rest; and I concluded the world to be full of people who had been sufferers as well as myself, by disease or accident. These have been occasionally my passing thoughts; but the subject never seized my mind; I never reflected upon it at all, till abuse, without provocation, all at once opened my eyes, and shewed me to myself! Bear with me, then, my father, in this first dawn of terrible conviction! Many have been unfortunate,-but none unfortunate like me! Many have met with evils-but who with an accumulation like mine!’
Mr. Tyrold, extremely affected, embraced her with the utmost tenderness: ‘My dear, deserving, excellent child,’ he cried, ‘what would I not endure, what sacrifice not make, to soothe this cruel disturbance, till time and your own understanding can exert their powers?’ Then, while straining her to his breast with the fondest parental commiseration, the tears, with which his eyes were overflowing, bedewed her cheeks.
Eugenia felt them, and, sinking to the ground, pressed his knees. ‘O my father,’ she cried, ‘a tear from your revered eyes afflicts me more than all else! Let me not draw forth another, lest I should become not only unhappy, but guilty. Dry them up, my dearest father-let me kiss them away.’
‘Tell me, then, my poor girl, you will struggle against this ineffectual sorrow! Tell me you will assert that fortitude which only waits for your exertion; and tell me you will forgive the misjudging compassion which feared to impress you earlier with pain!’
‘I will do all, every thing you desire! my injustice is subdued! my complaints shall be hushed! you have conquered me, my beloved father! Your indulgence, your lenity shall take place of every hardship, and leave me nothing but filial affection!’
Seizing this grateful moment, he then required of her to relinquish her melancholy scheme of seclusion from the world: ‘The shyness and the fears which gave birth to it,’ said he, ‘will but grow upon you if listened to; and they are not worthy the courage I would instil into your bosom-the courage, my Eugenia, of virtue-the courage to pass by, as if unheard, the insolence of the hard-hearted, and ignorance of the vulgar. Happiness is in your power, though beauty is not; and on that to set too high a value would be pardonable only in a weak and frivolous mind; since, whatever is the involuntary admiration with which it meets, every estimable quality and accomplishment is attainable without it: and though, which I cannot deny, its immediate influence is universal, yet in every competition and in every decision of esteem, the superior, the elegant, the better part of mankind give their suffrages to merit alone. And you, in particular, will find yourself, through life, rather the more than the less valued, by every mind capable of justice and compassion, for misfortunes which no guilt has incurred.’
Observing her now to be softened, though not absolutely consoled, he rang the bell, and begged the servant, who answered it, to request his brother would order the coach immediately, as he was obliged to return home; ‘And you, my love,’ said he, ‘shall accompany me; it will be the least exertion you can make in first breaking through your averseness to quit the house.’
Eugenia would not resist; but her compliance was evidently repugnant to her inclination; and in going to the glass to put on her hat, she turned aside from it in shuddering, and hid her face with both her hands.
‘My dearest child,’ cried Mr. Tyrold, wrapping her again in his arms, ‘this strong susceptibility will soon wear away; but you cannot be too speedy nor too firm in resisting it. The omission of what never was in our power cannot cause remorse, and the bewailing what never can become in our power cannot afford comfort. Imagine but what would have been the fate of Indiana, had your situations been reversed, and had she, who can never acquire your capacity, and therefore never attain your knowledge, lost that beauty which is her all; but which to you, even if retained, could have been but a secondary gift. How short will be the reign of that all! how useless in sickness! how unavailing in solitude! how inadequate to long life! how forgotten, or repiningly remembered in old age! You will live to feel pity for all you now covet and admire; to grow sensible to a lot more lastingly happy in your own acquirements and powers; and to exclaim, with contrition and wonder, Time was when I would have changed with the poor mind-dependent Indiana!’
The carriage was now announced; Eugenia, with reluctant steps, descended; Camilla was called to join them, and Sir Hugh saw them set off with the utmost delight.
TO lengthen the airing, Mr. Tyrold ordered the carriage by a new road; and to induce Eugenia to break yet another spell, in walking as well as riding, he proposed their alighting, when they came to a lane, and leaving the coach in waiting while they took a short stroll.
He walked between his daughters a considerable way, passing, wherever it was possible, close to cottages, labourers, and children. Eugenia submitted with a sigh, but held down her head, affrighted at every fresh object they encountered, till, upon approaching a small miserable hut, at the door of which several children were playing, an unlucky boy called out, ‘O come! Come! Look!-here’s the little hump-back gentlewoman!’
She then, clinging to her father, could not stir another step, and cast upon him a look of appeal and reproach that almost overset him; but, after speaking to her some words of kindness, he urged her to go on, and alone, saying, ‘Throw only a shilling to the senseless little crew, and let Camilla follow and give nothing, and see which will become the most popular.’
They both obeyed, Eugenia fearfully and with quickness casting amongst them some silver, and Camilla quietly walking on.
‘O, I have got a sixpence!’ cried one; ‘and I’ve got a shilling!’ said another; while the mother of the little tribe came from her wash-tub, and called out, ‘God bless your ladyship!’ and the father quitted a little garden at the side of his cottage, to bow down to the ground, and cry, ‘Heaven reward you, good madam! you’ll have a blessing go with you, go where you will!’
The children then, dancing up to Camilla, begged her charity; but when, seconding the palpable intention of her father, she said she had nothing for them, they looked highly dissatisfied, while they redoubled their blessings to Eugenia.
‘See, my child,’ said Mr. Tyrold, now joining them, ‘how cheaply preference, and even flattery, may be purchased!’
‘Ah, Sir!’ she answered, recovered from her terrour, yet deep in reflection, ‘this is only by bribery, and gross bribery, too! And what pleasure, or what confidence can accrue from preference so earned!’
‘The means, my dear Eugenia, are not beneath the objects: if it is only from those who unite native hardness with uncultured minds and manners, that civility is to be obtained by such sordid materials, remember, also, it is from such only it can ever fail you. In the lowest life, equally with the highest, wherever nature has been kind, sympathy springs spontaneously for whatever is unfortunate, and respect for whatever seems innocent. Steel yourself then, firmly to withstand attacks from the cruel and unfeeling, and rest perfectly secure you will have none other to apprehend.’
The clear and excellent capacity of Eugenia, comprehended in this lesson, and its illustration, all the satisfaction Mr. Tyrold hoped to impart; and she was ruminating upon it with abated despondence, when, as they came to a small house, surrounded with a high wall, Mr. Tyrold, looking through an iron gate at a female figure who stood at one of the windows, exclaimed–‘What a beautiful creature! I have rarely, I think seen a more perfect face.’
Eugenia felt so much hurt by this untimely sight, that, after a single glance which confirmed the truth of what he said, she bent her eyes another way; while Camilla herself was astonished that her kind father should call their attention to beauty, at so sore and critical a juncture.
‘The examination of a fine picture,’ said he, fixing his eyes upon the window, and standing still at the iron gate, ‘is a constant as well as exquisite pleasure; for we look at it with an internal security, that such as it appears to us today, it will appear again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow; but in the pleasure given by the examination of a fine face, there is always, to a contemplative mind, some little mixture of pain; an idea of its fragility steals upon our admiration, and blends with it something like solicitude; the consciousness how short a time we can view it perfect, how quickly its brilliancy of bloom will be blown, and how ultimately it will be nothing.–’
‘You would have me, Sir,’ said Eugenia, now raising her eyes, ‘learn to see beauty with unconcern, by depreciating its value? I feel your kind intention; but it does not come home to me; reasoning such as this may be equally applicable to any thing else, and degrade whatever is desirable into insignificance.’
‘No, my dear child, there is nothing, either in its possession or its loss, that can be compared with beauty; nothing so evanescent, and nothing that leaves behind it a contrast which impresses such regret. It cannot be forgotten, since the same features still remain, though they are robbed of their effect upon the beholder; the same complexion is there, though faded into a tint bearing no resemblance with its original state; and the same eyes present themselves to the view, though bereft of all the lustre that had rendered them captivating.’
‘Ah, Sir! this is an argument but formed for the moment. Is not the loss of youth the same to every body? and is not age equally unwelcome to the ugly and to the handsome?’
‘For activity, for strength, and for purposes of use, certainly, my dear girl, there can be no difference; but for motives to mental regret, there can be no comparison. To those who are commonly moulded, the gradual growth of decay brings with it its gradual endurance, because little is missed from day to day; hope is not roughly chilled, nor expectation rudely blasted; they see their friends, their connections, their contemporaries, declining by the same laws, and they yield to the immutable and general lot rather imperceptibly than resignedly; but it is not so with the beauty; her loss is not only general, but peculiar; and it is the peculiar, not the general evil, that constitutes all hardship. Health, strength, agility, and animal spirits, she may sorrowing feel diminish; but she hears everyone complain of similar failures, and she misses them unmurmuring, though not unlamenting; but of beauty, every declension is marked with something painful to self-love. The change manifested by the mirror might patiently be borne; but the change manifested in the eyes of every beholder, gives a shock that does violence to every pristine feeling.’
‘This may certainly, sir, be cruel; trying at least; but then, what a youth has she first passed! Mortification comes upon her, at least, in succession; she does not begin the world with it,-a stranger at all periods to anything happier!’
‘Ah, my child! the happiness caused by personal attractions pays a dear after-price! The soldier who enters the field of battle requires not more courage, though of a different nature, than the faded beauty who enters an assembly-room. To be wholly disregarded, after engaging every eye; to be unassisted, after being habituated to seeing crowds anxiously offer their services; to be unheard, after monopolising every ear-can you, indeed, persuade yourself a change such as this demands but ordinary firmness? Yet the altered female who calls for it, has the least chance to obtain it; for even where nature has endowed her with fortitude, the world and its flatteries have almost uniformly enervated it, before the season of its exertion.’
‘All this may be true,’ said Eugenia, with a sigh; ‘and to me, however sad in itself, it may prove consolatory; and yet-forgive my sincerity, when I own–I would purchase a better appearance at any price, any expence, any payment, the world could impose!’
Mr. Tyrold was preparing an answer, when the door of the house, which he had still continued facing, was opened, and the beautiful figure, which had for some time retired from the window, rushed suddenly upon a lawn before the gate against which they were leaning.
Not seeing them, she sat down upon the grass, which she plucked up by hands full, and strewed over her fine flowing hair.
Camilla, fearing they should seem impertinent, would have retreated; but Eugenia, much struck, sadly, yet with earnestness, compelled herself to regard the object before her, who was young, fair, of a tall and striking figure, with features delicately regular.
A sigh, not to be checked, acknowledged how little either reasoning or eloquence could subdue a wish to resemble such an appearance, when the young person, flinging herself suddenly upon her face, threw her white arms over her head, and sobbed aloud with violence.
Astonished, and deeply concerned, Eugenia internally said, alas! what a world is this! even beauty so exquisite, without waiting for age or change, may be thus miserable!
She feared to speak, lest she should be heard; but she looked up to her father, with an eye that spoke concession, and with an interest for the fair afflicted, which seemed to request his assistance.
He motioned to her to be quiet; when the young person, abruptly half rising, burst into a fit of loud, shrill, and discordant laughter.
Eugenia now, utterly confounded, would have drawn her father away; but he was intently engaged in his observations, and steadily kept his place.
In two minutes, the laugh ceased all at once, and the young creature, hastily rising, began turning round with a velocity that no machine could have exceeded.
The sisters now fearfully interchanged looks that shewed they thought her mad, and both endeavoured to draw Mr. Tyrold from the gate, but in vain; he made them hold by his arms, and stood still.
Without seeming giddy, she next began to jump; and he now could only detain his daughters, by shewing them the gate, at which they stood, was locked.
In another minute, she perceived them, and, coming eagerly forward, dropt several low courtesies, saying, at every fresh bend–‘Good day!–Good day!–Good day!’
Equally trembling, they now both turned pale with fear; but Mr. Tyrold, who was still immovable, answered her by a bow, and asked if she were well.
‘Give me a shilling!’ was her reply, while the slaver drivelled unrestrained from her mouth, rendering utterly disgusting a chin that a statuary might have wished to model.
‘Do you live at this house!’ said Mr. Tyrold.
‘Yes, please-yes, please-yes, please,’ she answered, twenty times following, and almost black in the face before she would allow herself to take another breath.
A cat now appearing at the door, she seized it, and tried to twine it round her neck with great fondling, wholly unresisting the scratches which tore her fine skin.
Next, capering forward with it towards the gate, ‘Look! Look!’ she cried, ‘here’s puss!-here’s puss!-here’s puss!’
Then, letting it fall, she tore her handkerchief off her neck, put it over her face, strained it as tight as she was able, and tied it under her chin; and then struck her head with both her hands, making a noise that resembled nothing human.
‘Take, take me away, my father!’ cried Eugenia, ‘I see, I feel your awful lesson! but impress it no further, lest I die in receiving it!’
Mr. Tyrold immediately moved off without speaking; Camilla, penetrated for her sister, observed the same silence; and Eugenia, hanging upon her father, and absorbed in profound rumination, only by the depth of her sighs made her existence known; and thus, without the interchange of a word, slowly and pensively they walked back to the carriage.
Eugenia broke the silence as soon as they were seated: ‘O, my father!’ she exclaimed, ‘what a sight have you made me witness! how dread a reproof have you given to my repining spirit! Did you know this unhappy beauty was at that house? Did you lead me thither purposely to display to me her shocking imbecility?’
‘Relying upon the excellence of your understanding, I ventured upon an experiment more powerful, I well knew, than all that reason could urge; an experiment not only striking at the moment, but which, by playing upon the imagination, as well as convincing the judgment, must make an impression that can never be effaced. I have been informed for some time, that this poor girl was in our neighbourhood; she was born an idiot, and therefore, having never known brighter days, is insensible to her terrible state. Her friends are opulent, and that house is taken, and a woman is paid, to keep her in existence and in obscurity. I had heard of her uncommon beauty, and when the news reached me of my dear Eugenia’s distress, the idea of this meeting occurred to me; I rode to the house, and engaged the woman to detain her unfortunate charge at the window till we appeared, and then to let her loose into the garden. Poor, ill fated young creature! It has been, indeed, a melancholy sight.’
‘A sight,’ cried Eugenia, ‘to come home to me with shame!–O, my dear Father! your prescription strikes to the root of my disease!-shall I ever again dare murmur!-will any egotism ever again make me believe no lot so hapless as my own! I will think of her when I am discontented; I will call to my mind this spectacle of human degradation-and submit, at least with calmness, to my lighter evils and milder fate.’
‘My excellent child! this is just what I expected from the candour of your temper, and the rectitude of your sentiments. You have seen, here, the value of intellects in viewing the horrour of their loss; and you have witnessed, that beauty, without mind, is more dreadful than any deformity. You have seized my application, and left me nothing to enforce; my dear, my excellent child! you have left for your fond Father nothing but tender approbation! With the utmost thankfulness to Providence, I have marked from your earliest childhood, the native justness of your understanding; which, with your studious inclination to sedentary accomplishments, has proved a reviving source of consolation to your mother and to me, for the cruel accidents we have incessantly lamented. How will that admirable mother rejoice in the recital I have to make to her! What pride will she take in a daughter so worthily her own, so resembling her in nobleness of nature, and a superior way of thinking! Her tears, my child, like mine, will thank you for your exertions! she will strain you to her fond bosom, as your father strains you at this moment!’
‘Yes, Sir,’ cried Eugenia, ‘your kind task is now completed with your vanquished Eugenia! her thoughts, her occupations, her happiness, shall henceforth all be centred in filial gratitude and contentment.’
The affectionate Camilla, throwing her arms about them both, bathed each with the tears of joy and admiration, which this soothing conclusion to an adventure so severe excited.
TO oblige Mr. Tyrold, who had made the arrangement with Sir Hugh, Eugenia consented to dine and spend the day at Etherington, which she quitted at night in a temper of mind perfectly composed.
Camilla was deeply penetrated by the whole of this affair. The sufferings, so utterly unearned by fault or by folly, of a sister so dear to her, and the affecting fortitude which, so quickly upon her wounds, and at so early a period of life, she already began to display, made her blush at the dejection into which she was herself cast by every evil, and resolve to become in future more worthy of the father and the sister, who at this moment absorbed all her admiration.
Too reasonable, in such a frame of mind, to plan forgetting Mandlebert, she now only determined to think of him as she had thought before her affections became entangled; to think of him, in short, as he seemed himself to desire; to seek his friendly offices and advice, but to reject every offered establishment, and to live single for life.
Gratified by indulgent praise, and sustained by exerted virtue, the revived Eugenia had nearly reached Cleves, on her return, when the carriage was stopt by a gentleman on horseback, who, approaching the coach window, said, in a low voice, as if unwilling to be heard by the servants–‘O, Madam! has Fate set aside her cruelty? and does Fortune permit me to live once more?’
She then recollected Mr. Bellamy. She had only her maid in the carriage, who was sent for her by Sir Hugh, Miss Margland being otherwise engaged.
All that had so lately passed upon her person and appearance being full upon her mind, she involuntarily shrunk back, hiding her face with her cloak.
Bellamy, by no means conceiving this mark of emotion to be unfavourable, steadied his horse, by leaning one hand on the coach-window, and said, in a yet lower voice–‘O, Madam! is it possible you can hate me so barbarously?-will you not even deign to look at me, though I have so long been banished from your presence?’
Eugenia, during this speech, called to mind, that though new, in some measure, to herself, she was not so to this gentleman, and ventured to uncover her face; when the grief painted on the fine features of Bellamy, so forcibly touched her, that she softly answered–‘No Sir, indeed I do not hate you: I am incapable of such ingratitude; but I conjure–I beseech you to forget me!’
‘Forget you?–O, Madam! you command an impossibility! No, I am constancy itself, and not all the world united shall tear you from my heart!’
Jacob, who caught a word or two, now rode up to the other window, and as Eugenia began–‘Conquer, Sir, I entreat you, this ill-fated partiality!–’ told her the horses had been hard-worked, and must go home.
As Jacob was the oracle of Sir Hugh about his horses, his will was prescriptive law: Eugenia never disputed it, and only saying ‘Think of me, Sir, no more!’ bid the coachman drive on.
Bellamy, respectfully submitting, continued, with his hat in his hand, as the maid informed her mistress, looking after the carriage till it was out of sight.
A tender sorrow now stole upon the just revived tranquillity of the gentle and generous Eugenia. ‘Ah!’ thought she, ‘I have rendered, little as I seem worthy of such power, I have rendered this amiable man miserable, though possibly, and probably, he is the only man in existence whom I could render happy!–Ah! how may I dare expect from Clermont a similar passion?’
Molly Mill, a very young girl, and daughter of a poor tenant of Sir Hugh, interrupted these reflections from time to time, with remarks upon their object. ‘Dearee me, Miss,’ she cried, ‘what a fine gentleman that was!-he sighed like to split his heart when you said, don’t think about me no more. He’s some loveyer, like, I’m sure.’
Eugenia returned home so much moved by this incident, that Sir Hugh, believing his brother himself had failed to revived her, was disturbed all anew with acute contrition for her disasters, and feeling very unwell, went to bed before supper time.
Eugenia retired also; and after spending the evening in soft compassion for Bellamy, and unfixed apprehensions and distaste for young Lynmere, was preparing to go to bed, when Molly Mill, out of breath with haste, brought her a letter.
She eagerly opened it, whilst enquiring whence it came.
‘O, Miss, the fine gentleman-that same fine gentleman brought it himself: and he sent for me out, and I did not know who I was to go to, for Mary only said a boy wanted me; but the boy said, I must come with him to the stile; and when I come there, who should I see but the fine gentleman himself! And he gave me this letter, and he asked me to give it you-and see! look Miss! what I got for my trouble!’
She then exhibited a half-guinea.
‘You have not done right, Molly, in accepting it. Money is bribery; and you should have known that the letter was improperly addressed, if bribery was requisite to make it delivered.’
‘Dearee me, Miss, what’s half-a-guinea to such a gentleman as that? I dare say he’s got his pockets full of them!’
‘I shall not read it, certainly,’ cried Eugenia, ‘now I know this circumstance. Give me the wax–I will seal it again.’
She then hesitated whether she ought to return it, or shew it to her uncle, or commit it to the flames.
That to which she was most unwilling, appeared, to the strictness of her principles, to be most proper: she therefore determined that the next morning she would relate her evening’s adventure, and deliver the unread letter to Sir Hugh.
Had this epistle not perplexed her, she had meant never to name its writer. Persuaded her last words had finally dismissed him, she thought it a high point of female delicacy never to publish an unsuccessful conquest.
This resolution taken, she went to bed, satisfied with herself, but extremely grieved at the sufferings she was preparing for one who so singularly loved her.
The next morning, however, her uncle did not rise to breakfast, and was so low spirited, that fearing to disturb him, she deemed it most prudent to defer the communication.
But when, after she had taken her lesson from Dr. Orkborne, she returned to her room, she found Molly Mill impatiently waiting for her: ‘O, Miss,’ she cried, ‘here’s another letter for you! and you must read it directly, for the gentleman says if you don’t it will be the death of him.’
‘Why did you receive another letter?’ said Eugenia, displeased.
‘Dearee me, Miss, how could I help it? if you’d seen the taking he was in, you’d have took it yourself. He was all of a quake, and ready to go down of his two knees. Dearee me, if it did not make my heart go pit-pat to see him! He was like to go out of his mind, he said, and the tears, poor gentleman, were all in his eyes. ’
Eugenia now turned away, strongly affected by this description.
‘Do, Miss,’ continued Molly, ‘write him a little scrap, if it’s never so scratched and bad. He’ll take it kinder than nothing. Do, Miss, do. Don’t be ill-natured. And just read this little letter, do, Miss, do;-it won’t take you much time, you reads so nice and fast.’
‘Why,’ cried Eugenia, ‘did you go to him again? how could you so incautiously entrust yourself to the conduct of a strange boy?’
‘A strange boy! dearee me, Miss, don’t you know it was Tommy Hodd? I knows him well enough; I knows all the boys, I warrant me, round about here. Come, Miss, here’s pen and ink; you’ll run it off before one can count five, when you’ve a mind to it. He’ll be in a sad taking till he sees me come back.’
‘Come back? is it possible you have been so imprudent as to have promised to see him again?’
‘Dearee me, yes, Miss! he’d have made away with himself if I had not. He’d been there ever since six in the morning, without nothing to eat or drink, a riding up and down the road, till he could see me coming to the stile. And he says he’ll keep a riding there all day long, and all night too, till I goes to him.’
Eugenia conceived herself now in a situation of unexampled distress. She forced Molly Mill to leave her, that she might deliberate what course to pursue.
Having read no novels, her imagination had never been awakened to scenes of this kind; and what she had gathered upon such subjects in the poetry and history she had studied with Dr. Orkborne, had only impressed her fancy in proportion as love bore the character of heroism, and the lover that of an hero. Though highly therefore romantic, her romance was not the common adoption of a circulating library: it was simply that of elevated sentiments, formed by animated credulity playing upon youthful inexperience.
‘Alas!’ cried she, ‘what a conflict is mine! I must refuse a man who adores me to distraction, in disregard of my unhappy defects, to cast myself under the guidance of one who, perhaps, may estimate beauty so highly as to despise me for its want!’
This idea pleaded so powerfully for Bellamy, that something like a wish to open his letters, obtained pardon to her little maid for having brought them. She suppressed, however, the desire, though she held them alternately to her eyes, conjecturing their contents, and bewailing for their impassioned writer the cruel answer they must receive.
Though checked by shame, she had some desire to consult Camilla; but she could not see her in time, Mrs. Arlbery having insisted upon carrying her in the evening to a play, which was to be performed, for one night only, by a company of passing strollers at Northwick.
‘My decision,’ she cried, ‘must be my own, and must be immediate. Ah! how leave a man such as this, to wander night and day neglected and uncertain of his fate! With tears he sent me his letters!-what must not have been his despair when such was his sensibility? tears in a man!-tears, too, that could not be restrained even till his messenger was out of sight!-how touching!–’
Her own then fell, in tender commiseration, and it was with extreme repugnance she compelled herself to take such measures as she thought her duty required. She sealed the two letters in an empty cover, and having directed them to Mr. Bellamy, summoned Molly Mill, and told her to convey them to the gentleman, and positively acquaint him she must receive no more, and that those which were returned had never been read. She bid her, however, add, that she should always wish for his happiness, and be grateful for his kind partiality; though she earnestly conjured him to vanquish a regard which she did not deserve, and must never return.
Molly Mill would fain have remonstrated; but Eugenia, with that firmness which, even in the first youth, accompanies a consciousness of preferring duty to inclination, silenced, and sent her off.
Relieved for herself, now the struggle was over, she secretly rejoiced that it was not for Melmond she had so hard a part to act: and this idea, while it rendered Bellamy less an object of regret, diminished also something of her pity for his conflict, by reminding her of the success which had attended her own similar exertions.
But when Molly returned, her distress was renewed: she brought her these words, written with a pencil upon the back of her own cover:
‘I do not dare, cruellest of your sex, to write you another letter; but if you would save me from the abyss of destruction, you will let me hear my final doom from your own mouth. I ask nothing more! Ah! walk but one moment in the park, near the pales; deny not your miserable adorer this last single request, and he will fly this fatal climate which has swallowed up his repose for ever! But, til then, here he will stay, and neither quit the spot whence he sends you these lines, till you have deigned to pronounce verbally his doom, though he should famish for want of food!
Eugenia read this with horrour and compassion. She imagined he perhaps thought her confined, and would therefore believe no answer that did not issue immediately from her own lips. She sent Molly to him again with the same message; but Molly returned with a yet worse account of his desperation, and a strong assurance, that if she would only utter to him a single word, he would obey, depart, and live upon it the rest of his life.
This completely softened her. Rather than imperiously suffer such a pattern of respectful constancy to perish, she consented to speak her own negative. But fearing she might be moved to some sympathy by his grief, she resolved to be accompanied by Camilla, and deferred, therefore, the interview till the next day.
Molly brought back his humble acknowledgments for this concession, and an account that, at last, slowly and sadly, he had ridden away.
Her feelings were now better satisfied than her understanding. She feared what she had granted was a favour; yet her heart was too tender to reproach a compliance made upon such conditions, and to prevent such evils.
CAMILLA, though her personal sorrows were blunted by the view of the calamities and resignation of her sister, was so little disposed for amusement, that she had accepted the invitation of Mrs. Arlbery, only from wanting spirit to resist its urgency. Mr Tyrold was well pleased that such a recreation came in her way, but desired Lavinia might be of the party; not only that she might partake of the same pleasure, but from a greater security in her prudence, than in that of her naturally thoughtless sister.
The town of Etherington afforded no theatre; and the room fitted up for the night’s performance could contain but two boxes, one of which was secured for Mrs. Arlbery and her friends.
The attentive Major was ready to offer his hand to Camilla upon her arrival. The rest of the officers were in the box.
The play was Othello; and so miserably represented, that Lavinia would willingly have retired after the first scene: but the native spirits of Camilla revisited her in the view of the ludicrous personages of the drama. And they were soon joined by Sir Sedley Clarendel, whose quaint conceits and remarks assisted the risibility of the scene. She thought him the least comprehensible person she had ever known; but as he was totally indifferent to her, his oddity entertained without tormenting her.
The actors were of the lowest strolling kind, and so utterly without merit, that they had never yet met with sufficient encouragement to remain one week in the same place. They had only a single scene for the whole performance, which depictured a camp, and which here served for a street, a senate, a city, a castle, and a bed-chamber.
The dresses were almost equally parsimonious, everyone being obliged to take what would fit him, from a wardrobe that did not allow quite two dresses a person for all the plays they had to enact. Othello, therefore, was equipped as King Richard the Third, save that instead of a regal front he had a black wig, to imitate wool: while his face had been begrimed with a smoked cork.
Iago wore a suit of cloaths originally made for Lord Foppington: Brabantio had borrowed the armour of Hamlet’s Ghost: Cassio, the Lieutenant General in the christian army, had only been able to equip himself in Osmyn’s Turkish vest; and Roderigo, accoutred in the garment of Shylock, came forth a complete Jew.
Desdemona, attired more suitably to her fate than to her expectations, went through the whole of her part, except the last scene, in the sable weeds of Isabella. And Amelia was fain to content herself with the habit of the first witch in Macbeth.
The gestures, both of the gentlemen and ladies, were as outrageous as if meant rather to intimidate the audience, than to shew their own animation; and the men approached each other so closely with arms a-kimbo, or double fists, that Sir Sedley, with pretended alarm, said they were giving challenges for a boxing match.
The ladies also, in the energy of their desire not to be eclipsed, took so much exercise in their action, that they tore out the sleeves of their gowns; which, though pinned up every time they left the stage, completely exposed their shoulders at the end of every act; and they raised their arms so high while facing each other, that Sir Sedley expressed frequent fears they meant to finish by pulling caps.
So imperfect were they also in their parts, that the prompter was the only person from whom any single speech passed without a blunder.
Iago, who was the master of the troop, was the sole performer who spoke not with a provincial dialect; the rest all betrayed their birth and parentage the first line they uttered.
Cassio proclaimed himself from Norfolk:
The Deuk dew greet yew, General,
- - - - - - - - - - -
Being not at yew’re lodging to be feund - - -
The senate sent above tree several quests, &c.
Othello himself proved a true Londoner; and with his famed soldier-like eloquence in the senate-scene, thus began his celebrated defence.
Most potent, grawe, and rewerend Seignors,
My wery noble and approwed good masters,
That I have ta’en avay this old man’s darter–
I vill a round, unwarnish’d tale deliver
Of my whole course of love; vhat drugs, vhat charms,
Vhat conjuration, and vhat mighty magic
I von his darter with - - -
Her father lov’d me, oft inwited me - -
- - - My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a vorld of sighs,
She svore in faith ‘tvas strange, ‘tvas passing strange,
‘Tvas pitiful, ‘tvas vondrous pitiful;
She vish’d she had not heard it; yet she vish’d
That Heawen had made her such a man. - -
This only is the vitchcraft I have us’d;
Here comes the lady, let her vitness it.
This happily making the gentle Desdemona recognised, notwithstanding her appearance was so little bridal, her Somersetshire father cried:
I preay you hear ‘ur zpeak.
If a confez that a waz half the woer
Deztruction on my head, if my bead bleame
Light o’ the mon!
His daughter, in the Worcestershire pronunciation, answered:
Hi do perceive ere a divided duty;
To you hi howe my life hand heducation,
My life hand heducation both do teach me
Ow to respect you. You’re the lord hof duty;
Hi’m itherto your daughter: but ere’s my usband!–
The fond Othello then exclaimed:
Your woices, lords! beseech you let her vill
Have a free vay! - - -
And Brabantio took leave with
Look to ‘ur, Moor! if th’ azt eyez to zee;
A haz deceiv’d ‘ur veather, and may thee. -
They were detained so long between the first and second act, that Sir Sedley said he feared poor Desdemona had lost the thread-paper from which she was to mend her gown, and recommended to the two young ladies to have the charity to go and assist her. ‘Consider,’ he said, ‘the trepidation of a fair bride but just entered into her shackles. Who knows but Othello may be giving her a strapping, in private, for wearing out her cloaths so fast! you young ladies think nothing of these little conjugal freedoms.’
Mrs. Arlbery, though for some time she had been as well diverted by the play as Camilla, less new to such exhibitions, was soon tired of the sameness of the blunders, and, at the end of the fourth act, proposed retiring. But Camilla, who had long not felt so much entertained, looked so disappointed, that her good humour overcame her fatigue, and she was insisting upon staying; when a gentleman, who visited them from the opposite box, proposed that the young ladies should be carried home by his mother, a lady who lived at Etherington, and was acquainted at the rectory, and who intended to stay out not only the play but the farce. Lavinia consented; the son went with the proposition, and the business was soon arranged. Mrs. Arlbery, who had three miles to go beyond the parsonage-house, and who, though she delighted to oblige, was but little in the habit of practising self-denial, then consigned the young ladies to General Kinsale, to be conducted to the opposite box, and was handed by Colonel Andover to her coach.
The General guarded the eldest sister; the Major took care of Camilla: but they were all stopt in their passage by the sudden seizure of a pickpocket, and forced hastily back to the box they had quitted.
This commotion, though it had disturbed all the audience, had not stopt the performance; and Desdemona being just now discovered in bed, Camilla, not to lose the interesting scene, persuaded her sister to wait till the play was over, before they attempted again to cross to the opposite box; into which, in a few minutes after, she saw Mandlebert enter.
They had both already seated themselves as much out of sight as possible; and Camilla now began to regret she had not accompanied Mrs. Arlbery. She had thought only of the play and its entertainment, till the sight of Mandlebert told her that her situation was improper; and the idea only occurred to her by considering that it would occur to him.
Mandlebert had dined out with a party of men, and had stept in to see what was going forwards, without any knowledge whom he should meet: he instantly discerned Lavinia, and felt anxious to know why Camilla was not with her, and why she sat so much out of sight: but Camilla so completely hid herself, he could only see there was a female, whom he concluded to be some Etherington lady; and he determined to make further enquiry when the act should be over.
The performance now became so truly ludicrous, that Camilla, notwithstanding all her uneasiness, was excited to almost perpetual laughter.
Desdemona, either from the effect of a bad cold, or to give more of nature to her repose, breathed so hard, as to raise a general laugh in the audience; Sir Sedley, stopping his ears, exclaimed, ‘O! if she snores I shall plead for her no more, if she tear her gown to tatters! Suffocation is much too lenient for her. She’s an immense horrid personage! nasal to alarm!’
Othello then entered, with a tallow candle in his hand, staring and dropping grease at every step; and, having just declared he would not
Scar that vhiter skin of hers than snow,
perceived a thief in the candle, which made it run down so fast over his hand, and the sleeve of his coat, that, the moment not being yet arrived for extinguishing it, he was forced to lay down his sword, and, for want of better means, snuff it with his fingers.
Sir Sedley now protested himself completely disordered: ‘I must be gone,’ cried he, ‘incontinently; this exceeds resistance: I shan’t be alive in another minute. Are you able to form a notion of anything more annihilating? If I did not build upon the pleasure of seeing him stop up those distressing nostrils of the gentle Desdemona, I could not breathe here another instant.’
But just after, while Othello leant over the bed to say–
Vhen I’ve pluck’d the rose
I cannot give it wital growth again,
It needs must vither–––
his black locks caught fire.
The candle now fell from his hand, and he attempted to pull off his wig; but it had been tied close on, to appear more natural, and his fright disabled him; he therefore flung himself upon the bed, and rolled the coverlid over his head.
Desdemona, excessively frightened, started up, and jumped out, shrieking aloud–‘O, Lord! I shall be burnt!’
This noble Venetian Dame then exhibited, beneath an old white satin bedgown, made to cover her arms and breast, the dress in which she had equipped herself, between the acts, to be ready for trampling home; namely, a dirty red and white linen gown, an old blue stuff quilted coat, and black shoes and stockings.
In this pitiable condition, she was running, screaming, off the stage, when Othello, having quenched the fire, unconscious that half his curls had fallen a sacrifice to the flames, hastily pursued her, and, in a violent passion, called her a fool, and brought her back to the bed; in which he assisted her to compose herself, and then went behind the scenes to light his candle; which having done, he gravely returned, and, very carefully putting it down, renewed his part with the line.
Be thus vhen thou art dead, and I vill kill thee
And love thee after–
Amidst roars of laughter from the whole audience, who, when he kissed her, almost with one voice called out–‘Ay ay, that’s right-kiss and friends!’
And when he said–
I must veep - - -
‘So must I too, my good friend,’ cried Sir Sedley, wiping his eyes, ‘for never yet did sorrow cost me more salt rheum! Poor Blacky! Thou hast been most indisolubly comic, I confess. Thou hast unstrung me to a degree. A baby of half an hour might demolish me.’
And again, when Othello exclaimed–
‘The deuce she does?’ cried Sir Sedley, ‘what! has she been asleep again already? She’s a very caricature of Morpheus. Ay, do thy worst, honest Mungo. I can’t possibly beg her off. I would sooner snift thy farthing candle than sustain that nasal cadence ever more.’
‘He’s the finest fellow upon the face of the earth,’ cried Mr. Macdersey, who had listened to the whole play with the most serious interest; ‘the instant he suspects his wife, he cuts her off without ceremony; though she’s dearer to him than his eye sight, and beautiful as an angel. How I envy him!’
‘Don’t you think ’twould have been as well,’ said General Kinsale, ‘if he’d first made some little enquiry?’
‘He can do that afterwards, General; and then nobody will dare surmise it’s out of weakness. For to be sure and certain, he ought to right her fame; that’s no more than his duty, after once he has satisfied his own. But a man’s honour is dearest to him of all things. A wife’s a bauble to it-not worth a thought.’
The suffocating was now beginning but just as Desdemona begged to be spared–
But alf han our–
the door-keeper forced his way into the pit, and called out–‘Pray, is one Miss Tyrold here in the play-house?’
The sisters, in much amazement hung back, entreating the gentlemen to screen them; and the man, receiving no answer, went away.
While wondering what this could mean, the play was finished, when one of the comedians, a brother of the Worcestershire Desdemona, came to the pit door, calling out–‘Hi’m desired to hask hif Miss Camilla Tyrold’s hany way ere hin the ouse, for hi’m hordered to call er hout, for her Huncle’s hill and dying.’
A piercing shriek from Camilla now completed the interruption of all attention to the performance, and betrayed her hiding place. Concealment, indeed, was banished her thoughts, and she would herself have opened the box door to rush out, had not the Major anticipated her, seizing, at the same time, her hand to conduct her through the crowd.
LAVINIA, almost equally terrified, followed her sister; and Sir Sedley, burying all foppery in compassion and good nature, was foremost to accompany and assist. Camilla had no thought but to get instantly to Cleves; she considered not how; she only forced herself rapidly on, persuaded she could walk it in ten minutes, and ejaculating incessantly, ‘My Uncle!-my dear Uncle!’–
They almost instantly encountered Edgar, who, upon the fatal call, had darted round to meet them, and finding each provided with an attendant, inquired whose carriage he should seek?
Camilla, in a broken voice, answered she had no carriage, and should walk.
‘Walk?’ he repeated; ‘you are near five miles from Cleves!’
Scarce in her senses, she hurried on without reply.
‘What carriage did you come in, Miss Tyrold?’ said Edgar to Lavinia.
‘We came with Mrs. Arlbery.’
‘Mrs. Arlbery?-she has been gone this half hour; I met her as I entered.’
Camilla had now rushed out of doors, still handed by the Major.
‘If you have no carriage in waiting,’ said Edgar, ‘make use, I beseech you, of mine!’
‘O, gladly! O, thankfully!’ cried Camilla, almost sobbing out her words.
He flew then to call for his chaise and the door-keeper, for whom Sir Sedley had inquired, came to them, accompanied by Jacob.
‘O, Jacob!’ she cried, breaking violently from the Major, ‘tell me!-tell me!-my Uncle!-my dearest Uncle!’
Jacob, in a tone of deep and unfeigned sorrow, said, his Master had been seized suddenly with the gout in his stomach, and that the doctor, who had been instantly fetched, had owned there was little hope.
She could hear no more; the shock overpowered her, and she sunk nearly senseless into the arms of her sister.
She was recovered, however, almost in a minute, and carried by Edgar into his chaise, in which he placed her between himself and the weeping Lavinia; hastily telling the two gentlemen, that his intimate connection with the family authorized his assisting and attending them at such a period.
This was too well known to be disputed; and Sir Sedley and the Major, with great concern, uttered their good wishes and retreated.
Jacob had already been for Mr. Tyrold who had set off instantaneously on horseback.
Camilla spoke not a word for the first mile, which was spent in an hysteric sobbing: but, recovering a little afterwards, and sinking on the shoulder of her sister, ‘O, Lavinia!’ she cried, ‘should we lose my Uncle–’
A shower of tears wetted the neck of Lavinia, who mingled with them her own, though less violently, from having less connection with Sir Hugh, and a sensibility less ungovernable.
She called herself upon the postillion to drive faster, and pressed Edgar continually to hurry him; but though he gave every charge she could desire, so much swifter were her wishes than any possible speed, that twenty times she entreated to get out, believing she could walk quicker than the horses galloped.
When they arrived at the park gate, she was with difficulty held back from opening the chaise door; and when, at length, they stopt at the house porch, she could not wait for the step, and before Edgar could either precede or prevent her, threw herself into the arms of Jacob, who, having just dismounted, was fortunately at hand to save her from falling.
She stopt not to ask any question; ‘My Uncle!-my Uncle!’ she cried, impetuously, and, rushing past all she met, was in his room in a moment.
Edgar, though he could not obstruct, followed her close, dreading lest Sir Hugh might already be no more, and determined, in that case, to force her from the fatal spot.
Eugenia, who heard her footstep, received her at the door, but took her immediately from the room, softly whispering, while her arms were thrown round her waist–‘He will live! he will live, my sister! his agonies are over-he is fallen asleep, and he will live!’
This was too sudden a joy for the desponding Camilla, whose breath instantly stopt, and who must have fallen upon the floor, had she not been caught by Edgar; who, though his own eyes copiously overflowed with delight, at such unexpected good news of the universally beloved Baronet, had strength and exertion sufficient to carry her downstairs into the parlour, accompanied by Eugenia.
There, hartshorn and water presently revived her, and then, regardless of the presence of Edgar, she cast herself upon her knees, to utter a fervent thanksgiving, in which Eugenia, with equal piety, though more composure, joined.
Edgar had never yet beheld her in a light so resplendent–What a heart, thought he, is here! what feelings, what tenderness, what animation!–O, what a heart!-were it possible to touch it!
The two sisters went both gently up stairs, encouraging and congratulating each other in soft whispers, and stationed themselves in an ante-room: Mr. Tyrold, by medical counsel, giving directions that no one but himself should enter the sick chamber.
Edgar, though he only saw the domestics, could not persuade himself to leave the house till near two o’clock in the morning: and by six, his anxiety brought him thither again. He then heard, that the Baronet had passed a night of more pain than danger, the gout having been expelled his stomach, though it had been threatening almost every other part.
Three days and nights passed in this manner; during which, Edgar saw so much of the tender affections, and softer character of Camilla, that nothing could have withheld him from manifesting his entire sympathy in her feelings, but the unaccountable circumstance of her starting forth from a back seat at the play, where she had sat concealed, attended by the Major, and without any matron protectress.
Miss Margland, meanwhile, scowled at him, and Indiana pouted in vain. His earnest solicitude for Sir Hugh surmounted every such obstacle to his present visits at Cleves; and he spent there almost the whole of his time.
On the fourth day of the attack, Sir Hugh had a sleep of five hours’ continuance, from which he awoke so much revived, that he raised himself in his bed, and called out–‘My dear Brother! you are still here?-you are very good to me, indeed; poor sinner that I am! to forgive me for all my bad behaviour to your Children.’
‘My dearest Brother! my Children, like myself, owe you nothing but kindness and beneficence; and, like myself, feel for you nothing but gratitude and tenderness.’
‘They are very good, very good indeed,’ said Sir Hugh, with a deep sigh; ‘but Eugenia!-poor little Eugenia has nearly been the death of me; though not meaning it in the least, being all her life as innocent as a lamb.’
Mr. Tyrold assured him, that Eugenia was attached to him with the most unalterable fondness. But Sir Hugh said, that the sight of her, returning from Etherington, with nearly the same sadness as ever, had wounded him to the heart, by shewing him she would never recover; which had brought back upon him all his first contrition, about the smallpox, and the fall from the plank, and had caused his conscience to give him so many twitches, that it never let him rest a moment, till the gout seized upon his stomach, and almost took him off at once.
Mr. Tyrold attributed solely to his own strong imagination the idea of the continuance of the dejection of Eugenia, as she had left Etherington calm, and almost chearful. He instantly, therefore, fetched her, intimating the species of consolation she could afford.
‘Kindest of Uncles!’ cried she, ‘is it possible you can ever, for a moment, have doubted the grateful affection with which your goodness has impressed me from my childhood? Do me more justice, I beseech you, my dearest Uncle! recover from this terrible attack, and you shall soon see your Eugenia restored to all the happiness you can wish her.’
‘Nobody has got such kind nieces as me!’ cried Sir Hugh, again dissolving into tenderness; ‘for all nobody has deserved so ill of them. My generous little Camilla, forgave me from the very first, before her young soul had any guile in it, which, God knows, it never has had to this hour, no more than your own. However, this I can tell you, which may serve to keep you from repenting being good, and that is, that your kindness to your poor Uncle may be the means of saving a christian’s life; which, for a young person at your age, is as much as can be expected: for I think, I may yet get about again, if I could once be assured I should see you as happy as you used to be; and you’ve been the contentedest little thing, till those unlucky market-women, that ever was seen: always speaking up for the servants, and the poor, from the time you were eight years old. And never letting me be angry, but taking every body’s part, and thinking them all as good as yourself, and only wanting to make them as happy.’
‘Ah, my dear Uncle! how kind a memory is yours! retaining only what can give pleasure, and burying in oblivion whatever might cause pain!–’
‘Is my Uncle well enough to speak?’ cried Camilla, softly opening the door, ‘and may I-for one single moment,-see him?’–
‘That’s the voice of my dear Camilla!’ said Sir Hugh; ‘come in, my little love, for I shan’t shock your tender heart now, for I’m going to get better.’
Camilla, in an ecstasy, was instantly at his bedside, passionately exclaiming, ‘My dear, dear Uncle! will you indeed recover?–’
Sir Hugh, throwing his feeble arms round her neck, and leaning his head upon her shoulder, could only faintly articulate, ‘If God pleases, I shall, my little darling, my heart’s delight and joy! But don’t vex, whether I do or not, for it is but in the course of nature for a man to die, even in his youth; but how much more when he comes to be old? Though I know you can’t help missing me, in particular at the first, because of all your goodness to me.’
‘Missing you? O my Uncle! we can never be happy again without you! never never!-when your loved countenance no longer smiles upon us,-when your kind voice no longer assembles us around you!–’
‘My dear child-my own little Camilla,’ cried Sir Hugh, in a faint voice, ‘I am ready to die!’
Mr. Tyrold here forced her away, and his brother grew so much worse, that a dangerous relapse took place, and for three days more, the physician, the nurse, and Mr. Tyrold, were alone allowed to enter his room.
During this time, the whole family suffered the truest grief, and Camilla was inconsolable.
When again he began to revive, he called Mr. Tyrold to him, and said that this second shake persuaded him he had but a short time more for this world; and begged therefore he would prepare him for his exit.
Mr. Tyrold complied, and found, with more happiness than surprise, his perfect and chearful resignation either to live or to die, rejoicing as much as himself, in the innocent benevolence of his past days.
Composed and strengthened by religious duties, he then desired to see Eugenia and Indiana, that he might give them his last exhortations and counsel, in case of a speedy end.
Mr. Tyrold would fain have spared him this touching exertion, but he declared he could not go off with a clear conscience, unless he told them the advice which he had been thinking of for them, between whiles, during all his illness.
Mr. Tyrold then feared that opposition might but discompose him, and summoned his youngest daughter and his niece, charging them both to repress their affliction, lest it should accelerate what they most dreaded.
Camilla, always upon the watch, glided in with them, supplicating her Father not to deny her admittance; though fearful of her impetuous sorrows, he wished her to retreat; but Sir Hugh no sooner heard her murmuring voice, than he declared he would have her refused nothing, though he had meant to take a particular leave of her alone, for the last thing of all.
Gratefully thanking him, she advanced trembling to his bedside; solemnly promising her Father that no expression of her grief should again risk agitating a life and health so precious.
Sir Hugh then desired to have Lavinia called also, because, though he had thought of nothing to say to her, she might be hurt, after he was gone, in being left out.
He was then raised by pillows and sat upright, and they knelt round his bed. Mr. Tyrold entreated him to be concise, and insisted upon the extremest forbearance and fortitude in his little audience. He seated himself at some distance, and Sir Hugh, after swallowing a cordial medicine, began:
‘My dear Nieces, I have sent for you all upon a particular account, which I beg you to listen to, because, God only knows whether I may ever be able to give you so much advice again. I see you all look very melancholy, which I take very kind of you. However don’t cry, my little dears, for we must all go off, so it matters but little the day or the hour; dying being, besides, the greatest comfort of us all, taking us off from our cares; as my Brother will explain to you better than me.
‘The chief of what I have got to say, in regard to what I have been studying in my illness, is for you two, my dear Eugenia and Indiana; because, having brought you both up, I can’t get it out of my head what you’ll do, when I am no longer here to keep you out of the danger of bad designers.
‘My hope had been to have seen you both married while I was alive and amongst you, and I made as many plans as my poor head knew how, to bring it about; but we’ve all been disappointed alike, for which reason we must put up with it properly.
‘What I have now last of all, to say to you, my little dears, is three maxims, which may serve for you all four alike, though I thought of them, at first, only for you two.
‘In the first place, Never be proud: if you are, your superiors will laugh at you, your equals won’t love you, and your dependants will hate you. And what is there for poor mortal man to be proud of?–Riches!-why they are but a charge, and if we don’t use them well, we may envy the poor beggar that has so much less to answer for.–Beauty!-why, we can neither get it when we haven’t it; nor keep it when we have it.–Power!-why we scarce ever use it one way, but what we are sorry we did not use it another!
‘In the second place, Never trust a Flatterer. If a man makes you a great many compliments, always suspect him of some bad design, and never believe him your friend, till he tells you of some of your faults. Poor little things! you little imagine how many you have, for all you’re so good!
‘In the third place, Do no harm to others, for the sake of any good it may do to yourselves; because the good will last you but a little while; and the repentance will stick by you as long as you live, and what is worse, a great while longer, and beyond any count the best Almanack-maker knows how to reckon.
‘And now, my dear Nieces, this is all; except the recommending to my dear Eugenia to be kind to my poor servants, who have all used me so well, knowing I have nothing to leave them.’
Eugenia, suppressing her sobs, promised to retain them all, as long as they should desire to remain with her, and to provide for them afterwards.
‘I know, you’ll forget nobody, my dear little girl,’ cried the Baronet, ‘which makes me die contented; not even Mrs. Margland, a little particularity not being to be considered at one’s last end: and much less Dr. Orkborne, who has so much a better right from you. As to Indiana, she’ll have her own little fortune when she comes of age; and I dare say her pretty face will marry her before long.–And as to Clermont, he’ll come off rather short, finding I leave him nothing; but you’ll make up for the deficiency, by giving him the whole, as well as a good wife. As to Lionel, I leave him my blessing; and as to any other legacy I never happened to promise him any; which is very good luck for me, as well as my best excuse; and I may say the same to my dear Lavinia, which is the reason I called her in, because she may not often have an opportunity to hear a man speak upon his death-bed. However all I wish for is, that I could leave you all equal shares, as well as give Eugenia the whole.’
‘O my dear Uncle!’ exclaimed Eugenia, ‘make a new Will immediately! do everything your tenderness can dictate!-or tell me what I shall do in your name, and every word, every wish shall be sacredly obeyed!’
‘Dear, generous, noble girl! no! I won’t take from you a shilling! keep it all-nobody will spend it so well;-and I can’t give you back your beauty; so keep it, my dear, all, for my oath’s sake, when I am gone; and don’t make me die under a prevaricating; which would be but a grievous thing for a person to do; unless he was but a bad believer: which, God help us! there are enough, without my helping to make more.’
Mr. Tyrold now again remonstrated, motioning to the weeping group to be gone.
‘Ah! my dear Brother!’ said Sir Hugh, ‘you are the only right person that ought to have had it all, if it had not been for my poor weak brain, that made me always be looking askew, instead of strait forward. And indeed I always meant you to have had it for your life, till the smallpox put all things out of my head. However, I hope you won’t object to preach my funeral sermon, for all my bad faults, for nobody else will speak of me so kindly; which may serve as a better lesson for those I leave behind.’
Tears flowed fast down the cheeks of Mr. Tyrold, as he uttered whatever he could suggest most tenderly soothing to his Brother: and the young mourners, not daring to resist, were all gliding away, except Camilla, whose hand was fast grasped in that of her Uncle.
‘Ah, my Camilla,’ cried he, as she would gently have withdrawn it, ‘how shall I part with my little dear darling? this is the worst twitch to me of all, with all my contentedness! And the more because I know you love your poor old Uncle, just as well as if he had left you all he was worth, though you won’t get one penny by his death!’
‘O my dear, dearest Uncle–’ exclaimed Camilla, in a passionate flood of tears; when Mr. Tyrold, assuring them both the consequences might be fatal, tore her away from the bed and the room.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06