NOTWITHSTANDING the fears so justly excited from the mixt emotions and exertions of Sir Hugh, Mr. Tyrold had the happiness to see him fall into a tranquil sleep, from which he awoke without any return of pain; his night was quiet; the next day was still better; and the day following he was pronounced out of danger.
The rapture which this declaration excited in the house, and diffused throughout the neighbourhood, when communicated to the worthy baronet, gave a gladness to his heart that recompensed all he had suffered.
The delight of Camilla exceeded whatever she had yet experienced: her life had lost half its value in her estimation, while she believed that of her uncle to be in danger.
No one single quality is perhaps so endearing, from man to man, as good-nature. Talents excite more admiration; wisdom, more respect; and virtue, more esteem: but with admiration envy is apt to mingle, and fear with respect; while esteem, though always honourable, is often cold: but good-nature gives pleasure without any allay; ease, confidence, and happy carelessness, without the pain of obligation, without the exertion of gratitude.
If joy was in some more tumultuous, content was with none so penetrating as with Eugenia. Apprised now that she had been the immediate cause of the sufferings of her uncle, his loss would have given to her peace a blow irrecoverable; and she determined to bend the whole of her thoughts to his wishes, his comfort, his entire restoration.
To this end all her virtue was called in aid; a fear, next to aversion, having seized her of Clermont, from the apprehension she might never inspire in him such love as she had inspired in Bellamy, nor see in him, as in young Melmond, such merit as might raise similar sentiments for himself.
Molly Mill had not failed to paint to her the disappointment of Bellamy in not seeing her; but she was too much engrossed by the dangerous state of her uncle, to feel any compunction in her breach of promise; though touched with the account of his continual sufferings, she became very gentle in her reprimands to Molly for again meeting him; and, though Molly again disobeyed, she again was pardoned. He came daily to the lane behind the park pales, to hear news of the health of Sir Hugh, without pressing either for an interview or a letter; and Eugenia grew more and more moved by his respectful obsequiousness. She had yet said nothing to Camilla upon the subject; not only because a dearer interest mutually occupied them, but from a secret shame of naming a lover at a period so ungenial.
But now that Sir Hugh was in a fair way of recovery, her situation became alarming to herself. Openly, and before the whole house, she had solemnly been assigned to Clermont Lynmere; and, little as she wished the connexion, she thought it, from circumstances, her duty not to refuse it. Yet this gentleman had attended her so long, had endured so many disappointments, and borne them so much to her satisfaction, that, though she lamented her concession as an injury to Clermont, and grew ashamed to name it even to Camilla, she believed it would be cruelty unheard of to break it. She determined, therefore, to see him, to pronounce a farewell, and then to bend all her thoughts to the partner destined her by her friends.
Molly Mill was alone to accompany her to give her negative, her good wishes, and her solemn declaration that she could never again see or hear of him more. He could deem it no indelicacy that she suffered Molly to be present, since she was the negociator of his own choice.
Molly carried him, therefore, this news, with a previous condition that he was not to detain her mistress one minute. He promised all submission; and the next morning, after breakfast, Eugenia, in extreme dejection at the ungrateful task she had to perform, called for Molly, and walked forth.
Camilla, who was then accidentally in her own room, was, soon after, summoned by three smart raps to her chamber door.
There, to her great surprise, she saw Edgar, who, after a hasty apology, begged to have a few minutes conference with her alone.
She descended with him into the parlour, which was vacant.
‘You suspect, perhaps,’ said he, in an hurried manner, though attempting to smile, ‘that I mean to fatigue you with some troublesome advice; I must, therefore, by an abrupt question, explain myself. Does Mr. Bellamy still continue his pretensions to your sister Eugenia?’
Startled in a moment from all thoughts of self, that at first had been rushing with violence to her heart, Camilla answered, ‘No! why do you ask?’
‘I will tell you: In my regular visits here of late, I have almost constantly met him, either on foot or on horseback, in the vicinity of the park. I suspected he watched to see Eugenia; but I knew she now never left the house; and concluded he was ignorant of the late general confinement. This moment, however, upon my entrance, I saw him again; and, as he hastily turned away upon meeting my eye, I dismounted, gave my horse to my man, and determined to satisfy myself which way he was strolling. I then followed him to the little lane to the right of the park, where I perceived an empty post-chaise-and-four in waiting: he advanced, and spoke with the postillion–I came instantly into the house by the little gate. This may be accidental; yet it has alarmed me; and I ventured, therefore, thus suddenly to apply to you, in order to urge you to give a caution to Eugenia, not to walk out, just at present, unattended.’
Camilla thanked him, and ran eagerly to speak to her sister; but she was not in her room; nor was she with her uncle; nor yet with Dr. Orkborne. She returned uneasily to the parlour, and said she would seek her in the park.
Edgar followed; but they looked around for her in vain: he then, deeming the danger urgent, left her, to hasten to the spot where he had seen the post-chaise.
Camilla ran on alone; and, when she reached the park gate, perceived her sister, Molly Mill, and Bellamy, in the lane.
They heard her quick approach, and turned round.
The countenance of Bellamy exhibited the darkest disappointment, and that of Eugenia the most excessive confusion. ‘Now then, Sir,’ she cried, ‘delay our separation no longer.’
‘Ah, permit me,’ said he, in a low voice, ‘permit me to hope you will hear my last sad sentence, my final misery, another day!–I will defer my mournful departure for that melancholy joy, which is the last I shall feel in my wretched existence!’
He sighed so deeply, that Eugenia, who seemed already in much sorrow, could not utter an abrupt refusal; and, as Camilla now advanced, she turned from him, without attempting to say any thing further.
Camilla, in the delight of finding her sister safe, after the horrible apprehensions she had just experienced, could not speak to her for tears.
Abashed at once, and amazed, Eugenia faintly asked what so affected her? She gave no explanation, but begged her to turn immediately back.
Eugenia consented; and Bellamy, bowing to them both profoundly, with quick steps walked away.
Camilla asked a thousand questions; but Eugenia seemed unable to answer them.
In a few minutes they were joined by Edgar, who, walking hastily up to them, took Camilla apart.
He told her he firmly believed a villainous scheme to have been laid: he had found the chaise still in waiting, and asked the postillion to whom he belonged. The man said he was paid for what he did; and refused giving any account of himself. Bellamy then appeared: he seemed confounded at his sight; but neither of them spoke; and he left him and his chaise, and his postillion, to console one another. He doubted not, he said, but the design had been to carry Eugenia off, and he had probably only pretended to take leave, that the chaise might advance, and the postillion aid the elopement: though finding help at hand, he had been forced to give up his scheme.
Camilla even with rapture blest his fortunate presence; but was confounded with perplexity at the conduct of Eugenia. Edgar, who feared her heart was entangled by an object who sought only her wealth, proposed dismissing Molly Mill, that he might tell her himself the opinion he had conceived of Bellamy.
Camilla overtook her sister, who had walked on without listening to or regarding them; and, sending away Molly, told her Edgar wished immediately to converse with her, upon something of the utmost importance.
‘You know my high esteem of him,’ she answered; ‘but my mind is now occupied upon a business of which he has no information, and I entreat that you will neither of you interrupt me.’
Camilla, utterly at a loss what to conjecture, joined Mandlebert alone, and told him her ill success. He thought every thing was to be feared from the present state of the affair, and proposed revealing at once all he knew of it to Mr. Tyrold: but Camilla desired him to take no step till she had again expostulated with her sister, who might else be seriously hurt or offended. He complied, and said he would continue in the house, park, or environs, incessantly upon the watch, till some decisive measure were adopted.
Joining Eugenia then again, she asked if she meant seriously to encourage the addresses of Bellamy.
‘By no means,‘ she quietly answered.
‘My dear Eugenia, I cannot at all understand you; but it seems clear to me that the arrival of Edgar has saved you from some dreadful violence.’
‘You hurt me, Camilla, by this prejudice. From whom should I dread violence? from a man who-but too fatally for his peace-values me more than his life?’
‘If I could be sure of his sincerity,’ said Camilla, ‘I should be the last to think ill of him: but reflect a little, at least, upon the risk that you have run; my dear Eugenia! there was a post-chaise in waiting, not twenty yards from where I stopt you!’
‘Ah, you little know Bellamy! that chaise was only to convey him away; to convey him, Camilla, to an eternal banishment!’
‘But why, then, had he prevailed with you to quit the park?’
‘You will call me vain if I tell you.’
‘No; I shall only think you kind and confidential.’
‘Do me then the justice,’ said Eugenia, blushing, ‘to believe me as much surprised as yourself at his most unmerited passion: but he told me, that if I only cast my eyes upon the vehicle which was to part him from me for ever, it would not only make it less abhorrent to him, but probably prevent the loss of his senses.’
‘My dear Eugenia,’ said Camilla, half smiling, ‘this is a violent passion, indeed, for so short an acquaintance!’
‘I knew you would say that,’ answered she, disconcerted; ‘and it was just what I observed to him myself: but he satisfied me that the reason of his feelings being so impetuous was, that this was the first and only time he had ever been in love.–So handsome as he is!-what a choice for him to make!’
Camilla, tenderly embracing her, declared, ‘the choice was all that did him honour in the affair.’
‘He never,’ said she, a little comforted, ‘makes me any compliments; I should else disregard, if not disdain him: but indeed he seems, notwithstanding his own extraordinary manly beauty, to be wholly superior to external considerations.’
Camilla now forbore expressing farther doubt, from the fear of painful misapprehension; but earnestly entreated her to suffer Edgar to be entrusted and consulted: she decidedly, however, refused her consent. ‘I require no advice,’ cried she, ‘for I am devoted to my uncle’s will: to speak then of this affair would be the most cruel indelicacy, in publishing a conquest which, since it is rejected, I ought silently, though gratefully, to bury in my own heart.’
She then related the history of all that had passed to Camilla; but solemnly declared she would never, to any other human being, but him who should hereafter be entitled to her whole heart, betray the secret of the unhappy Bellamy.
THE wish of Camilla was to lay this whole affair before her father; but she checked it, from an apprehension she might seem displaying her duty and confidence at the expence of those of her sister; whose motives for concealment were intentionally the most pure, however, practically, they might be erroneous; and whom she both pitied and revered for her proposed submission to her uncle, in opposition to her palpable reluctance.
She saw not, however, any obstacle to consulting with Edgar, since he was already apprised of the business, and since his services might be essentially useful to her sister: while, with respect to herself, there seemed, at this time, more of dignity in meeting than shunning his friendly intercourse, since his regard for her seemed to have lost all its peculiarity. He has precisely, cried she, the same sentiments for my sisters as for me,-he is equally kind, disinterested, and indifferent to us all! anxious alike for Eugenia with Mr. Bellamy, and for me with the detestable Major! Be it so!-we can no where obtain a better friend; and I should blush, indeed, if I could not treat as a brother one who can treat me as a sister.
Tranquil, though not gay, she returned to converse with him; but when she had related what had passed, he confessed that his uneasiness upon the subject was increased. The heart of Eugenia appeared to him positively entangled; and he besought Camilla not to lose a moment in acquainting Mr. Tyrold with her situation.
She pleaded against giving this pain to her sister with energetic affection: her arguments failed to convince, but her eloquence powerfully touched him; and he contented himself with only entreating that she would again try to aid him with an opportunity of conversing with Eugenia.
This she could not refuse; nor could he then resist the opportunity to inquire why Mrs. Arlbery had left her and Lavinia at the play. She thanked him for remembering his character of her monitor, and acknowledged the fault to be her own, with a candour so unaffected, that, captivated by the soft seriousness of her manner, he flattered himself his fear of the Major was a chimera and hoped that, as soon as Sir Hugh was able to again join his family, no impediment would remain to his begging the united blessings of the two brothers to his views.
When Camilla told her sister the request of Edgar, she immediately suspected the attachment of Bellamy had been betrayed to him; and Camilla, incapable of any duplicity, related precisely how the matter had passed. Eugenia, always just, no sooner heard than she forgave it, and accompanied her sister immediately down stairs.
‘I must rest all my hope of pardon,’ cried Edgar, ‘for the part I am taking, to your conviction of its motive; a filial love and gratitude to Mr. Tyrold, a fraternal affection and interest for all his family.’
‘My own sisterly feelings,’ she answered, ‘make me both comprehend and thank your kind solicitude: but, believe me, it is now founded in error. I am shocked to find you informed of this unhappy transaction; and I charge and beseech that no interference may wound its ill-fated object, by suffering him to surmise your knowledge of his humiliating situation.’
‘I would not for the world give you pain,’ answered Edgar: ‘but permit me to be faithful to the brotherly character in which I consider myself to stand with you . . . all.’
A blush had overspread his face at the word Brotherly; while at that of all, which recovered him, a still deeper stained the cheeks of Camilla: but neither of them looked at the other; and Eugenia was too self-absorbed to observe either.
‘Your utter inexperience in life,’ he continued, ‘makes me, though but just giving up leading-strings myself, an adept in the comparison. Suffer me then, as such, to represent to you my fears, that your innocence and goodness may expose you to imposition. You must not judge all characters by the ingenuousness of your own; nor conclude, however rationally and worthily a mind such as yours might-may-and will inspire a disinterested regard, that there is no danger of any other, and that mercenary views are out of the question, because mercenary principles are not declared.’
‘I will not say your inference is severe,’ replied Eugenia, ‘because you know not the person of whom you speak: but permit me to make this irrefragable vindication of his freedom from all sordid motives; he has never once named the word fortune, neither to make any inquiries into mine, nor any professions concerning his own. Had he any inducement to duplicity, he might have asserted to me what he pleased, since I have no means of detection.’
‘Your situation,’ said Edgar, ‘is pretty generally known; and for his . . . pardon me if I hint it may be possible that silence is no virtue. However, since I am unacquainted, you say, with his character, will you give me leave to make myself better informed?’
‘There needs no investigation; to me it is perfectly known.’
‘Forgive me if I ask how!’
‘By his letters and by his conversation.’
A smile which stole upon the features of Edgar obliged him to turn his head another way; but presently recovering, ‘My dear Miss Eugenia,’ he cried, ‘will it not be most consonant to your high principles, and scrupulous delicacy, to lay the whole of what has passed before Mr. Tyrold?’
‘Undoubtedly, if my part were not strait forward. Had I the least hesitation, my father should be my immediate and decisive umpire. But . . . I am not at liberty even for deliberation!–I am not . . . I know . . . at my own disposal!’–
She blushed and looked down, confused; but presently, with firmness, added, ‘It is not, indeed, fit that I should be; my uncle completely merits to be in all things my director. To know his wishes, therefore, is not only to know, but to be satisfied with my doom. Such being my situation, you cannot misunderstand my defence of this unhappy young man. It is but simple justice to rescue an amiable person from calumny.’
‘Let us allow all this,’ said Edgar; ‘still I see no reason why Mr. Tyrold–’
‘Mr. Mandlebert,’ interrupted she, ‘you must do what you judge right. I can desire no one to abstain from pursuing the dictates of their own sense of honour. I leave you, therefore, unshackled: but there is no consideration which, in my opinion, can justify a female in spreading, even to her nearest connexions, an unrequited partiality. If, therefore, I am forced to inflict this undue mortification, upon a person to whom I hold myself so much obliged, an uneasiness will remain upon my mind, destructive of my forgetfulness of an event which I would, fain banish from my memory.’
She then refused to be any longer detained.
‘How I love the perfect innocence, and how I reverence the respectable singularity of that charming character!’ cried Edgar; ‘yet how vain are all arguments against such a combination of fearless credulity, and enthusiastic reasoning? What can we determine?’
‘I am happy to retort upon you that question,’ replied Camilla; ‘for I am every way afraid to act myself, lest I should hurt this dear sister, or do wrong by my yet dearer father.’
‘What a responsibility you cast upon me! I will not, however, shrink from it, for the path seems far plainer to me since I have had this conversation. Eugenia is at present safe; I see, now, distinctly, her heart is yet untouched. The readiness with which she met the subject, the openness with which she avows her esteem, the unembarrassed, though modest simplicity with which she speaks of his passion and his distress, all shew that her pity results from generosity, not from love. Had it been otherwise, with all her steadiness, all her philosophy, some agitation and anxiety would have betrayed her secret soul. The internal workings of hopes and fears, the sensitive alarms of repressed consciousness. . . . ’ A deep glow, which heated his face, forced him here to break off; and, abruptly leaving his sentence unfinished, he hastily began another.
‘We must not, nevertheless, regard this as security for the future, though it is safety for the present; nor trust her unsuspicious generosity of mind to the dangerous assault of artful distress. I speak without reserve of this man; for though I know him not, as she remonstrated, I cannot, from the whole circumstances of his clandestine conduct, doubt his being an adventurer. . . . You say nothing? tell me, I beg, your opinion.’
Camilla had not heard one word of this last speech. Struck with his discrimination between the actual and the possible state of Eugenia’s mind, and with the effect the definition had produced upon himself, her attention was irresistibly seized by a new train of ideas, till finding he waited for an answer, she mechanically repeated his last word ‘opinion?’
He saw her absence of mind, and suspected his own too palpable disturbance had occasioned it: but in what degree, or from what sensations, he could not conjecture. They were both some time silent; and then, recollecting herself, she said it was earnestly her wish to avoid disobliging her sister, by a communication, which, made by any one but herself, must put her into a disgraceful point of view.
Edgar, after a pause, said, they must yield, then, to her present fervour, and hope her sounder judgment, when less played upon, would see clearer. It appeared to him, indeed, that she was so free, at this moment, from any dangerous impression, that it might, perhaps, be even safer to submit quietly to her request, than to urge the generous romance of her temper to new workings. He undertook, meantime, to keep a constant watch upon the motions of Bellamy, to make sedulous inquiries into his character and situation in life, and to find out for what ostensible purpose he was in Hampshire: entreating leave to communicate constantly to Camilla what he might gather, and to consult with her, from time to time, upon what measures should be pursued: yet ultimately confessing, that if Eugenia did not steadily persist in refusing any further rejections, he should hold himself bound in conscience to communicate the whole to Mr. Tyrold.
Camilla was pleased, and even thankful for the extreme friendliness and kind moderation of this arrangement; yet she left him mournfully, in a confirmed belief his regard for the whole family was equal.
Eugenia, much gratified, promised she would henceforth take no step with which Edgar should not first be acquainted.
MR. Tyrold saw, at first, the renewed visits of Edgar at Cleves with extreme satisfaction; but while all his hopes were alive from an intercourse almost perpetual, he perceived, with surprise and perplexity, that his daughter became more and more pensive after every interview: and as Edgar, this evening, quitted the house, he observed tears start into her eyes as she went up stairs to her own room.
Alarmed and disappointed, he thought it now high time to investigate the state of the affair, and to encourage or prevent future meetings, as it appeared to him to be propitious or hopeless.
Penetrated with the goodness, while lamenting the indifference of Edgar, Camilla had just reached her room; when, as she turned round to shut her door, Mr. Tyrold appeared before her.
Hastily, with the back of her hand, brushing off the tears from her eyes, she said, ‘May I go to my uncle, Sir? . . . can my uncle admit me?’
‘He can always admit you,’ he answered; ‘but, just now, you must forget him a moment, and consign yourself to your father.’
He then entered, shut the door, and making her sit down by him, said, ‘What is this sorrow that assails my Camilla? Why is the light heart of my dear and happy child thus dejected?’
Speech and truth were always one with Camilla; who, as she could not in this instance declare what were her feelings, remained mute and confounded.
‘Hesitate not, my dear girl,’ cried he kindly, ‘to unbosom your griefs or your apprehensions, where they will be received with all the tenderness due to such a confidence, and held sacred from every human inspection; unless you permit me yourself to entrust your best and wisest friend.’
Camilla now trembled, but could not even attempt to speak.
He saw her disorder, and presently added, ‘I will forbear to probe your feelings, when you have satisfied me in one doubt;–Is the sadness I have of late remarked in you the effect of secret personal disturbance, or of disappointed expectation?’
Camilla could neither answer nor look up: she was convinced, by this question, that the subject of her melancholy was understood, and felt wholly overcome by the deeply distressing confusion, with which wounded pride and unaffected virgin modesty impress a youthful female, in the idea of being suspected of a misplaced, or an unrequited partiality.
Her silence, a suffocating sigh, and her earnest endeavour to hide her face, easily explained to Mr. Tyrold all that passed within; and respecting rather than wishing to conquer a shame flowing from fearful delicacy, ‘I would spare you,’ he said, ‘all investigation whatever, could I be certain you are not called into any action; but, in that case, I know not that I can justify to myself so implicit a confidence, in youth and inexperience so untried in difficulties, so unused to evil or embarrassment as yours. Tell me then, my dear Camilla, do you sigh under the weight of any disingenuous conduct? or do you suffer from some suspence which you have no means of terminating?’
‘My dearest father, no!’ cried she, sinking upon his breast. ‘I have no suspence!’
She gasped for breath.
‘And how has it been removed, my child?’ said Mr. Tyrold, in a mournful tone; ‘has any deception, any ungenerous art–’
‘O no, no! . . . he is incapable . . . he is superior . . . he . . . ‘ She stopt abruptly; shocked at the avowal these few words at once inferred of her partiality, of its hopelessness, and of its object.
She walked, confused, to a comer of the room, and, leaning against the wainscot, enveloped her face in her handkerchief, with the most painful sensations of shame.
Mr. Tyrold remained in deep meditation. Her regard for Edgar he had already considered as undoubted, and her undisguised acknowledgment excited his tenderest sympathy: but to find she thought it without return, and without hope, penetrated him with grief. Not only his own fond view of the attractions of his daughter, but all he had observed, even from his childhood, in Edgar, had induced him to believe she was irresistibly formed to captivate him; and what had lately passed had seemed a confirmation of all he had expected. Camilla, nevertheless, exculpated him from all blame; and, while touched by her artlessness, and honouring her truth, he felt, at least, some consolation to find that Edgar, whom he loved as a son, was untainted by deceit, unaccused of any evil. He concluded that some unfortunate secret entanglement, or some mystery not yet to be developed, directed compulsatorily his conduct, and checked the dictates of his taste and inclination.
Gently, at length, approaching her, ‘My dearest child,’ he said, ‘I will ask you nothing further; all that is absolutely essential for me to know, I have gathered. You will never, I am certain, forget the noble mother whom you are bound to revere in imitating, nor the affectionate father whom your ingenuousness renders the most indulgent of your friends. Dry up your tears then, my Camilla, and command your best strength to conceal for ever their source, and, most especially . . . from its cause.’
He then embraced, and left her.
‘Yes, my dearest father,’ cried she, as she shut the door, ‘most perfect and most lenient of human beings! yes, I will obey your dictates; I will hide till I can conquer this weak emotion, and no one shall ever know, and Edgar least of all, that a daughter of yours has a feeling she ought to disguise!’
Elevated by the kindness of a father so adored, to deserve his good opinion now included every wish. The least severity would have chilled her confidence, the least reproof would have discouraged all effort to self-conquest; but, while his softness had soothed, his approbation had invigorated her; and her feelings received additional energy from the conscious generosity with which she had represented Edgar as blameless. Blameless, however, in her own breast, she could not deem him: his looks, his voice, his manner. . . . words that occasionally dropt from him, and meanings yet more expressive which his eyes or his attentions had taken in charge, all, from time to time, had told a flattering tale, which, though timidity and anxious earnestness had obscured from her perfect comprehension, her hopes and her sympathy had prevented from wholly escaping her. Yet what, internally, she could not defend she forgave; and, acquitting him of all intentional deceit, concluded that what he had felt for her, he had thought too slight and immaterial to deserve repressing on his own part, or notice on her’s . To continue with him her present sisterly conduct was all she had to study, not doubting but that what as yet was effort, would in time become natural.
Strengthened thus in fortitude, she descended chearfully to supper, where Mr. Tyrold, though he saw with pain that her spirits were constrained, felt the fondest satisfaction in the virtue of her exertion.
Her night passed in the consolation of self-applause. My dear father, thought she, will see I strive to merit his lenity, and that soothing consideration with the honourable friendship of Edgar, will be sufficient for the happiness of my future life, in the single and tranquil state in which it will be spent.
Thus comforted, she again met the eye of Mr. Tyrold the next day at breakfast; in the midst of which repast Edgar entered the parlour. The tea she was drinking was then rather gulped than sipped; yet she maintained an air of unconcern, and returned his salutation with apparent composure.
Edgar, while addressing to Mr. Tyrold his inquiries concerning Sir Hugh, saw, from the window, his servant, whom he had out-galloped, thrown with violence from his horse. He rushed out of the parlour; and the first person to rise, with involuntary intent to follow him, was Camilla. But, as she reached the hall-door, she saw that the man was safe, and perceived that her father was the only person who had left the room besides herself. Ashamed, she returned, and found the female party collected at the windows.
Hoping to retrieve the error of her eagerness, she seated herself at the table, and affected to finish her breakfast.
Eugenia told her they had discovered the cause of the accident, which had been owing to a sharp stone that had penetrated into the horse’s hoof, and which Edgar was now endeavouring to extract.
A general scream, just then, from the window party, and a cry from Eugenia of ‘O Edgar!’ carried her again to the hall-door with the swiftness of lightning, calling out, ‘Where? . . . What? . . . Good Heaven!’. . . .
Molly Mill, accidentally there before her, said, as she approached, that the horse had kicked Mr. Mandlebert upon the shoulder.
Every thing but tenderness and terror was now forgotten by Camilla; she darted forward with unrestrained velocity, and would have given, in a moment, the most transporting amazement to Edgar, and to herself the deepest shame, but that Mr. Tyrold, who alone had his face that way, stopt, and led her back to the house, saying, ‘There is no mischief; a bee stung the poor animal at the instant the stone was extracted, and the surprise and pain made it kick; but, fortunately, without any bad effect. I wish to know how your uncle is; I should be glad you would go and sit with him till I can come.’
With these words he left her; and, though abashed and overset, she found no sensation so powerful as joy for the safety of Edgar.
Still, however, too little at ease for conversing with her uncle, she went straight to her own chamber, and flew involuntarily to a window, whence the first object that met her eyes was her father, who was anxiously looking up. She retreated, utterly confounded, and threw herself upon a chair at the other end of the room.
Shame now was her only sensation. The indiscretion of her first surprise, she knew, he must forgive, though she blushed at its recollection; but a solicitude so pertinacious, an indulgence so repeated of feelings he had enjoined her to combat . . . how could she hope for his pardon? or how obtain her own, to have forfeited an approbation so precious?
She could not go to her uncle; she would have remained where she was still summoned to dinner, if the house-maid, after finishing all her other work, had not a third time returned to inquire if she might clean her room.
She then determined to repair to the library, where she was certain only to encounter Eugenia, who would not torment, or Dr. Orkborne, who would not perceive her: but at the bottom of the stairs she was stopt by Miss Margland, who, with a malicious smile, asked if she was going to hold the bason?
‘What bason?’ cried she, surprised.
‘The bason for the surgeon.’
‘What surgeon?’ repeated she, alarmed.
‘Mr. Burton, who is come to bleed Mr. Mandlebert.’
She asked nothing more. She felt extremely faint, but made her way into the park, to avoid further conference.
Here, in the most painful suspence, dying for information, yet shirking whoever could give it her, she remained, till she saw the departure of the surgeon. She then went round by a back way to the apartment of Eugenia, who informed her that the contusion, though not dangerous, was violent, and that Mr. Tyrold had insisted upon immediate bleeding. The surgeon had assured them this precaution would prevent any ill consequence; but Sir Hugh, hearing from the servants what had happened, had desired that Edgar would not return home till the next day.
The joy of Camilla, that nothing was more serious, banished all that was disagreeable from her thoughts, till she was called back to reflections less consoling, by meeting Mr. Tyrold, as she was returning to her own room; who, with a gravity unusual, desired to speak with her, and preceded her into the chamber.
Trembling, and filled with shame, she followed, shut the door, and remained at it without daring to look up.
‘My dear Camilla,’ cried he with earnestness, ‘let me not hope in vain for that exertion you have promised me, and to which I know you to be fully equal. Risk not, my dear girl, to others, those outward marks of sensibility which, to common or unfeeling observers, seem but the effect of an unbecoming remissness in the self-command which should dignify every female who would do herself honour. I had hoped, in this house at least, you would not have been misunderstood; but I have this moment been undeceived: Miss Margland has just expressed a species of compassion for what she presumes to be the present state of your mind, that has given me the severest pain.’
He stopt, for Camilla looked thunderstruck.
Approaching her, then, with a look of concern, and a voice of tenderness, he kindly took her hand, and added: ‘I do not tell you this in displeasure, but to put you upon your guard. You will hear from Eugenia that we shall not dine alone; and from what I have dropt you will gather how little you can hope to escape scrutiny. Exert yourself to obviate all humiliating surmises, and you will amply be repaid by the balm of self-approbation.’
He then kissed her, and quitted the room.
She now remained in utter despair: the least idea of disgrace totally broke her spirit, and she sat upon the same spot on which Mr. Tyrold had left her, till the ringing of the second dinner bell.
She then gloomily resolved to plead an head-ache, and not to appear.
When a footman tapt at her door, to acquaint her every body was seated at the table, she sent down this excuse: forming to herself the further determination, that the same should suffice for the evening, and for the next morning, that she might avoid the sight of Edgar, in presence either of her father or Miss Margland.
Eugenia, with kind alarm, came to know what was the matter, and informed her, that Sir Hugh had been so much concerned at the accident of Edgar, that he had insisted upon seeing him, and, after heartily shaking hands, had promised to think no more of past mistakes and disappointments, as they had now been cleared up to the county, and desired him to take up his abode at Cleves for a week.
Camilla heard this with mixt pleasure and pain. She rejoiced that Edgar should be upon his former terms with her beloved uncle; but how preserve the caution demanded from her for so long a period, in the constant sight of her now watchful father, and the malicious Miss Margland?
She had added to her own difficulties by this present absconding, and, with severe self-blame, resolved to descend to tea. But, while settling how to act, after her sister had left her, she was struck with hearing the name of Mandlebert pronounced by Mary, the house-maid, who was talking with Molly Mill upon the landing place. Why it had been spoken she knew not; but Molly answered: ‘Dearee me, never mind; I’ll help you to do his room, if Nanny don’t come in time. My little mistress would rather do it herself, than he should want for anything.’
‘Why, it’s natural enough,’ said Mary, ‘for young ladies to like young gentlemen; and there’s none other comes a nigh ’em, which I often thinks dull enough for our young misses. And, to be certain, Mr. Mandlebert would be as pretty a match for one of ’em as a body could desire.’
‘And his man,’ said Molly, ‘is as pretty a gentleman sort of person, to my mind, as his master. I’m sure I’m as glad as my young lady when they comes to the house.’
‘O, as to Miss Eugeny,’ said Mary, ‘I believe, in my conscience, she likes our crack-headed old Doctor as well as e’er a young gentleman in Christendom; for there she’ll sit with him, hour by hour, poring over such a heap of stuff as never was seed, reading, first one, then t’other, God knows what; for I believe never nobody heard the like of it before; and all the time never give the old Doctor a cross word.–’
‘She never given nobody a cross word,’ interrupted Molly; ‘if I was Mr. Mandlebert, I’d sooner have her than any of ’em, for all she’s such a nidging little thing.’
‘For certain,’ said Mary, ‘she’s very good, and a deal of good she does, to all as asks her; but Miss Camilla for my money. She’s all alive and merry, and makes poor master young again to look at her. I wish Mr. Mandlebert would have her, for I have overheard Miss Margland telling Miss Lynmere she was desperate fond of him, and did all she could to get him.’
Camilla felt flushed with the deepest resentment, and could scarcely command herself to forbear charging Miss Margland with this persecuting cruelty.
Nanny, the under house-maid, now joining them, said she had been detained to finish altering a curtain for Miss Margland. ‘And the cross old Frump,’ she added, ‘is in a worse spite than ever, and she kept abusing that sweet Mr. Mandlebert to Miss Lynmere all the while, till she went down to dinner, and she said she was sure it was all Miss Camilla’s doings his staying here again, for she could come over master for any thing: and she said she supposed it was to have another catch at the young ‘Squire’s heart, but she hoped he would not be such a fool.’
‘I’m sure I wish he would,’ cried Molly Mill, ‘if it was only to spite her, she’s such a nasty old viper. And Miss Camilla’s always so good-natured, and so affable, she’d make him a very agreeable wife, I dare say.’
‘And she’s mortal fond of him, that’s true,’ said Mary, ‘for when they was both here, I always see her a running to the window, to see who was a coming into the park, when he was rode out; and when he was in the house, she never so much as went to peep, if there come six horses, one after t’other. And she was always a saying, “Mary, who’s in the parlour? Mary, who’s below?” while he was here; but before he come, duce a bite did she ask about nobody.’
‘I like when I meets her,’ said Molly Mill, ‘to tell her Mr. Mandlebert’s here, Miss; or Mr. Mandlebert’s there, Miss;–Dearee me, one may almost see one self in her eyes, it makes them shine so.’
Camilla could endure no more; she arose, and walked about the room; and the maids, who had concluded her at dinner, hearing her step, hurried away, to finish their gossiping in the room of Mandlebert.
Camilla now felt wholly sunk; the persecutions of Miss Margland seemed nothing to this blow: they were cruel, she could therefore repine at them; they were unprovoked, she could therefore repel them: but to find her secret feelings, thus generally spread, and familiarity commented upon, from her own unguarded conduct, exhausted, at once, patience, fortitude, and hope, and left her no wish but to quit Cleves while Edgar should remain there.
Certain, however, that her father would not permit her to return to Etherington alone, a visit to Mrs. Arlbery was the sole refuge she could suggest; and she determined to solicit his permission to accept immediately the invitation of that lady.
CAMILLA waited in the apartment of Mr. Tyrold till he came up stairs, and then begged his leave to spend a few days at the Grove; hinting, when he hesitated, though with a confusion that was hardly short of torture, at what had passed amongst the servants.
He heard her with the tenderest pity, and the kindest praise of her sincerity; and, deeply as he was shocked to find her thus generally betrayed, he was too compassionate to point out, at so suffering a moment, the indiscretions from which such observations must have originated. Yet he saw consequences the most unpleasant in this rumour of her attachment; and though he still privately hoped that the behaviour of Mandlebert was the effect of some transient embarrassment, he wished her removed from all intercourse with him that was not sought by himself, while the incertitude of his intentions militated against her struggles for indifference. The result, therefore, of a short deliberation was to accede to her request.
Camilla then wrote her proposition to Mrs. Arlbery, which Mr. Tyrold sent immediately by a stable-boy of the baronet’s .
The answer was most obliging; Mrs. Arlbery said she would herself fetch her the next morning, and keep her till one of them should be tired.
The relief which this, at first, brought to Camilla, in the week’s exertions it would spare, was soon succeeded by the most acute uneasiness for the critical situation of Eugenia, and the undoubted disapprobation of Edgar. To quit her sister at a period when she might serve her; . . . to forsake Cleves at the moment Edgar was restored to it, seemed selfish even to herself, and to him must appear unpardonable. ‘Alas!’ she cried, ‘how for ever I repent my hasty actions! Why have I not better struggled against my unfortunate feelings?’
She now almost hated her whole scheme, regretted its success, wished herself suffering every uneasiness Miss Margland could inflict, and all the shame of being watched and pitied by every servant in the house, in preference to deserting Eugenia, and making Mandlebert deem her unworthy. But self-upbraiding was all that followed her contrition: Mrs. Arlbery was to fetch her by appointment; and it was now too late to trifle with the conceding goodness of her father.
She did not dare excuse herself from appearing at breakfast the next morning, lest Mr. Tyrold should think her utterly incorrigible to his exhortations.
Edgar earnestly inquired after her health as she entered the room; she slightly answered she was better; and began eating, with an apparent eagerness of appetite: while he, who had expected some kind words upon his own accident, surprised and disappointed, could swallow nothing.
Mr. Tyrold, seeing and pitying what passed in her mind, gave her a commission, that enabled her, soon, to leave the room without affectation; and, happy to escape, she determined to go down stairs no more till Mrs. Arlbery arrived. She wished to have conversed first upon the affairs of Eugenia with Edgar: but to name to him whither she was herself going, when she could not possibly name why; to give to him a surprise that must recoil upon herself in disapprobation, was more than she could endure. She had invested him with full powers to counsel and to censure her; he would naturally use them to dissuade her from a visit so ill-timed; and what could she urge in opposition to his arguments what would not seem trifling or wilful?
The present moment was all that occupied, the present evil all that ever alarmed the breast of Camilla: to avoid him, therefore, now, was the whole of her desire, unmolested with one anxiety how she might better meet him hereafter.
She watched at her window till she saw the groom of Mrs. Arlbery gallop into the Park. She hastened then to take leave of Sir Hugh, whom Mr. Tyrold had prepared for her departure; but, at the door of his apartment, she encountered Edgar.
‘You are going out?’ cried he, perceiving an alteration in her dress.
‘I am . . . just going to . . . to speak to my uncle,’ cried she, stammering and entering the room at the same moment.
Sir Hugh kindly wished her much amusement, and hoped she would make him long amends when he was better. She took leave; but again, on the landing-place, met Edgar, who, anxious and perplexed, watched to speak to her before she descended the stairs. Eagerly advancing, ‘Do you walk?’ he cried; ‘may I ask? or . . . am I indiscreet?’
She answered she had something to say to Eugenia, but should be back in an instant. She then flew to the chamber of her sister, and conjured her to consult Edgar in whatever should occur during her absence. Eugenia solemnly consented.
Jacob presently tapped at the door, to announce that Mrs. Arlbery was waiting below in her carriage.
How to pass or escape Edgar became now her greatest difficulty; she could suggest nothing to palliate to him the step she was taking, yet could still less bear to leave him to wild conjecture and certain blame: and she was standing irresolute and thoughtful, when Mr. Tyrold came to summon her.
After mildly representing the indecorum of detaining any one she was to receive by appointment, he took her apart, and putting a packet into her hand, ‘I would not,’ he said, ‘agitate your spirits this morning, by entering upon any topic that might disturb you: I have therefore put upon paper what I most desire you to consider. You will find it a little sermon upon the difficulties and the conduct of the female heart. Read it alone, and with attention. And now, my dearest girl, go quietly into the parlour, and let one brief and cheerful good-morrow serve for every body alike.’
He then returned to his brother.
She made Eugenia accompany her down stairs, to avoid any solitary attack from Edgar; he suffered them to pass; but followed to the parlour, where she hastily bid adieu to Miss Margland and Indiana; but was stopt from running off by the former, who said, ‘I wish I had known you intended going out, for I designed asking Sir Hugh for the chariot for myself this morning, to make a very particular visit.’
Camilla, in a hesitating voice, said she should not use her uncle’s chariot.
‘You walk then?’
‘No, . . . ma’am . . . but-there is-there is a carriage–I believe, now at the door.’
‘O dear, whose?’ cried Indiana; ‘do, pray, tell me where you are going?’ while Edgar, still more curious than either, held out his hand to conduct her, that he might obtain better information.
‘I am very glad your head-ache is so well,’ said Miss Margland; ‘but, pray-is Mr. Mandlebert to be your chaperon?’
They both blushed, though both affected not to hear her: but, before they could quit the room, Indiana, who had run to a bow-window, exclaimed, ‘Dear! if there is not Mrs. Arlbery in a beautiful high phaeton!”
Edgar, astonished, was now as involuntarily drawing back, as Camilla, involuntarily, was hurrying on: but Miss Margland, insisting upon an answer, desired to know if she should return to dinner?
She stammered out, No. Miss Margland pursued her to ask at what time the chariot was to fetch her; and forced from her a confession that she should be away for some days.
She was now permitted to proceed. Edgar, impressed with the deepest displeasure, leading her in silence across the hall: but, stopping an instant at the door, ‘This excursion,’ he gravely said, ‘will rescue you from no little intended importunity: I had purposed tormenting you, from time to time, for your opinion and directions with respect to Miss Eugenia.’
And then, bowing coldly to Mrs. Arlbery, who eagerly called out to welcome her, he placed her in the phaeton, which instantly drove off.
He looked after them for some time, almost incredulous of her departure: but, as his amazement subsided into certainty, the most indignant disappointment succeeded. That she could leave Cleves at the very moment he was reinstated in its society, seemed conviction to him of her indifference; and that she could leave it in the present state of the affairs of Eugenia, made him conclude her so great a slave to the love of pleasure, that every duty and all propriety were to be sacrificed to its pursuit. ‘I will think of her,’ cried he, ‘no more! She concealed from me her plan, lest I should torment her with admonitions: the glaring homage of the Major is better adapted to her taste,–She flies from my sincerity to receive his adulation,–I have been deceived in her disposition,–I will think of her no more!’
THE kind reception of Mrs. Arlbery, and all the animation of her discourse, were thrown away upon Camilla. An absent smile, and a few faint acknowledgments of her goodness were all she could return: Eugenia abandoned when she might have been served, Edgar contemning when he might have been approving . . . these were the images of her mind, which resisted entrance to all other.
Tired of fruitless attempts to amuse her, Mrs. Arlbery, upon their arrival at the Grove, conducted her to an apartment prepared for her, and made use of no persuasion that she would leave it before dinner.
Camilla then, too unhappy to fear any injunction, and resigned to whatever she might receive, read the discourse of Mr. Tyrold.
For Miss Camilla Tyrold.
IT is not my intention to enumerate, my dear Camilla, the many blessings of your situation; your heart is just and affectionate, and will not forget them: I mean but to place before you your immediate duties, satisfied that the review will ensure their performance.
Unused to, because undeserving control, your days, to this period, have been as gay as your spirits. It is now first that your tranquillity is ruffled; it is now, therefore, that your fortitude has its first debt to pay for its hitherto happy exemption.
Those who weigh the calamities of life only by the positive, the substantial, or the irremediable mischiefs which they produce, regard the first sorrows of early youth as too trifling for compassion. They do not enough consider that it is the suffering, not its abstract cause, which demands human commiseration. The man who loses his whole fortune, yet possesses firmness, philosophy, a disdain of ambition, and an accommodation to circumstances, is less an object of contemplative pity, than the person who, without one real deprivation, one actual evil, is first, or is suddenly forced to recognise the fallacy of a cherished and darling hope.
That its foundation has always been shallow is no mitigation of disappointment to him who had only viewed it in its super-structure. Nor is its downfall less terrible to its visionary elevator, because others had seen it from the beginning as a folly or a chimera; its dissolution should be estimated, not by its romance in the unimpassioned examination of a rational looker on, but by its believed promise of felicity to its credulous projector.
Is my Camilla in this predicament? had she wove her own destiny in the speculation of her wishes? Alas! to blame her, I must first forget, that delusion, while in force, has all the semblance of reality, and takes the same hold upon the faculties as truth. Nor is it till the spell is broken, till the perversion of reason and error of judgment become wilful, that Scorn ought to point ‘its finger’ or Censure its severity.
But of this I have no fear. The love of right is implanted indelibly in your nature, and your own peace is as dependant as mine and as your mother’s upon its constant culture.
Your conduct hitherto has been committed to yourself. Satisfied with establishing your principles upon the adamantine pillars of religion and conscience, we have not feared leaving you the entire possession of general liberty. Nor do I mean to withdraw it, though the present state of your affairs, and what for some time past I have painfully observed of your precipitance, oblige me to add partial counsel to standing precept, and exhortation to advice. I shall give them, however, with diffidence, fairly acknowledging and blending my own perplexities with yours.
The temporal destiny of woman is enwrapt in still more impenetrable obscurity than that of man. She begins her career by being involved in all the worldly accidents of a parent; she continues it by being associated in all that may environ a husband: and the difficulties arising from this doubly appendant state, are augmented by the next to impossibility, that the first dependance should pave the way for the ultimate. What parent yet has been gifted with the foresight to say, ‘I will educate my daughter for the station to which she shall belong?’ Let us even suppose that station to be fixed by himself, rarely as the chances of life authorise such a presumption; his daughter all duty, and the partner of his own selection solicitous of the alliance: is he at all more secure he has provided even for her external welfare? What, in this sublunary existence, is the state from which she shall neither rise nor fall? Who shall say that in a few years, a few months, perhaps less, the situation in which the prosperity of his own views has placed her, may not change for one more humble than he has fitted her for enduring, or more exalted than he has accomplished her for sustaining? The conscience, indeed, of the father is not responsible for events, but the infelicity of the daughter is not less a subject of pity.
Again, if none of these outward and obvious vicissitudes occur, the proper education of a female, either for use or for happiness, is still to seek, still a problem beyond human solution; since its refinement, or its negligence, can only prove to her a good or an evil, according to the humour of the husband into whose hands she may fall. If fashioned to shine in the great world, he may deem the metropolis all turbulence; if endowed with every resource for retirement, he may think the country distasteful. And though her talents, her acquirements, may in either of these cases be set aside, with an only silent regret of wasted youth and application; the turn of mind which they have induced, the appreciation which they have taught of time, of pleasure, or of utility, will have nurtured inclinations and opinions not so ductile to new sentiments and employments, and either submission becomes a hardship, or resistance generates dissention.
If such are the parental embarrassments, against which neither wisdom nor experience can guard, who should view the filial without sympathy and tenderness?
You have been brought up, my dear child, without any specific expectation. Your mother and myself, mutually deliberating upon the uncertainty of the female fate, determined to educate our girls with as much simplicity as is compatible with instruction, as much docility for various life as may accord with invariable principles, and as much accommodation with the world at large, as may combine with a just distinction of selected society. We hoped, thus, should your lots be elevated, to secure you from either exulting arrogance, or bashful insignificance; or should they, as is more probable, be lowly, to instil into your understandings and characters such a portion of intellectual vigour as should make you enter into an humbler scene without debasement, helplessness, or repining.
It is now, Camilla, we must demand your exertions in return. Let not these cares, to fit you for the world as you may find it, be utterly annihilated from doing you good, by the uncombated sway of an unavailing, however well-placed attachment.
We will not here canvass the equity of that freedom by which women as well as men should be allowed to dispose of their own affections. There cannot, in nature, in theory, nor even in common sense, be a doubt of their equal right: but disquisitions on this point will remain rather curious than important, till the speculatist can superinduce to the abstract truth of the position some proof of its practicability.
Meanwhile, it is enough for every modest and reasonable young woman to consider, that where there are two parties, choice can belong only to one of them: and then let her call upon all her feelings of delicacy, all her notions of propriety, to decide: Since Man must choose Woman, or Woman Man, which should come forward to make the choice? Which should retire to be chosen?
A prepossession directed towards a virtuous and deserving object wears, in its first approach, the appearance of a mere tribute of justice to merit. It seems, therefore, too natural, perhaps too generous, to be considered either as a folly or a crime. It is only its encouragement where it is not reciprocal, that can make it incur the first epithet, or where it ought not to be reciprocal that can brand it with the second. With respect to this last, I know of nothing to apprehend:-with regard to the first–I grieve to wound my dearest Camilla, yet where there has been no subject for complaint, there can have been none for expectation.
Struggle then against yourself as you would struggle against an enemy. Refuse to listen to a wish, to dwell even upon a possibility, that opens to your present idea of happiness. All that in future may be realised probably hangs upon this conflict. I mean not to propose to you in the course of a few days to reinstate yourself in the perfect security of a disengaged mind. I know too much of the human heart to be ignorant that the acceleration, or delay, must depend upon circumstance: I can only require from you what depends upon yourself, a steady and courageous warfare against the two dangerous underminers of your peace and of your fame, imprudence and impatience. You have champions with which to encounter them that cannot fail of success, . . . good sense and delicacy.
Good sense will shew you the power of self-conquest, and point out its means. It will instruct you to curb those unguarded movements which lay you open to the strictures of others. It will talk to you of those boundaries which custom forbids your sex to pass, and the hazard of any individual attempt to transgress them. It will tell you, that where allowed only a negative choice, it is your own best interest to combat against a positive wish. It will bid you, by constant occupation, vary those thoughts that now take but one direction, and multiply those interests which now recognise but one object: and it will soon convince you, that it is not strength of mind which you want, but reflection, to obtain a strict and unremitting control over your passions.
This last word will pain, but let it not shock you. You have no passions, my innocent girl, at which you need blush, though enough at which I must tremble!–For in what consists your constraint, your forbearance? your wish is your guide, your impulse is your action. Alas! never yet was mortal created so perfect, that every wish was virtuous, or every impulse wise!
Does a secret murmur here demand: if a discerning predilection is no crime, why, internally at least, may it not be cherished? whom can it injure or offend, that, in the hidden recesses of my own breast, I nourish superior preference of superior worth?
This is the question with which every young woman beguiles her fancy; this is the common but seductive opiate, with which inclination lulls reason.
The answer may be safely comprised in a brief appeal to her own breast.
I do not desire her to be insensible to merit; I do not even demand she should confine her social affections to her own sex, since the most innocent esteem is equally compatible, though not equally general with ours: I require of her simply, that, in her secret hours, when pride has no dominion, and disguise would answer no purpose, she will ask herself this question, ‘Could I calmly hear that this elect of my heart was united to another? Were I to be informed that the indissoluble knot was tied, which annihilates all my own future possibilities, would the news occasion me no affliction?’ This, and this alone, is the test by which she may judge the danger, or the harmlessness of her attachment.
I have now endeavoured to point out the obligations which you may owe to good sense. Your obligations to delicacy will be but their consequence.
Delicacy is an attribute so peculiarly feminine, that were your reflections less agitated by your feelings, you could delineate more distinctly than myself its appropriate laws, its minute exactions, its sensitive refinements. Here, therefore, I seek but to bring back to your memory what livelier sensations have inadvertently driven from it.
You may imagine, in the innocency of your heart, that what you would rather perish than utter can never, since untold, be suspected: and, at present, I am equally sanguine in believing no surmise to have been conceived where most it would shock you: yet credit me when I assure you, that you can make no greater mistake, than to suppose that you have any security beyond what sedulously you must earn by the most indefatigable vigilance. There are so many ways of communication independent of speech, that silence is but one point in the ordinances of discretion. You have nothing, in so modest a character, to apprehend from vanity or presumption; you may easily, therefore, continue the guardian of your own dignity: but you must keep in mind, that our perceptions want but little quickening to discern what may flatter them; and it is mutual to either sex to be to no gratification so alive, as to that of a conscious ascendance over the other.
Nevertheless, the female who, upon the softening blandishment of an undisguised prepossession, builds her expectation of its reciprocity, is, in common, most cruelly deceived. It is not that she has failed to awaken tenderness; but it has been tenderness without respect: nor yet that the person thus elated has been insensible to flattery; but it has been a flattery to raise himself, not its exciter in his esteem. The partiality which we feel inspires diffidence: that which we create has a contrary effect. A certainty of success in many destroys, in all weakens, its charm: the bashful excepted, to whom it gives courage; and the indolent, to whom it saves trouble.
Carefully, then, beyond all other care, shut up every avenue by which a secret which should die untold can further escape you. Avoid every species of particularity; neither shun nor seek any intercourse apparently; and in such meetings as general prudence may render necessary, or as accident may make inevitable, endeavour to behave with the same open esteem as in your days of unconsciousness. The least unusual attention would not be more suspicious to the world, than the least undue reserve to the subject of our discussion. Coldness or distance could only be imputed to resentment; and resentment, since you have received no offence, how, should it be investigated, could you vindicate! Or how, should it be passed in silence, secure from being attributed to pique and disappointment?
There is also another motive, important to us all, which calls for the most rigid circumspection. The person in question is not merely amiable; he is also rich: mankind at large, therefore, would not give merely to a sense of excellence any obvious predilection. This hint will, I know, powerfully operate upon your disinterested spirit.
Never from personal experience may you gather, how far from soothing, how wide from honourable, is the species of compassion ordinarily diffused by the discovery of an unreturned female regard. That it should be felt unsought may be considered as a mark of discerning sensibility; but that it should be betrayed uncalled for, is commonly, however ungenerously, imagined rather to indicate ungoverned passions, than refined selection. This is often both cruel and unjust; yet, let me ask–Is the world a proper confident for such a secret? Can the woman who has permitted it to go abroad, reasonably demand that consideration and respect from the community, in which she has been wanting to herself? To me it would be unnecessary to observe, that her indiscretion may have been the effect of an inadvertence which owes its origin to artlessness, not to forwardness: She is judged by those, who, hardened in the ways of men, accustom themselves to trace in evil every motive to action; or by those, who, preferring ridicule to humanity, seek rather to amuse themselves wittily with her susceptibility, than to feel for its innocence and simplicity.
In a state of utter constraint, to appear natural is, however, an effort too difficult to be long sustained; and neither precept, example, nor disposition, have enured my poor child to the performance of any studied part. Discriminate, nevertheless, between hypocrisy and discretion. The first is a vice; the second a conciliation to virtue. It is the bond that keeps society from disunion; the veil that shades our weakness from exposure, giving time for that interior correction, which the publication of our infirmities would else, with respect to mankind, make of no avail.
It were better no doubt, worthier, nobler, to meet the scrutiny of our fellow-creatures by consent, as we encounter, per force, the all-viewing eye of our Creator: but since for this we are not sufficiently without blemish, we must allow to our unstable virtues all the encouragement that can prop them. The event of discovered faults is more frequently callousness than amendment; and propriety of example is as much a duty to our fellow-creatures, as purity of intention is a debt to ourselves.
To delicacy, in fine, your present exertions will owe their future recompence, be your ultimate lot in life what it may. Should you, in the course of time, belong to another, you will be shielded from the regret that a former attachment had been published; or should you continue mistress of yourself, from a blush that the world is acquainted it was not by your choice.
I shall now conclude this little discourse by calling upon you to annex to whatever I have offered you of precept, the constant remembrance of your mother for example.
In our joint names, therefore, I adjure you, my dearest Camilla, not to embitter the present innocence of your suffering by imprudence that may attach to it censure, nor by indulgence that may make it fasten upon your vitals! Imprudence cannot but end in the demolition of that dignified equanimity, and modest propriety, which we wish to be uniformly remarked as the attributes of your character: and indulgence, by fixing, may envenom a dart that as yet may be gently withdrawn, from a wound which kindness may heal, and time may close; but which, if neglected, may wear away, in corroding disturbance, all your life’s comfort to yourself, and all its social purposes to your friends and to the world.
THE calm sadness with which Camilla had opened her letter was soon broken in upon by the interest of its contents, the view it displayed of her duties, her shame at her recent failures, and her fears for their future execution; and yet more than all, by the full decision in which it seemed written, that the unhappy partiality she had exposed, had been always, and would for ever remain unreturned.
She started at the intimation how near she stood to detection even from Edgar himself, and pride, reason, modesty, all arose to strengthen her with resolution, to guard every future conflict from his observation.
The article concerning fortune touched her to the quick. Nothing appeared to her so degrading as the most distant idea that such a circumstance could have any force with her. But the justice done to Edgar she gloried in, as an apology for her feelings, and exculpatory of her weakness. Her tears flowed fast at every expression of kindness to herself, her burning blushes dried them up as they were falling, at every hint of her feebleness, and the hopelessness of its cause; but wholly subdued by the last paragraph, which with reverence she pressed to her lips, she offered up, the most solemn vows of a strict and entire observance of every injunction which the letter contained.
She was thus employed, unnoticing the passage of time, when Mrs. Arlbery tapped at her door, and asked if she wished to dine in her own room.
Surprised at the question, and ashamed to be thus seen, she was beginning a thousand apologies for not being yet dressed: but Mrs. Arlbery, interrupting her, said, ‘I never listen to excuses. ’Tis the only battery that overpowers me. If, by any mischance, and in an evil hour, some country cousin, not knowing my ways, or some antediluvian prig, not minding them, happen to fall upon me with formal speeches, where I can make no escape, a fit of yawning takes me immediately, and I am demolished for the rest of the day.’
Camilla, attempting to smile, promised to play the country cousin no more. Mrs. Arlbery then observed she had been weeping; and taking her hand, with an examining look, ‘My lovely young friend,’ she cried, ‘this will never do!’
‘What, ma’am? . . . how? . . . what?..’
‘Nay, nay, don’t be frightened. Come down to dinner, and we’ll talk over the hows? and the whats? afterwards. Never mind your dress; we go no where this evening; and I make a point not to suffer any body to change their attire in my house, merely because the afternoon is taking place of the morning. It seems to me a miserable compliment to the mistress of a mansion, to see her guests only equip themselves for the table. For my part, I deem the garb that is good enough for me, good enough for my geese and turkies . . . apple and oyster-sauce included.’
Camilla then followed her down stairs, where she found no company but Sir Sedley Clarendel.
‘Come, my dear Miss Tyrold,’ said Mrs. Arlbery, ‘you and I may now consider ourselves as tête-à-tête; Sir Sedley won’t be much in our way. He hears and sees nothing but himself.’
‘Ecstatically flattering that!’ cried Sir Sedley; ‘dulcet to every nerve!’
‘O, I know you listen just now, because you are yourself my theme. But the moment I take another, you will forget we are either of us in the room.’
‘Inhuman to the quick!’ cried he; ‘barbarous to a point!’
‘This is a creature so strange, Miss Tyrold,’ said Mrs. Arlbery, ‘that I must positively initiate you a little into his character;-or, rather, into its own caricature; for as to character, he has had none intelligible these three years.–See but how he smiles at the very prospect of being portrayed, in defiance of all his efforts to look unconcerned! yet he knows I shall shew him no mercy. But, like all other egotists, the only thing to really disconcert him, would be to take no notice of him. Make him but the first subject of discourse, and praise or abuse are pretty much the same to him.’
‘O shocking! shocking! killing past resuscitation! Abominably horrid, I protest!’
‘O I have not begun yet. This is an observation to suit thousands. But do not fear; you shall have all your appropriations. Miss Tyrold, you are to be auditor and judge: and I will save you the time and the trouble which decyphering this animal, so truly a non-descript, might cost you.’
‘What a tremendous exordium! distressing to a degree! I am agued with trepidation!’
‘O you wretch! you know you are enchanted. But no further interruption! I send you to Coventry for the next ten minutes.
‘This man, my dear Miss Tyrold, whom we are about to delineate, was meant by nature, and prepared by art, for some thing greatly superior to what he now appears: but, unhappily, he had neither solidity of judgment, nor humility of disposition, for bearing meekly the early advantages with which he set out in life; a fine person, fine parts, and a fine estate, all dashed into consciousness at the presuming age of one and twenty. By this aggregate of wealthy, of mental, and of personal prosperity, he has become at once self spoilt, and world spoilt. Had you known him, as I have done, before he was seized with this systematic affectation, which, I am satisfied, causes him more study than the united pedants of both universities could inflict upon him, you would have seen the most delightful creature breathing! a creature combining, in one animated composition, the very essences of spirit, of gaiety, and of intelligence. But now, with every thing within his reach, nothing seems worth his attainment. He has not sufficient energy to make use of his own powers. He has no one to command him, and he is too indolent to command himself. He has therefore turned fop from mere wantonness of time and of talents; from having nothing to do, no one to care for, and no one to please. Take from him half his wit, and by lessening his presumption, you will cure him of all his folly. Rob him of his fortune, and by forcing him into exertion, you will make him one of the first men of his day. Deface and maim his features and figure, and by letting him see that to appear and be admired is not the same thing, you will render him irresistible.’
‘Have you done?’ cried the baronet smiling.
‘I protest,’ said Mrs. Arlbery, ‘I believe you are a little touched! And I don’t at all want to reform you. A perfect character only lulls me to sleep.’
‘Obliging in the superlative! I must then take as a consolation, that I have never given you a nap?’
‘Never, Clarendel, I assure you; and yet I don’t hate you! Vice is detestable; I banish all its appearances from my coteries; and I would banish its reality, too, were I sure I should then have any thing but empty chairs in my drawing-room-but foibles make all the charm of society. They are the only support of convivial raillery, and domestic wit. If formerly, therefore, you more excited my admiration, it is now, believe me, you contribute most to my entertainment.’
‘Condoling to a phenomenon! I have really, then, the vastly prodigious honour to be exalted in your fair graces to the level of a mountebank? a quack doctor? his merry Andrew? or any other such respectable buffoon?’
‘Piqued! piqued! I declare! this exceeds my highest ambition. But I must not weaken the impression by dwelling upon it.’
She then asked Camilla if she had any message for Cleves, as one of her servants was going close to the park gate.
Camilla, glad to withdraw, said she would write a few words to her father, and retired for that purpose.
‘What in the world, my dear Clarendel,’ said Mrs. Arlbery, ‘can I do with this poor thing? She has lost all her sprightliness, and vapours me but to look at her. She has all the symptoms upon her of being in the full meridian of that common girlish disease, an hopeless passion.’
‘Poor little tender dove!’ cried the baronet. “Twould be odious to cure her. Unfeeling to excess. What in nature can be half so mellifluously interesting? I shall now look at her with most prodigious softness. Ought one not to sigh as she approaches?’
‘The matter to be sure is silly enough,’ answered Mrs. Arlbery; ‘but, this nonsense apart, she is a charming girl. Besides, I perceive I am a violent favourite with her; and flattery, my dear Clarendel, will work its way, even with me! I really owe her a good turn: Else I should no longer endure her; for the tender passion has terribly flattened her. If we can’t restore her spirits, she will be a mere dead weight to me.’
‘O a very crush! a cannon ball would be a butterfly in the comparison! But who is the irresistible? What form has the little blind traitor assumed?’
‘O, assure yourself, that of the first young man who has come in her sight. Every damsel, as she enters the world, has some picture ready painted upon her imagination, of an object worthy to enslave her: and before any experience forms her judgment, or any comparison her taste, she is the dupe of the first youth who presents himself to her, in the firm persuasion of her ductile fancy, that he is just the model it had previously created.’
She then added, she had little doubt but young Mandlebert was the hero, from their private conferences after the raffle, and from her blushes when forced to name him.
‘Nay, nay, this is not the first incongruity!’ said the young baronet, ‘not romantic to outrage. Beech Park has nothing very horrific in it. Nothing invincibly beyond the standard of a young lady’s philosophy.’
‘Depend upon it, that’s the very idea its master has conceived of the matter himself. You wealthy Cavaliers rarely want flappers to remind you of your advantages. That Mandlebert, you must know is my aversion. He has just that air and reputation of faultlessness that gives me the spleen. I hope, for her sake, he won’t think of her; he will lead her a terrible life. A man who piques himself upon his perfections, finds no mode so convenient and ready for displaying them, as proving all about him to be constantly in the wrong. However, a character of that stamp rarely marries; especially if he is rich, and has no obstacles in his way. What can I do, then, for this poor thing? The very nature of her malady is to make her entertain false hopes. I am quite bent upon curing them. The only difficulty, according to custom, is how. I wish you would take her in hand yourself.’
‘I? . . . preposterous in the extreme! what particle of chance should I have against Mandlebert?’
‘O you vain wretch! to be sure you don’t know, that though he is rich, you are richer? and, doubtless, you never took notice, that though he is handsome, you are handsomer? As to manners, there is little to choose between you, for he is as much too correct, as you are too fantastic. In conversation, too, you are nearly upon a par, for he is as regularly too right, as you are ridiculously too wrong,-but O the charm of dear amusing wrong, over dull commanding right! you have but to address yourself to her with a little flattering distinction, and Mandlebert ever after will appear to her a pedant.’
‘What a wicked sort of sprite is a female wit!’ cried Sir Sedley, ‘breathing only in mischief! a very will-o’-the-wisp, personified and petticoated, shining but to lead astray. Dangerous past all fathom! Have the goodness, however, my fair Jack-o’-lanthorn, to intimate what you mean I should do with this languishing dulcinea, should I deliver her from thraldom? You don’t advise me, I presume, to take unto myself a wife? I protest I am shivered to the utmost point north at the bare suggestion! frozen to an icicle!’
‘No no; I know you far too confirmed an egotist for any thing but an old bachelor. Nor is there the least necessity to yoke the poor child to the conjugal plough so early. The only sacrifice I demand from you is a little attention; the only good I aim at for her, is to open her eyes, which have now a film before them, and to let her see that Mandlebert has no other pre-eminence, than that of having been the first young man with whom she became acquainted. Never imagine I want her to fall in love with you. Heaven help the poor victim to such a complication of caprice!’
‘Nay, now I am full south again! burning with shame and choler! How you navigate my sensations from cold to heat at pleasure! Cooke was a mere river water-man to you. My blood chills or boils at your command. Every sentence is a new climate. You waft me from extreme to extreme, with a rapidity absolutely dizzying. A balloon is a broad-wheeled wagon to you.’
‘Come, come, jargon apart, will you make yourself of any use? The cure of a romantic first flame is a better surety to subsequent discretion, than all the exhortations of all the fathers, and mothers, and guardians, and maiden aunts in the universe. Save her now, and you serve her for life;-besides giving me a prodigious pleasure in robbing that frigid Mandlebert of such a conquest.’
‘Unhappy young swain! I pity him to immensity. How has he fallen thus under the rigour of your wrath? Do you banish him your favour, like another Aristides, to relieve your ear from hearing him called the Just?’
‘Was ever allusion so impertinent? or, what is worse, for aught I can determine, so true? for, certainly, he has given me no offence; yet I feel I should be enchanted to humble him. Don’t be concerned for him, however; you may assure yourself he hates me. There is a certain spring in our propensities to one another, that involuntarily opens and shuts in almost exact harmony, whether of approbation or antipathy. Except, indeed, in the one article of love, which, distinguishing nothing, is ready to grasp at any thing.’
‘But why have you not recourse to the gallant cockade?’
‘The Major? O, I have observed, already, she receives his devoirs without emotion; which, for a girl who has seen nothing of the world, is respectable enough, his red coat considered. Whether the man has any meaning himself, or whether he knows there is such a thing, I cannot tell: but as I do not wish to see her surrounded with brats, while a mere brat herself, it is not worth inquiry. You are the thing, Clarendel, the very thing! You are just agreeable enough to annul her puerile fascination, yet not interesting enough to involve her in any new danger.’
‘Flattering past imitability! divine Arlberiana!’
‘Girls, in general,’ continued she, ‘are insupportable nuisances to women. If you do not set them to prate about their admirers, or their admired, they die of weariness;-if you do, the weariness reverberates upon yourself.’
Camilla here returned. She had written a few lines to Eugenia, to enforce her reliance upon Edgar, with an earnest request to be sent for immediately, if any new difficulty occurred. And she had addressed a few warmly grateful words to her father, engaging to follow his every injunction with her best ability.
Sir Sedley now rung for his carriage; and Camilla, for the rest of the evening, exerted herself to receive more cheerfully the kind civilities of her lively hostess.
AFTER two days passed with tolerable, though not natural cheerfulness at the Grove, Camilla was surprised by the arrival of the carriage of Sir Hugh with a short note from Eugenia.
To Miss Camilla Tyrold.
AN incident has happened that overpowers me with sadness and horror. I cannot write. I send the chariot. O! come and pass an hour or two at Cleves with your distressed.
Camilla could scarcely stop to leave a message for Mrs. Arlbery, before she flew to the carriage; nor even inquire for her uncle at Cleves, before she ran to the apartment of Eugenia, and, with a thousand tender caresses, desired to know what had thus cruelly afflicted her.
‘Alas!’ she answered, ‘my uncle has written to Clermont to come over,-and informed him with what view!’
She then related, that Indiana, the preceding day, had prevailed with Sir Hugh to let her go to the Middleton races; and she found he would be quite unhappy if she refused to be also of the party. That they had been joined by Bellamy on the race ground, who only, however, spoke to Miss Margland, as Edgar, watchful and uneasy, scarce let him even see anyone else. But the horses having taken fright, while they were in a great crowd, Bellamy had persuaded Miss Margland to alight, while the coach passed a terrible concourse of carriages; and, in that interval, he had contrived to whisper a claim upon her tacit promise of viewing the chaise which was for ever to convey him away from her; and, though her engagement to Edgar made her refuse, he had drawn her, she knows not herself how, from her party, and, while she was angrily remonstrating, and he seemed in the utmost despair at her displeasure, Edgar, who had been at first eluded by being on horseback, dismounted, forced his way to her, and almost carried her back to the coach, leaving Bellamy, who she was sure had no sinister design, nearly dead with grief at being unworthily suspected. Edgar, she however added, was fixed in believing he meant to convey her away; and Jacob, asserting he saw him purposely frighten the horses, had told his surmises to Sir Hugh; which he had corroborated by an account that the same gentleman had stopt to converse with her in her last return from Etherington. Sir Hugh, terrified, had declared he would no longer live without Clermont upon the spot. She had felt too much for his disturbance to oppose him at the moment, but had not imagined his plan would immediately be put into execution, till, early this morning, he had sent for her, and produced his letter of recall, which had taken him, he said, the whole night to compose and finish. Urged by surprise and dissatisfaction, she was beginning a little remonstrance; but found it made him so extremely unhappy, that, in the fear of a relapse, she desisted; and, with a shock she knew not when she should overcome, saw the fatal letter delivered for the post.
Camilla, with much commiseration, inquired if she had consulted with Edgar. Yes, she answered; and he had extorted her permission to relate the whole transaction to her father, though in a manner wide from justice to the ill-fated Bellamy; whose design might be extraordinary, but whose character, she was convinced, was honourable.
Camilla, whose education, though private, had not like that of Eugenia, been secluded and studious, was far less credulous than her sister, though equally artless. She knew, too, with regard to this affair, the opinion of Edgar, and to know and be guided by it was imperceptibly one. She declared herself, therefore, openly against Bellamy, and made her motives consist in a commentary upon his proceedings.
Eugenia warmly defended him, declaring the judgment of Camilla, and that of all her friends, to be formed in the dark; for that none of them could have doubted a moment his goodness or his honour, had they seen the distracted suffering that was marked in his countenance.
‘And what,’ cried Camilla, ‘says my father to all this?’
‘He says just what Edgar says:-he is all that is kind and good, but he has never beheld Bellamy-how, then, should he know him?’
A message came now from Sir Hugh to Camilla, that he would see her before she went, but that he was resting at present from the fatigue of writing a letter. He sent her, however, with his love, the foul copy, to amuse her till she could come to him.
To Clermont Lynmere Esq.
I HAVE had a very dangerous illness, and the doctors themselves are all surprised that I recovered; but a greater doctor than them was pleased to save me, for which I thank God. But as this attack has made me think more than ever I thought before, I am willing to turn my thoughts to good account.
Now, as I have not the gift of writing, at which, thank God, I have left off repining, from the reason of its great troublesomeness in acquiring, I can’t pretend to any thing of a fine letter, but shall proceed to business.
My dear Clermont, I write now to desire you would come over out of hand; which I hope you won’t take unkind, foreign parts being no great pleasure to see, in comparison of old England; besides which, I have another apology to offer, which is, having a fine prize in view for you; which is the more essential, owing to some unlucky circumstances, in which I did not behave quite as well as I wish, though very unwillingly; which I mention to you as a warning. However, you have no need to be cast down, for this prize will set all right, and make you as rich as a lord, at the same time that you are as wise as a philosopher. And as learning, though I have the proper respect for it, won’t serve to make the pot boil, you must needs be glad of more substantial fuel; for there’s no living upon air, however you students may affect to think eating mere gluttony.
Now, this prize is no other than your cousin Eugenia Tyrold, whom I don’t tell you is a beauty; but if you are the sensible lad I take you for, you won’t think the worse of her for wanting such frail perfections. Besides, we should not be too nice amongst relations, for if we are, what can we expect from the wide world? So I beg you to come over with all convenient speed, for fear of her falling a prey to some sharper, many such being to be found; especially at horse-races, and so forth. I remain,
Your affectionate uncle,
Eugenia, from motives of delicacy and of shame, declined reading the copy as she had declined reading the letter; but looked so extremely unhappy, that Camilla offered to plead with her uncle, and use her utmost influence that he would countermand the recall.
‘No,’ answered she, ‘no! ’tis a point of duty and gratitude, and I must bear its consequences.’
She was now called down to Mr. Tyrold. Camilla accompanied her.
He told her he had gathered, from the kind zeal and inquiries of Edgar, that Bellamy had certainly laid a premeditated plan for carrying her off, if she went to the races; which, as the whole neighbourhood was there, might reasonably be expected.
Eugenia, with fervour, protested such wickedness was impossible.
‘I am unwilling, my dear child,’ he answered, ‘to adulterate the purity of your thoughts and expectations, by inculcating suspicions; but, though nature has blessed you with an uncommon understanding, remember, in judgment you are still but fifteen, and in experience but a child. One thing, however, tell me candidly, is it from love of justice, or is it for your happiness you combat thus ardently for the integrity of this young man?’
‘For my justice, Sir!’ said she firmly.
‘And no latent reason mingles with and enforces it?’
‘None, believe me! save only what gratitude dictates.’
‘If your heart, then, is your own, my dear girl, do not be uneasy at the letter to Clermont. Your uncle is the last man upon earth to put any constraint upon your inclinations; and need I add to my dearest Eugenia, I am the last father to thwart or distress them? Resume, therefore, your courage and composure; be just to your friends, and happy in yourself.’
Reason was never thrown away upon Eugenia. Her mind was a soil which received and naturalized all that was sown in it. She promised to look forward with more cheerfulness, and to dwell no longer upon this agitating transaction.
Edgar now came in. He was going to Beech Park to meet Bellamy. He was charged with a long message for him from Sir Hugh; and an order to inform him that his niece was engaged; which, however, he declined undertaking, without first consulting her.
This was almost too severe a trial of the duty and fortitude of Eugenia. She coloured, and was quitting the room in silence: but presently turning back, ‘My uncle,’ she cried, ‘is too ill now for argument, and he is too dear to me for opposition:–Say, then, just what you think will most conduce to his tranquillity and recovery.’
Her father embraced her; Camilla shed tears; and Edgar, in earnest admiration, kissed her hand. She received their applause with sensibility, but looked down with a secret deduction from its force, as she internally uttered, ‘My task is not so difficult as they believe! touched as I am with the constancy of Bellamy–It is not Melmond who loves me! it is not Melmond I reject!–’
Edgar was immediately setting off, but, stopping him–‘One thing alone I beg,’ she said; ‘do not communicate your intelligence abruptly. Soften it by assurances of my kind wishes.–Yet, to prevent any deception, any future hope-say to him-if you think it right-that I shall regard myself, henceforward, as if already in that holy state so sacred to one only object.’
She blushed, and left them, followed by Camilla.
‘If born but yesterday,’ cried Mr. Tyrold, while his eyes glistened, ‘she could not be more perfectly free from guile.’
‘Yet that,’ said Edgar, ‘is but half her praise; she is perfectly free, also, from self! she is made up of disinterested qualities and liberal sensations. To the most genuine simplicity, she joins the most singular philosophy; and to knowledge and cultivation, the most uncommon, adds all the modesty as well as innocence of her extreme youth and inexperience.’
Mr. Tyrold subscribed with frankness to this just praise of his highly-valued daughter; and they then conferred upon the steps to be taken with Bellamy, whom neither of them scrupled to pronounce a mere fortune-hunter. All the inquiries of Edgar were ineffectual to learn any particulars of his situation. He said he was travelling for his amusement; but he had no recommendation to anyone; though, by being constantly well-dressed, and keeping a shewy footman, he had contrived to make acquaintance almost universally in the neighbourhood. Mr. Tyrold determined to accompany Edgar to Beech Park himself, and there, in the most peremptory terms, to assure him of the serious measures that would ensue, if he desisted not from his pursuit.
He then went to take leave of Camilla, who had been making a visit to her uncle, and was returning to the Grove.
He had seen with concern the frigid air with which Edgar had bowed to her upon his entrance, and with compassion the changed countenance with which she had received his formal salutation. His hope of the alliance now sunk; and so favourite a wish could not be relinquished without severe disappointment; yet his own was immaterial to him when he looked at Camilla, and saw in her expressive eyes the struggle of her soul to disguise her wounded feelings. He now regretted that she had not accompanied her mother abroad; and desired nothing so earnestly as any means to remove her from all intercourse with Mandlebert. He seconded, therefore, her speed to be gone, happy she would be placed where exertion would be indispensable; and gently, yet clearly, intimated his wish that she should remain at the Grove, till she could meet Edgar without raising pain in her own bosom, or exciting suspicions in his. Cruelly mortified, she silently acquiesced. He then said whatever was most kind to give her courage; but, dejected by her conscious failure, and afflicted by the change in Edgar, she returned to Mrs. Arlbery in a state of mind the most melancholy.
And here, nothing could be less exhilarating nor less seasonable than the first news she heard.
The regiment of General Kinsale was ordered into Kent, in the neighbourhood of Tunbridge: It was the season for drinking the water of that spring; and Mr. Dennel was going thither with his daughter. Sir Sedley Clarendel conceived it would be serviceable also to his own health; and had suddenly proposed to Mrs. Arlbery forming a party to pass a few weeks there. With a vivacity always ready for any new project, she instantly agreed to it, and the journey was settled to take place in three days. When Camilla was informed of this intended excursion, the disappointment with which it overpowered her was too potent for disguise: and Mrs. Arlbery was so much struck with it, that, during coffee, she took Sir Sedley apart, and said; ‘I feel such concern for the dismal alteration of that sweet girl, that I could prevail with myself, all love-lorn as she is, to take her with me to Tunbridge, if you will aid my hardy enterprise of driving that frozen composition of premature wisdom from her mind. If you are not as invulnerable as himself, you cannot refuse me this little sleight of gallantry.”
Sir Sedley gave a laughing assent, declaring, at the same time, with the strongest professed diffidence, his conscious inability. Mrs. Arlbery, in high spirits, said she scarce knew which would most delight her, to mortify Edgar, or restore Camilla to gaiety and independance. Yet she would watch, she said, that matters went no further than just to shake off a whining first love; for the last thing upon earth she intended was to entangle her in a second.
Camilla received the invitation with pleasure yet anxiety: for though glad to be spared returning to Cleves in a state of disturbance so suspicious, she was bitterly agitated in reflecting upon the dislike of Edgar to Mrs. Arlbery, the pains he had taken to prevent her mingling with this society, and the probably final period to his esteem and good-will, that would prove the result of her accompanying such a party to a place of amusement.
MRS. Arlbery accompanied Camilla the next day to Cleves, to ask permission of Mr. Tyrold for the excursion. She would trust the request to none but herself, conscious of powers of persuasion unused to repulse.
Mr. Tyrold was distressed by the proposition: he was not satisfied in trusting his unguarded Camilla to the dissipation of a public place, except under the wing of her mother; though he felt eager to remove her from Edgar, and rejoiced in any opportunity to allow her a change of scene, that might revive her natural spirits, and unchain her heart from its unhappy subjection.
Perceiving him undetermined, Mrs. Arlbery called forth all her artillery of eloquence and grace, to forward her conquest. The licence she allowed herself in common of fantastic command, gave way to the more feminine attraction of soft pleading: her satire, which, though never malignant, was often alarming, was relinquished for a sportive gaiety that diffused general animation; and Mr. Tyrold soon, though not caught like his daughter, ceased to wonder that his daughter had been caught.
In this indecision he took Camilla apart, and bad her tell him, without fear or reserve, her own feelings, her own wishes, her own opinion upon this scheme. She held such a call too serious and too kind for disguise: she hid her face upon his shoulder and wept; he soothed and encouraged her to confidence; and in broken accents, she then acknowledged herself unequal, as yet, to fulfilling his injunctions of appearing cheerful and easy, though sensible of their wisdom.
Mr. Tyrold, with a heavy heart, saw how much deeper was her wound, than the airiness of her nature had prepared him to expect, and could no longer hesitate in granting his consent. He saw it was her wish to go; but he saw that the pleasures of a public place had no share in exciting it. To avoid betraying her conscious mortification was her sole and innocent motive; and though he would rather have sent her to a more private spot, and have trusted her to a more retired character; he yet thought it possible, that what opportunity presented unsought, might, eventually, prove more beneficial than what his own choice would have dictated; for public amusements, to the young and unhackneyed, give entertainment without requiring exertion; and spirits lively as those of Mrs. Arlbery create nearly as much gaiety as they display.
Fixed, now, for the journey, he carried Camilla to her uncle to take leave. The prospect of not seeing her again for six weeks was gloomy to Sir Hugh; though he bore it better at this moment, when his fancy was occupied by arranging preparations for the return of Clermont, than he could have done at almost any other. He put into her hand a fifty pound Bank note for her expences, and when, with mingled modesty and dejection, she would have returned the whole, as unnecessary even to her wishes, Mr. Tyrold, interfering, made her accept twenty pounds. Sir Hugh pressed forward the original sum in vain; his brother, though her always averse to refuse his smallest desire, thought it here a duty to be firm, that the excursion, which he granted as a relief to her sadness, might not lead to pleasures ever after beyond her reach, nor to their concomitant extravagance. She could not, he knew, reside at Tunbridge with the oeconomy and simplicity to which she was accustomed at Etherington; but he charged her to let no temptation make her forget the moderate income of which alone she was certain; assuring her, that where a young woman’s expences exceeded her known expectations, those who were foremost to praise her elegance, would most fear to form any connection with her, and most despise or deride her in any calamity.
Camilla found no difficulty in promising the most exact observance of this instruction; her heart seemed in sackcloth and ashes, and she cared not in what manner her person should be arrayed.
Sir Hugh earnestly enjoined her not to fail to be at Cleves upon the arrival of Clermont, intimating that the nuptials would immediately take place.
She then sought Eugenia, whom she found with Dr. Orkborne, in a state of mind so perfectly calm and composed, as equally to surprise and rejoice her. She saw with pleasure that all Bellamy had inspired was the most artless compassion; for since his dismission had now positively been given, and Clermont was actually summoned, she devoted her thoughts solely to the approaching event, with the firm, though early wisdom which distinguished her character.
Indiana joined them; and, in a low voice, said to Camilla, ‘Pray, cousin, do you know where Mr. Macdersey is? because I am sadly afraid he’s dead.’
Camilla, surprised, desired to know why she had such an apprehension?
‘Because he told me he’d shoot himself through the brains if I was cruel-and I am sure I had no great choice given me: for, between ourselves, Miss Margland gave all the answers for me, without once stopping to ask me what I should chuse. So if he has really done it, the fault is more her’s than mine.’
She then said that just after Camilla’s departure the preceding day, Mr. Macdersey arrived, and insisted upon seeing her, and speaking to Sir Hugh, as he was ordered into Kent, and could not go so far in suspence. Sir Hugh was not well enough to admit him; and Miss Margland, upon whom the office devolved, took upon her to give him a positive refusal; and though she went into the room while he was there, never once would let her make an answer for herself.
Miss Margland, she added, had frightened Sir Hugh into forbidding him the house, by comparing him with Mr. Bellamy; but Mr. Macdersey had frightened them all enough, in return, as he went away, by saying, that as soon as ever Sir Hugh was well, he would call him out, because of his sending him word down stairs not to come to Cleves any more, for he had been disturbed enough already by another Irish fortune-hunter, that came after another of his nieces; and he was the more sure Mr. Macdersey was one of them, because of his being a real Irishman while Mr. Bellamy was only an Englishman. ‘But don’t you think now, cousin,’ she continued, ‘Miss Margland might as well have let me speak for myself?’
Camilla inquired if she was sorry for the rejection.
‘N . . . o,’ she answered, with some hesitation; ‘for Miss Margland says he’s got no rent-roll; besides, I don’t think he’s so agreeable as Mr. Melmond; only Mr. Melmond’s worth little or no fortune they say: for Miss Margland inquired about it, after Mr. Mandlebert behaved so. Else I can’t say I thought Mr. Melmond disagreeable.’
Mrs. Arlbery now sent to hasten Camilla, who, in returning to the parlour, met Edgar. He had just gathered her intended excursion, and, sick at heart, had left the room. Camilla felt the consciousness of a guilty person at his sight; but he only slightly bowed; and coldly saying, ‘I hope you will have much pleasure at Tunbridge,’ went on to his own room.
And there, replete with resentment for the whole of her late conduct, he again blessed Dr. Marchmont for his preservation from her toils; and, concluding the excursion was for the sake of the Major, whose regiment he knew to be just ordered into Kent, he centered every former hope in the one single wish that he might never see her more.
Camilla, shocked by such obvious displeasure, quitted Cleves with still increasing sadness; and Mrs. Arlbery would heartily have repented her invitation, but for her dependance upon Sir Sedley Clarendel.
At Etherington they stopt, that Camilla might prepare her package for Tunbridge. Mrs. Arlbery would not alight.
While Camilla, with a maid-servant, was examining her drawers, the chamber door was opened by Lionel, for whom she had just inquired, and who, telling her he wanted to speak to her in private, turned the maid out of the room.
Camilla begged him to be quick, as Mrs. Arlbery was waiting.
‘Why then, my dear little girl,’ cried he, ‘the chief substance of the matter is neither more nor less than this: I want a little money.’
‘My dear brother,’ said Camilla, pleasure again kindling in her eyes as she opened her pocket-book, ‘you could never have applied to me so opportunely. I have just got twenty pounds, and I do not want twenty shillings. Take it, I beseech you, any part, or all.’
Lionel paused and seemed half choaked. ‘Camilla,’ he cried presently, ‘you are an excellent girl. If you were as old and ugly as Miss Margland, I really believe I should think you young and pretty. But this sum is nothing. A drop of water to the ocean.’
Camilla now, drawing back, disappointed and displeased, asked how it was possible he should want more.
‘More, my dear child? why I want two or three cool hundred.’
‘Two or three hundred?’ repeated she, amazed.
‘Nay, nay, don’t be frightened. My uncle will give you two or three thousand, you know that. And I really want the money. It’s no joke, I assure you. It’s a case of real distress.’
‘Distress? impossible! what distress can you have to so prodigious an amount?’
‘Prodigious! poor little innocent! dost think two or three hundred prodigious?’
‘And what is become of the large sums extorted from my uncle Relvil?’
‘O that was for quite another thing. That was for debts. That’s gone and over. This is for a perfectly different purpose.’
‘And will nothing–O Lionel!-nothing touch you? My poor mother’s quitting England . . . her separation from my father and her family . . . my uncle Relvil’s severe attack . . . will nothing move you to more thoughtful, more praise-worthy conduct?’
‘Camilla, no preaching! I might as well cast myself upon the old ones at once. I come to you in preference, on purpose to avoid sermonising. However, for your satisfaction, and to spur you to serve me, I can assure you I have avoided all new debts since the last little deposit of the poor sick hypochondriac miser, who is pining away at the loss of a few guineas, that he had neither spirit nor health to have spent for himself.’
‘Is this your reasoning, your repentance, Lionel, upon such a catastrophe?’
‘My dear girl, I am heartily concerned at the whole business, only, as it’s over, I don’t like talking of it. This is the last scrape I shall ever be in while I live. But if you won’t help me, I am undone. You know your influence with my uncle. Do, there’s a dear girl, use it for your brother! I have not a dependance in the world, now, but upon you!’
‘Certainly I will do whatever I can for you,’ said she, sighing; ‘but indeed, my dear Lionel, your manner of going on makes my very heart ache! However, let this twenty pounds be in part, and tell me your very smallest calculation for what must be added?’
‘Two hundred. A farthing less will be of no use; and three will be of thrice the service. But mind! . . . you must not say it’s for me!’
‘How, then, can I ask for it?’
‘O, vamp up some dismal ditty.’
‘No, Lionel!’ exclaimed she, turning away from him; ‘you propose what you know to be impracticable.’
‘Well, then, if you must needs say it’s for me, tell him he must not for his life own it to the old ones.’
‘In the same breath, must I beg and command?’
‘O, I always make that my bargain. I should else be put into the lecture room, and not let loose again till I was made a milksop. They’d talk me so into the vapours, I should not be able to act like a man for a month to come.’
‘A man, Lionel?’
‘Yes, a man of the world, my dear; a knowing one.’
Mrs. Arlbery now sent to hasten her, and he extorted a promise that she would go to Cleves the next morning, and procure a draft for the money, if possible, to be ready for his calling at the Grove in the afternoon.
She felt this more deeply than she had time or courage to own to Lionel but her increased melancholy was all imputed to reflection, concerning Mandlebert by Mrs. Arlbery.
That lady lent her chaise the next morning, with her usual promptitude of good humour, and Camilla went to Cleves, with a reluctance that never before accompanied her desire to oblige.
Her visit was received most kindly by all the family, as merely an additional leave taking; in which light, though she was too sincere to place it, she suffered it to pass. Having no chance of being alone with her uncle by accident, she was forced to beg him, in a whisper, to request a tête-à-tête with her: and she then, covered with all the confusion of a partner in his extravagance, made the petition of Lionel.
Sir Hugh seemed much surprised, but protested he would rather part with his coat and waistcoat than refuse anything to Camilla. He gave her instantly a draft upon his banker for two hundred pounds; but added, he should take it very kind of her, if she would beg Lionel to ask him for no more this year, as he was really so hard run, he should not else be able to make proper preparations for the wedding, till his next rents became due.
Camilla was now surprised in her turn; and Sir Hugh then confessed, that, between presents and petitions, his nephew had had no less than five hundred pounds from him the preceding year, unknown to his parents; and that for this year, the sum she requested made the seventh hundred; without the least account for what purpose it was given.
Camilla now heartily repented being a partner in a business so rapacious, so unjustifiable, and so mysterious; but, kindly interrupting her apology, ‘Don’t be concerned, my dear,’ he cried, ‘for there’s no help for these things; though what the young boys do with all their money now-a-days, is odd enough, being what I can’t make out. However, he’ll soon be wiser, so we must not be too severe with him; though I told him, the last time, I had rather he would not ask me so often; which was being almost too sharp, I’m afraid, considering his youngness; for one can’t expect him to be an old man at once.’
Camilla gave voluntarily her word no such application should find her its ambassadress again: and though he would have dispensed with the promise, she made it the more readily as a guard against her own facility.
‘At least,’ cried the baronet, ‘say nothing to my poor brother, and more especially to your mother; it being but vexatious to such good parents to hear of such idleness, not knowing what to think of it; for it is a great secret, he says, what he does with it all; for which reason one can’t expect him to tell it. My poor brother, to be sure, had rather he should be studying hic, hÃ¦c, hoc; but, Lord help him! I believe he knows no more of that than I do myself; and I never could make out much meaning of it, any further than it’s being Latin; though I suppose, at the time, Dr. Orkborne might explain it to me, taking it for granted he did what was right.’
Camilla was most willing to agree to concealing from her parents what she knew must so painfully afflict them, though she determined to assume sufficient courage to expostulate most seriously with her brother, against whom she felt sensations of the most painful anger.
Again she now took leave; but upon re-entering the parlour, found Edgar there alone.
Involuntarily she was retiring; but the counsel of her father recurring to her, she compelled herself to advance, and say, ‘How good you have been to Eugenia! how greatly are we all indebted for your kind vigilance and exertion!’
Edgar, who was reading, and knew not she was in the house, was surprised, both by her sight and her address, out of all his resolutions; and, with a softness of voice he meant evermore to deny himself, answered, ‘To me? can any of the Tyrold family talk of being indebted to me?-my own obligations to all, to every individual of that name, have been the pride, have been-hitherto-the happiness of my life!–’
The word ‘hitherto,’ which had escaped, affected him: he stopt, recollected himself, and presently, more drily added, ‘Those obligations would be still much increased, if I might flatter myself that one of that race, to whom I have ventured to play the officious part of a brother, could forget those lectures, she can else, I fear, with difficulty pardon.’
‘You have found me unworthy your counsel,’ answered Camilla, gravely, and looking down; ‘you have therefore concluded I resent it: but we are not always completely wrong, even when wide from being right, I have not been culpable of quite so much folly as not to feel what I have owed to your good offices; nor am I now guilty of the injustice to blame their being withdrawn. You do surely what is wisest, though not-perhaps-what is kindest.’
To these last words she forced a smile; and, wishing him good morning, hurried away.
Amazed past expression, and touched to the soul, he remained, a few instants, immoveable; then, resolving to follow her, and almost resolving to throw himself at her feet, he opened the door she had shut after her: he saw her still in the hall, but she was in the arms of her father and sisters, who had all descended, upon hearing she had left Sir Hugh, and of whom she was now taking leave.
Upon his appearance, she said she could no longer keep the carriage; but, as she hastened from the hall, he saw that her eyes were swimming in tears.
Her father saw it too, with less surprise, but more pain. He knew her short and voluntary absence from her friends could not excite them: his heart ached with paternal concern for her; and, motioning everybody else to remain in the hall, he walked with her to the carriage himself, saying, in a low voice, as he put her in, ‘Be of better courage, my dearest child. Endeavour to take pleasure where you are going-and to forget what you are leaving: and, if you wish to feel or to give contentment upon earth, remember always, you must seek to make circumstance contribute to happiness, not happiness subservient to circumstance.’
Camilla, bathing his hand with her tears, promised this maxim should never quit her mind till they met again.
She then drove off.
‘Yes,’ she cried, ‘I must indeed study it; Edgar cares no more what becomes of me! resentment next to antipathy has taken place of his friendship and esteem!’
She wrote down in her pocket-book the last words of her father; she resolved to read them daily, and to make them the current lesson of her future and disappointed life.
Lionel, too impatient to wait for the afternoon, was already at the Grove, and handed her from the chaise. But, stopping her in the portico, ‘Well,’ he cried, ‘where’s my draft?’
‘Before I give it you,’ said she, seriously, and walking from the servants, ‘I must entreat to speak a few words to you.’
‘You have really got it, then?’ cried he, in a rapture; ‘you are a charming girl! the most charming girl I know in the world! I won’t take your poor twenty pounds: I would not touch it for the world. But come, where’s the draft? Is it for the two or the three?’
‘For the two; and surely, my dear Lionel–’
‘For the two? O, plague take it!-only for the two?–And when will you get me the odd third?’
‘O brother! O Lionel! what a question! Will you make me repent, instead of rejoice, in the pleasure I have to assist you?’
‘Why, when he was about it, why could he not as well come down like a gentleman at once? I am sure I always behaved very handsomely to him.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Why, I never frightened him; never put him beside his poor wits, like t’other poor nuncle. I don’t remember I ever did him an ill turn in my life, except wanting Dr. Pothook, there, to flog him a little for not learning his book. It would have been a rare sight if he had!–Don’t you think so?’
‘Rare, indeed, I hope!’
‘Why, now, what could he have done, if the Doctor had really performed it? He could not in justice have found fault, when he put himself to school to him. But he’d have felt a little queer. Don’t you think he would?’
‘You only want to make me laugh, to prevent my speaking to the purpose; but I am not disposed to laugh; and therefore–’
‘O, if you are not disposed to laugh, you are no company for me. Give me my draft, therefore.’
‘If you will not hear, I hope, at least, Lionel, you will think; and that may be much more efficacious. Shall I put up the twenty? I really do not want it. And it is all, all, all I can ever procure you! Remember that!’
‘What?-all?-this all?-what, not even the other little mean hundred?’
‘No, my dear brother! I have promised my uncle no further application–’
‘Why what a stingy, fusty old codger, to draw such a promise from you!’
‘Hold, hold, Lionel! I cannot endure to hear you speak in such a manner of such an uncle! the best, the most benevolent, the most indulgent–’
‘Lord, child, don’t be so precise and old maidish. Don’t you know it’s a relief to a man’s mind to swear, and say a few cutting things when he’s in a passion? when all the time he would no more do harm to the people he swears at, than you would, that mince out all your words as if you were talking treason, and thought every man a spy that heard you. Besides, how is a man the worse for a little friendly curse or two, provided he does not hear it? It’s a very innocent refreshment to a man’s mind, my dear; only you know nothing of the world.’
Mrs. Arlbery now approaching, he hastily took the draft, and, after a little hesitation, the twenty pounds, telling her, if she would not ask for him, she must ask for herself, and that he felt no compunction, as he was certain she might draw upon her uncle for every guinea he was worth.
He then heartily embraced her; said she was the best girl in the world, when she did not mount the pulpit, and rode off.
Camilla felt no concern at the loss of her twenty pounds: lowered and unhappy, she was rather glad than sorry that her means for being abroad were diminished, and that to keep her own room would soon be most convenient.
The next day was fixed for the journey.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06