« AnteriorContinuar »
common; that, in numerous instan- offence, hope failed not to whisper ces, the fatal malady lies dormant that the behaviour of her father, if and unsuspected, till some one pre- indeed it had reached her knowledge, conceived and rooted idea, which must be viewed by her with the same has warped the imagination, is acci. disapprobation as it was by myself. dentally called into play, and suc Youth is naturally vain and sanceeds, for a time, in driving reason guine, and I flattered myself that the from her throne.
time spent in her company at the Such, I began to be apprehensive, theatre had not been thrown away, might be the unhappy condition of though what on earth could have my fellow-traveller, when his emo taken her into that part of it, so action having at length in some degree companied, was a mystery beyond subsided, I ventured to direct his
my power to solve. If I had read attention to the faint streak of golden the language of her expressive eyes light that now marked the extremity aright, the penchant had been reciof the horizon, as the grey tints of procal ; and, as this delightful idea morning succeeded the darker sha- took possession of my imagination, dows of a night fast hastening to its the remembrance of his lordship’s close. But my hopes of thus divert- strange barshness comparatively ing his thoughts, from what I felt faded from my mind. I began to convinced was a subject of pain and rack my invention to furnish excuses distress to him, proved abortive. In for his conduct; an eager desire laid vain did I point out to his observa. hold upon me to unravel the mistion the beauties of the surrounding take, which I became more and more landscape, which every moment ren convinced must have taken place, dered more distinct; in vain did the and to receive the apologies which, mounting skylark welcome with his at the dénouement, he would uncheerful notes the first beam of the doubtedly tender to my acceptance rising sun, that glittered on his little with no small confusion of face. I breast, while all below lay yet un was roused from my reverie by a conscious of its cheering influence; circumstance that threatened utterly in vain did vegetation, redolent of to subvert all my castle-building in sweetness, convey to the charmed the very outset; this was no other sense the choicest perfume ; wrapt than the overturning of the coach, in a melancholy gloom, he appeared and my consequent immersion in a dead to the charms of nature that narrow but rapid stream, that ran surrounded him, while the few re beneath a bridge, on the centre of plies, which I at times succeeded in which we were when the accident eliciting, were so cold and constrain- occurred. What was the immediate ed, and pronounced in an air so dis cause of our sudden subversion is trait, that I at length ceased to impor more than I am able to state; whetune him by remarks, which only ther the tackling and cordage, so seemed to annoy him, and, turning plentifully lavished by “ Bill," upon my thoughts inward for the remain the fractured splinter-bar, had given der of the journey, became insensi- way, in spite of all the science of bly almost as abstracted as himself. honest Jack, or whether any other My cogitations, it must be confess- part of the machinery had been ed, were by no means of an agree- equally unsound, I cannot say; all able nature. Wounded in every I know is, that I found myself in a feeling by the unaccountable con moment up to my neck in the river. duct of Lord Manningham, I would Of all sublunary applications there have given worlds for the power to is perhaps not one which possesses panish his lovely daughter from my greater efficacy in a love case than a recollection, and to have “left them good sousing in cold water : if its to their pride,” but this I found my- effects fail to be permanent, they at self utterly incapable of performing; least give the fit a complete check my chains were too securely rivet for the time; and in cases where a ed to be so easily shaken off; I radical cure is out of the question, loved with all the intensity of a that is no trifling point gained. Heayoung and first passion; and as I ven is my witness-1 confess it with recalled to mind the pleasing thought shame--that for a full hour after my that she at least had given me no ducking, I thought no more of Ame
lia Stafford than I did of Lady well as some portion of his energy, Godiva.
returned, and he was at length able, Notwithstanding the impediment with the assistance of my arm, to thrown in my way by my borrowed regain the highroad.
Upper Benjamin,” I was not long The place where this disaster had in regaining the bank. The coach befallen us was fortunately just at man I found upon his legs: he had the entrance of a considerațle vilfallen against the parapet of the Jage, the inbabitants of which had, bridge, which, at the expense of a from no great distance, witnessed pretty severe bruise, had prevented our mishap, and now came running his going over. The same parapet down to offer their aid, and ask had also saved the carriage itself questions. These, in our present from being dashed upon the ground: dripping condition, I felt very little it rested against its edge; and though inclined to answer; so, cutting short the shock was severe, the occupants a long string of interrogatories, such of the interior were, through this " Whether the gentleman was fortunate interposition, much more much hurt?”_" Whether we had alarmed than injured. They were been in the water?"-a fact no hu. relieved from the awkwardness of man looker-on could possibly doubt their recumbent position, without for an instant, and others of a simi. much difficulty, by the assistance of lar cast, I proceeded, with as much the guard, who, clinging to the iron- expedition as the weakened state of work of his seat, had escaped being my protégé would admit of, to where thrown off at all. It was not till the a tall sign-post exposed to view a lapse of a few seconds had enabled kit.cat effigy of a gentleman with an me to recover the confusion I had iron cuirass and a bald head, which fallen into, from the united effects the neighbourhood had agreed, in of the tumble, and the quantity of courtesy to the landlord, to consider cold water I had unwillingly swal. a striking likeness of the Marquis of lowed, that I missed my companion. Granby. He was not on the bridge; he was
" Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round, nowhere to be seen. I rushed back to the spot where I had contrived to May sigh to think how oft he found
Where'er his various course has been, scramble out of the water, and, as I
His warmest welcome at an inn!" cast a hurried glance down the river, saw one of his arms rise above the So says Shenstone; and for my own surface, at some distance down the part, I am little inclined to dispute current, which was bearing him ra the truth of his axiom. On this ocpidly away. I flew rather than ran casion, especially, the round and along the bank, till I arrived opposite ruby-coloured face of our goodthe spot where I could behold him humoured landlady, Mrs Blenkinsop, faintly struggling to disencumber already shining with all the radiance himself of the cloak, which impeded of a well-scrubbed mahogany table, all his efforts, and would have redu- exhibited tenfold lustre as she wel. ced him, in a very few minutes comed us into a snug little room more, to a similar condition with behind the bar. This “ blest retreat” those immaterial beings for whose was furnished with a variety of huge “ revisiting the glimpses of the case-bottles, that promised much of moon” he had shewn himself so
comfort, and disclosed besides to our sturdy a stickler. If, however, his enraptured gaze the still more cheercloak had hitherto occasioned his ing prospect of a blazing fire-to danger, it now served as an instru- persons in our predicament, perhaps, ment of release from his perilous the greatest desideratum on earth. position, as the firm grasp I was It was in vain that I requested my enabled to take of it conduced not a companion to retire to bed; nor little to his preservation. When I were the assurances of Mrs Blenkinhad succeeded in dragging him up sop that her beds were well aired, the bank, he was so completely ex and good enough for a lord to lie hausted as to be incapable of sup on," of more avail : he persisted in porting himself, and indeed was his refusal, declaring that a tumbler scarcely sensible of his situation; of mulled port, and a change of but by degrees his recollection, as dress, were all that was requisite to
the restoration of his comfort. I wrong in hazarding this ill-timed thought otherwise ; but he was deaf pleasantry. When I named the re, to persuasion, and, like most obsti- doubted Roger, he recoiled with a nate people, carried his point. The shuddering earnestness, as if he had wine, by our landlady's assistance, been about to tread upon a viper; was soon procured ; and under the and his eyes gleamed with an exsame auspices a lad was despatched pression almost amounting to feroto the fractured vehicle for our bag- city. His nether lip quivered with gage.
suppressed emotion, and his voice The Marquis of Granby, whose faltered, as, after a brief pause, he hospitable walls now afforded us an indistinctly declined a proposal asylum, was, I well knew, in point which, from the smile that had lit up of distance, scarcely more than his countenance at its commencetwelve miles from Underdown, and ment, I made myself certain he as, now that the disarrangement would have accepted. Heartily my person had undergone, inside as vexed with myself at my want of well as out, was tolerably rectified, consideration, I apologized for the I found myself very little, if at all, allusion, and again pressed him to the worse for my aquatic adventure, accompany me. He continued, howI requested mine hostess, who was ever, firm in his refusal, while he evidently Lady of the ascendant, to shook his head mournfully, and, as inform me if her hotel, among its it now seemed to me,
more in other excellences, could afford the sorrow than in anger," telling me luxury of a post.chaise. In fact, I that he began to fear he had indeed did not feel by any means inclined overrated his strength when he proto trust my neck farther to a convey, posed continuing his journey so ance organized of such frail materials soon, that he should therefore give as woful experience had convinced up the idea, and seek such repose me the one from which I had so as his pillow might afford bim.” nearly met the fate of Phaeton, was I was not less pleased than surcomposed of; nor should I have re- prised at this determination, as I peated the experiment even had the really thought a good warm bed and delay I must have submitted to du- medical attendance most fitting by far ring the necessary repairs been out for a person who had suffered from of the question. With a multiplicity remaining in the water so long as he of courtsies, each succeeding one had done; I no longer therefore enlower than the former, the good. deavoured to shake his resolution, but natured little woman assured me contented myself with pressing him that I could be accommodated with earnestly to favour me with a visit "a very elegant” one, the unoccu- before he quitted that part of the pied corner of which I frankly offer- country. With an air and look soed to my new acquaintance, who lema even to dejection, he promised was, I found, as desirous as myself that he " would see me again ;” and, of proceeding with all convenient taking up my valise which I had despatch. At the same time I assu- thrown carelessly upon the table, red him, that if the urgency of his handed it to the multifarious personaffairs would allow him to accept the age who, in the several capacities of hospitality of the Hall, I could ven- boots, waiter, ostler, and occasionture, in the absence of my worthy ally chambermaid, was minister for uncle, its proprietor, to assure him the home department at the Granby's a cordial welcome from my mother, Head. Before he altogether relinadding, with more of levity than quished it to the grasp of the aforecaution, that “ a renowned ancestor said functionary, his eye of mine, one Sir Roger de Bullwin- the brass-plate which occupied its kle, who was said nightly to peram- centre. bulate the mansion armed cap-a-pie, “ Charles Stafford, Esq.” read he. might possibly furnish him with an “ That then is the name of my preadditional argument in favour of his server ?” theory of ghosts and goblins.”
“ Of your fellow-passenger," reThe words had hardly escaped turned I, as, giving up the valise to my lips when the change in his coun. the man who placed it in the chaise, tenance shewed me that I had been he took my band "Of your fellow,
passenger, and of one who hopes "adieu ! young gentleman, and may won to see you perfectly recovered Heaven grant that you may never from the effects of a ducking which have reason to curse bitterly the be would have been glad to have hour in which you drew me from zerented altogether.”
the stream!” I had one foot upon the step of He turned abruptly from me, and the chaise, Mister Boots was holding the postboy cracking his whip, set open the door and gazing on me off in a canter towards Underdown, with glances, sharpened by expecta- before I had half recovered from the tion - my, mysterious companion surprise my new friend's strange trung my hand strongly—“Adieu !” behaviour had thrown me into. uttered he in an agitated tone,
LITTLE more than an hour had I saw at once that some calamity elapsed when the tall chimneys of was impending over the house, and the Hall, which, like most of those had occasioned this unwonted grabelonging to buildings of the same vity in the most attached of its deera, towered high above its slanting pendents. Sir Oliver was absent; roofs and gable ends, appeared, my mother then was ill !-- was dead i rising over the summits of the lofty A cold shudder ran through my trees that embosomed the edifice, veins as the dreadful idea presented and giving to it, when viewed from itself to my imagination, and I exa distance, almost the air of a cas- perienced a degree of relief, amount. tellated mansion. There is some- ing to thankfulness, when I found thing in the return to our home, that my fears were not verified in bowerer short the period of our ab- their fullest extent, although but too sence may bave been, which always sufficient reason was afforded for my produces a kindly and complacent first apprehensions. feeling in our bosoms; and this feel Mrs Stafford had been seized with ing acquires tenfold strength, when sudden indisposition a few days be. we know that the roof we are revis fore my arrival, on perusing a letter siting contains beneath it hearts which she had received from Lonwhich will throb at our arrival with don, the contents of which had evisensations responsive to our own. dently created in her no slight deIn spite of the unpleasant and irri: gree of agitation. Her illness had tating circumstances which had oc at first excited much alarm, but it casioned my unexpected return, I was now hoped had taken a favourcould not help experiencing this able turn. "She had expressed a genial glow, as the chaise, issuing strong desire to see her son, and had from the long avenue of sturdy oaks, requested I might be summoned as the scene of my cousin Nicholas's soon as possible. An express had early achievements in the art of accordingly been got ready, but was borsemanship,
drew up to the steps countermanded afterwards by her which led to the antique portal,
over positive orders, since which she had whose bigh and pointed arch the sunk into a kind of apathetic lethara three golden fetterlocks of the Bull. gy; the more unaccountable, inaswinkles stood forth in strong relief. much as the first approaches of the
The current of my ideas under. disorder had been attended by sympwent a sudden and immediate revul. toms of so different and so much sion as the venerable butler pre more violent a nature. sented himself to receive me. The Such was the account imparted to subdued alacrity, the sober energy me by Jennings as I entered the vesof mander, with which this ancient tibule, and I had no reason either to retainer of the family was wont to doubt the accuracy of his intelliwelcome home any of its members
, gence, or to be for one moment at a had sunk into an appearance of sad loss to divine the cause which had ness and depression. As I hastily produced so lamentable an effect
. I Sprang past the inferior domestic have already said, that a strong afwho opened the chaise-door for me, fection for my mother was one of
the most rooted principles of my mained to hail her re-establishment, nature; it was entwined with the and had, in fact, from his known and very fibres of my heart; and a de- tried attachment, been considered, gree of bitterness, greater than I had both by her and myself, rather in supposed it possible for any circum- the light of an humble friend than stance to have originated in my mind of a common menial. towards a human being, now swelled Conscious as I was of the false. my bosom against Lord Manning. hood of the charge which his sorham, and almost rose to my lips in rowful and penetrating look seemed
to impute to me, my spirit rose That the letter, the perusal of against the fancied accusation, and which had thus affected my mother, with an air of infinitely greater bauwas of his inditing, I could not en. teur than I had ever before exhibited tertain a doubt. That it contained towards him, or any other domestic, some tale-a tale so dreadful to a fond I ordered him to let Mrs Stafford parent's ear—of a loved son's dis- be informed of my arrival, and of grace, was still less to be question. my wish to be admitted immediately
and as the events of the week to her presence. gone by, which Miss Stafford's beau “Ah, Master Charles !” replied ty had partly succeeded in banishing the old man, mournfully shaking his from my mind, now rushed in irre- hoary head as he retired, while an sistible strength upon my recollec: unbidden tear seemed starting from tion, deeply as I felt the indignity I his eye-“But I shall do your bid. had sustained, a thousand times more ding.' deeply did I resent the sufferings He closed the door slowly, and, inflicted by it upon my beloved pa. as I thought, reluctantly, behind rent. The good old Jennings, who him; a pang of self-disapprobation observed the emotion I so plainly seized upon me as it shut him from exhibited, opened the door of the my view, and I half moved forward breakfast parlour, and respectfully to retract my petulance, and dismiss followed me into it. He seemed af. him with a kindlier greeting. The fected by my distress; nevertheless, thought unavoidably occurred, why through the habitual deference which did I feel offended with him? the faithful fellow preserved towards Whence arose that mild dejection of me, I could not but perceive a his furrowed countenance which I constraint and reserve of manner, had construed into unmerited upwhich told me, quite as plainly as braiding? Whence but from the words could have done, that, in his regard he bore to my mother, and opinion, my own conduct had drawn why should I deny it?—to mydown this visitation upou me, and self?' Still the consciousness that it that to it only had I to look for a was unmerited restrained me, and solution of the cause of my mother's checked the impulse which inclined indisposition. With this man I had me to follow him. been a favourite from a child. From In a few minutes, which were the first hour in which I had been passed by me in the utmost anxiety, introduced at the Hall, Jennings had and appeared to my impatience pro, exhibited, in a thousand ways, the longed to as many hours, he returned preference with which he had dis "Mrs Stafford was asleep.”-Untinguished me above his
able to remain longer by myself in ter-a preference which grew only such an annoying state of suspense, the more obvious as we advanced in I walked hastily towards the stairyears, and which, doubtless, derived case, extending my hand to Jennings its origin from the love and respect as I passed. The old man took it he, in common with all the old reverently, and would have raised it domestics, had ever entertained for to his lips, but, with a cordial presmy mother, whose secession from sure that bespoke my compunction her paternal roof they had seen with for having treated him with unwontfeelings of regret, little alleviated ed harshness, I released it from his by the conduct of her successor, grasp, and directed my steps to the Lady Nelly. Of all the servants of apartment of my mother. Å silence, the family who had witnessed her still and solemn as that of death, abdication, Jennings alone had re- reigned throughout the room; while