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Give sorrow words; the grief that will not speak
WOK 19763 90
It may be supposed that what had weighed so heavily upon the mind of Constance was not withheld from her aunt, or her friend Lady Clanellan. One part, indeed, of the constitution of our nature is, for the most amiable purposes, so ordered, that the communication whether of grief or joy to a person we love, assuages the one and brightens the other.
Constance had no grief, but she had troubles; and while all the world supposed she was the queen of pleasure as of fashion, and adored her as such with boundless devotion, she was internally, to her own astonishment, fatigued in spirit and unsatisfied in mind.
“What a gay life is yours !" said a young friend to her one day, while every one was admiring her;" what a light heart!” The observation immediately banished the smile that had prompted it; for, as she afterward told Lady Clanellan, she had smiled at nothing, and her heart at that very moment was as heavy as lead.
“You are a most extraordinary girl," said Lady Clanellan; “ and could the world see into that little mind of yours, you would be set down either as having lost your senses, or as never having had any to lose."
“ The world would be but right,” observed Constance.
“A fit of sentiment,” continued Lady Clanellan,“ comes over you, because you are afraid of papa, and in consequence you refuse to come to my ball, which was given almost on purpose for you. There were I don't know how many peers of England, counts of France, and princes of the holy Roman empire, all watching the door for your arrival, and all going away angry with me for their disappointment. Do you think I can forgive this ?”
“ My dear marchioness, if you knew"
“If I knew what? I am sure I know enough. There is a duke on his knees, or who would be so to you every day of his life if you would let him; yet you turn away with almost disdain. There is a magnificent earl, who says you are as cold as a lump of ice, and would be fit only for a milkmaid, even if you were warmer. There is à –"
“My dear, kind friend," interrupted Constance, “ spare me, I beseech you! I am not in spirits for raillery."
“ And what are you in spirits for,” replied the marchioness, changing her tone, and kissing her cheek; " is there any thing in this little heart of yours which is pent up and wants relief? If there is, why let it show itself, and we will see what can be done to give it ease. Believe me, dear Constance, to see you grave makes me melancholy; for if you were really unhappy, I could never be at ease. But confidence, where you can so repose it, will relieve you much,'
“ I am sure it will," answered Constance, leaning her head on her friend's shoulder; “ but I have really nothing to confide, except what will perhaps surprise you as much as it does myself—that I was happier in Languedoc than I have ever been since we left it."
“What!" replied Lady Clanellan, “in those formát old gardens of Esparbez; with nobody to speak to but a' stiff president or two of the parliament of Toulouse, or an old general des armées du roi ?"
"I had you and Lord Clanellan,” said Constance,
“ And a pretty couple we were'!" returned the marchioness: "I an invalid, and he little better than a farmer who knew how to read; which was more than we could say of all our neighbours.”
* With all this I was happy," said Constance, “ And not now ?"
“ Alas! no; and, what is worse, I cannot tell wħy. I seem to have a fever on my spirits.”
“ Yet if flattery could sooth—"
“ Alas! it inakes me sick. I am insulted with compliments all day long. I am deified in prose and verse, by persons who know nothing of me, and whose praise would be of no value if they did. I am dragged, or drag
myself from one show to another, where the eye is excited by dazzling brilliancy, but without one satisfying thought to accompany it. In short, there is no mind any where in those about me: all is masquerade : and I hate the name of masquerade since that unfortunate one at Bellamont House."
Lady Clanellan, who knew and respected the deep impression which the adventure there had made upon Constance, and had done all she could to heal a spirit hurt to the quick by the liberties which had been taken with her, now desisted from her rallying tone, and in the gentlest manner asked her if she had any thing on her mind.
“ Not positively,” said Constance; but I am too little pleased with my life to be at ease. As to what I do in public, I feel myself a mere puppet of fashion, and, what is worse, sought after as a mere instrument of party politics. Yet I feel only humbled by being thought a party woman-no very amiable character in itself; and one who, before she can shine, must learn to be at least an actress, if not to forget her sex.
6 That will my Constance never do,” said Lady Clanellan kindly; "but you have your own private moments, your own private thoughts and resources, and surely never was any young person so entirely her own mistress.”
“ Nothing so seemingly true, so really false,” replied Constance. “ The silly flattery I meet with would make me think myself a queen-the constraints of my life show me I am a slave. How different from this was even that old château of Esparbez, which you pretend to ridicule, but which yet you liked."
“Strange," said Lady Clanellan, laughing, “ that so gay an heiress should even remember such a piece of monotony !"
“I have told you I am not gay,” replied Constance, gravely; " and very sure I am, to be an heiress is not in itself to be happy. Then, as to monotony, I begin to doubt, however you may laugh at me, whether it is not capable of yielding more real contentment than the most splendid variety
“ You, who have so much experience,” said the marchioness, still smiling at her, “must be right.”
“ And have I not experience," returned Constance. “ Was I not happy at Esparbez, and-am I happy here? As to the monotony of Esparbez, while it was giving you health, what did I require ? But it also gave me, what is so good for every one, but particularly a wild young girl such as I then was, the habit
which you, dear marchioness, so kindly fostered, of making home happy, by turning the most trivial things into lessons of instruction. While this prevailed, how did the hours fly!”
"Dear Constance,” said the marchioness, changing to seriousness, “I remember full well how my lord and I admired you, for taking so rationally to that solitude, and dispelling all its gloom by the sunshine of your own mind. Yet you were then as unknown to the world, and as ignorant of it, as your own doves of which you were so fond. How does it happen that things are so changed ?"
“ It was this very ignorance, I believe," replied Con. stance, “that made me happy. The doves you mention had not a wish beyond their cage, nor I beyond mine. The little studies in which you and Lord Clanellan engaged me improved me, or, what is the same thing, made me hope I was improving. This was every thing: for though there was no variety but what we made for ourselves, every little diversion which we did make became an episode of pleasure. Such was the mere raising of a primrose, or even a salad in my own garden; but particularly a ride in the evening in that sweet cļimate, while Lord Clanellan drove you in his calash : and then to return to a home where every thing was void of care, and the birds sung me to sleep"
" Fi donc," interrupted the marchioness ; “ what would be said of you at the court ball to-night, if this were overheard ?!!
“Fi donc, or not,” replied Constance, “I can safely say, that in spite of all I am envied for, I have neither been so happy, nor, I am afraid, so innocent, since the days we have been calling to mind."
Strange to say, the eyes of Constance, and a deep sigh which she breathed, showed how much she was moved by these unfashionable recollections.
“Nay, now !” exclaimed Lady Clanellan; “I shall begin to scold, or send for Lord Cleveland to quiz your pretty simplicity. For Heaven's sake, dear Constance, wherein have you departed from the innocence I have always loved in you, as your brightest jewel ?"
.“ In the total loss of my time," replied Constance; "in appearing always as if upon a scene; in letting hour after hour go by without ane self-approving action, or