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thy heart never be blighted like mine ; may thy children spring up around thee in virtue and beauty; may they cherish and comfort thy declining years! Farewell !” So saying she left the house, and in a moment more Mrs. Grey, from the window, beheld her standing at a little distance, with her hands clasped and her eyes fixed intently on the full bright moon. In a short time, however, she turned abruptly away, and her form was lost to the widow's eyes in the shadow of a neighbouring wall.
Seventeen years had passed away since those events occurred which are narrated in the foregoing chapter. During that space of time the heiress of Lord St. Roeben had sprung up into as exquisitely beautiful a being as ever blessed a home with the sunlight of its presence. Her figure was of medium height, gracefully and delicately formed, with every limb as finely rounded as in the sculptor's fairest work. Her soft luxuriant hair was black as jet, and the forehead which it shaded as white and smooth as the purest marble ; the brows were black and delicately arched, the silken-fringed eyes were faultlessly formed and set, large, dark, and dove-like, yet reflecting every emotion of the possessor's heart; the complexion was singularly fair and transparent, kindling on the velvet cheek into a vivid but varying blush, How beautiful were the features ! the nose how finely formed, the upper lip how exquisitely curved! the under how rich and rounded! the chin “ cloven” (as Shakspeare says) with a dimple : in short, the head and face were of that peculiar Grecian cast so rarely seen but so much and so generally admired. On Lord St. Roeben the hand of time had lightly passed; it had strewn a few grey hairs upon his head and stamped some wrinkles on his stern brow, but in all other respects it had left him unchanged; touched neither by the tender affection of his wife (for with all the beautiful constancy of woman she still dearly loved him) nor by the duteous attentions of his daughter, he continued the same cold, harsh, distant being, This conduct had broken the heart of Lady St. Roeben, and under the bitter knowledge of causelessly losing the affections of her husband, her health had of late completely sunk. Often did the Lady Julia, between whom and her mother there existed the deepest attachment, weep in silence and solitude at the painful prospect of that parent's death. Felton—the faithful Felton was almost constantly attendant on her youthful mistress ; she had never breathed a word of the gipsy's dark prediction, but, sleeping or waking, the remembrance of it haunted her thoughts, and she had watched, and did still watch, with the most unflinching care over its object, hoping by this means to avert the awful doom which she yet feared would inevitably overwhelm her. Matters were in this state, when about the close of a lovely autumn evening Lady Julia strolled through her beautiful garden accompanied by a female friend. Mrs. Felton was there also, but was occupied amongst the flowers. For some time the young girls sauntered about, admiring the varied beauties of the parterre, or gazing on the fantastic streaks which still burned in the western sky.
“Come, Charlotte, let us sit down for awhile,” said Lady Julia, throwing herself on a rustic seat. “Oh, how I wish,” she exclaimed, after a pause, “ that my father would not urge me to frequent those balls; I do so dislike their glare and heartless gaiety, and I feel especial repugnance to go there whilst my dear mother is so ill.”
“But Lady St. Roeben makes no objection to your going," replied her companion.
“ Ah! I know that,” replied the fair heiress, sighing; “but yet—"
“Now out upon you for a silly prattler," interrupted Lady Charlotte, playfully, “ to raise difficulties thus, and in my presence too, whose mother is to be your chaperon! Let me hear no more of them. Come, this pretty cheek looks pale this evening : shall I kindle a blush on it ? Montley Forrests will be at the ball tonight. There now, did I not know that that name would raise a blush ?"
“Pshaw !” exclaimed Lady Julia, as she stooped to pluck a violet.
“Dear Julia,” said her friend, in a more serious tone, “dear Julia, you need not endeavour to conceal your feelings, this feeling at least, from me, for I know that you love Montley Forrests; nay, do not start nor look so terrified; and I am certain that in return he loves you most fondly and truly. What, are you weeping at such intelligence ?"
Lady Julia laid her head on the shoulder of her friend, and indulged in a passionate burst of tears.
“What is the meaning of this ?” inquired the lady, throwing her arms affectionately round the sobbing girl's neck. “What is the meaning of this? I fear that you are unhappy, Julia."
“Alas! I am indeed,” she replied; “I know that I may confide in you, my early friend and companion. You have rightly conjectured; I do love Montley Forrests, and I see-I feel that he loves me; but my father-oh! dearest Charlotte, he will never consent to our upion; he seems to dislike Montley. Ah! I fear he has in view some wealthier suitor for my hand.”
“ Tush !” said Lady Charlotte, “ Lord St. Roeben will allow your hand to accompany your heart;” but a stranger might have
known by the tone of her voice that she scarcely felt what she said.
“Ah! you do not know my father,” replied her friend.
“ Well, were I you,” said 'Lady Charlotte, “I would not shed a tear about the matter until my suspicions were more strongly confirmed; I assure you that I hope for the best, and please to recollect that Charlotte Hinton is to be your bridesmaid. Come now, the dews are falling and I want to see our dresses by candlelight."
A few hours more and Lady Julia St. Roeben stood within the ball-room, the brightest being who graced its splendour, yet the most unconscious of that excelling loveliness. There was a sweet gentle smile upon her lip, yet her cheek was somewhat paler than usual, and there was an expression of tender pensiveness in her dark eyes; but how that cheek flushed, how those eyes kindled, how her heart throbbed and her frame thrilled when she perceived Montley Forrests approaching her! Ah! he loves her; yes, you may know it at once by his manner, by his very tone, by his tender and delicate attention. And is he not worthy of the fair girl ? What a fine form, what a noble bearing, what a winning expression of countenance, what a splendid expanse of brow! There, he has solicited her hand for the next dance, and with an artless blush it is yielded.
Lady Julia was introduced during the course of the evening to a young baronet whose estate lay near that of her father. Sir Arthur Linstead had but lately, and for the first time, honoured with his presence the magnificent mansion of Linstead Park; however, brief as was the time since his arrival, he had once or twice seen the heiress of Castle Roeben, and her beauty or her riches seemed to have made some impression on his hard and selfish heart. He had thought how well such a lovely bride would grace his ancestral abode, and what an increase would be made to his wealth and enjoyments were her dowry transferred to his possession. Actuated by those feelings, he endeavoured during the evening to render himself as agreeable as possible to her who was to be honoured with his hand. The impression which he made on her was, however, by no means favourable ; indeed, in manners or appearance Sir Arthur Linstead was little calculated to win a lady's heart. Somewhat above the middle height, his form was lank and badly proportioned, his brow low and narrow, his eyes (they never looked straight in any one's face) grey, keen, and restless, with an undefinable expression lurking within them which it was most unpleasant to contemplate; his nose was long, slender, and very pointed, his lips thin and firmly compressed, his chin short and sharp, and his whole face of a cadaverous and unearthly hue. The only beauty which the young baronet possessed, if indeed such may be called beauty in a man, was small, white,
August, 1845.--VOL. XLIII. NO. CLXXII.
delicate hands; of those he was inordinately vain, and the fingers were always emblazoned in rings of immense value. Sir Arthur's heart was naturally bad, and no effort had ever been employed to root out the tares or sow good seeds therein, as he was the only child of parents who doated upon him with a deep but dangerous love. He was always allowed unbounded licence, his every wish was unhesitatingly gratified, and thus the evil propensities of his nature were fostered, and whatever amiable traits appeared in his youthful character were eventually destroyed. His parents were now both dead, but, alas ! they had lived long enough to perceive the evil effects of their indulgence. He had grown up a vain, selfish, unfeeling man, proud and tyrannical, yet glossing over these defects with a simpering face and a manner that would fain have been sweet and persuasive. He had squandered much of his once princely fortune, but as that was not known in shire he represented himself as a man of immense wealth. There was something about him which at their very first meeting disgusted the Lady Julia St. Roeben. She could not endure the expression of eye, or the cold constant simper that was perched upon his lip, and she felt doubly delighted when Montley Forrests again solicited her hand for the dance. When it was concluded he conducted her to a seat a little removed from the rest, and for some time they laughingly conversed together. Gradually the voice of Montley assumed a deeper and lower tone, and the cheek of Lady Julia a more vivid colour. The lover had told his love and the maiden had smiled upon it. Ah! there was at that moment an evil eye fixed upon the hapless lovers. From the commencement Sir Arthur Linstead had watched them both; nay, in passing the unconscious pair his ear had caught a few words, the import of which confirmed his suspicions, and he vowed in his malignant heart that Lady Julia should be his and his alone.
CHAPTER IV. The next day Castle Roeben was favoured by a visit from the lord of Linstead Park. Fain would Lady Julia have declined appearing, but her father peremptorily commanded her immediate presence, and, leaving the side of her mother, she went to receive one whom her heart already instinctively loathed. The young baronet was received with much cordiality by Lord St. Roeben, who appeared desirous of cultivating his friendship, and whose advances were apparently met with mutual cordiality by his guest. To Lady Julia the latter was all attention, but she preserved towards him a chilling coldness of mien and manner that would have crushed the hopes of any man whose character was less
selfish and determined than Sir Arthur's. On rising to depart, after a protracted visit, Lord St. Roeben invited him to dine at the castle the next day; the invitation was smilingly accepted, and, bowing profoundly to the fair daughter of his host, the baronet left the room. Lord St. Roeben stood at the window looking after the splendid carriage as it disappeared amid the trees, and Lady Julia occupied herself with arranging some flowers in a vase. Her father's brow was dark and frowning, and she feared the thunder-cloud which rested on it would every moment burst; but he remained silent.
The sound of Sir Arthur's equipage had scarcely died away in the distance, when she caught the tramp of a horse's foot, and her father exclaimed with an impatient gesture
“ This is that young Forrests; I should wish to know what he wants here."
The poor girl's heart died within her, and she felt the blood retreat from her cheek, but she said nothing, and the next moment her lover was announced. Far different was Montley's reception from that of Sir Arthur Linstead. Lord St. Roeben met him with a cold supercilious air, and his daughter with a downcast eye and mantling blush; but Forrests did not heed the father's hauteur, his thoughts were too much engrossed by the beautiful lady of his love. She was deeply pained by her father's conduct, and her heart sank as she caught his stern eye fixed upon her with a frown of displeasure whenever she attempted by any courtesy or attention to atone for the strangeness of his manner. When Montley had left them Lady Julia retired to her chamber, and Lord St. Roeben, thus left alone, folded his arms and paced slowly up and down the apartment.
“Ay,” he muttered. “Ay, and is it so ? She loves this gentle beggar, and he has dared to raise his eyes to my daughter! But I will crush their hopes, nip them in the very bud; she shall be Sir Arthur's bride; I have long thus fixed it in my heart. It was for this that I sent her to the ball last night, and by my faith she seems to have achieved the conquest which I so much desired. But to be thwarted by a beggarly boy! how the thought chafes me! Better ere he rescued her that she had perished in the wild waves than live to be his. What! the last St. Roeben the bride of a nameless house! I swear it shall not be so."
When Lady Julia reached her apartment she flung herself upon the bed and gave vent to a burst of tears : those tears were to her most grateful, for had not the pent-up agony of her heart thus found relief, she must have fainted. Something there was in the manner of her father which indicated, she fancied, that he would not feel displeasure should Sir Arthur become a suitor for her hand ; and this reflection, combined with the cold reception he had given Montley Forrests, brought with it an overpowering sense of