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misery that fell upon her heart like the coldness of the grave. Till this suspicion had rushed upon her she never knew how completely her soul was engrossed by an affection for Montley Forrests. Being one day on a boating excursion with some friends, she had accidentally fallen overboard, and Montley, who at the time was rowing past in a small skiff, plunged boldly into the sea and rescued her at the imminent peril of his life. Since that time they had been on terms of intimate acquaintance, and at the commencement the youth was received by Lord St. Roeben in a manner most different from his reception of yesterday. Long did the young girl conjecture what could have been the cause of this change. Was it possible, she thought, that he could have discovered their love?" No, no, she felt certain he had not; and even if the secret were revealed, why should the revelation distress her? True, he was neither knight nor belted earl, but had not his ancestors been such ? His lands were not as broad nor his coffers so full as her father's, but had not the latter sufficient for both ? Wealth and a title were, she knew, so essential in the estimation of her father, that without them he would consider none as an eligible consort for his child, and she shuddered on recollecting that Sir Arthur Linstead was possessed of both. But then (and a gleam of hope broke in upon her) if Lord St. Roeben would but reflect, how could he prefer Sir Arthur Linstead to Montley Forrests ? the one so generous, so noble-spirited, the other so—80– she knew not what to say, and yet felt certain that his heart was evil. But her dear mother; to her would she confess all, and follow her advice in whatever she counselled. Influenced by these thoughts she rose, dried her tears, and approached Lady St. Roeben's apartment; but on entering her lips refused to pronounce the words, and she deferred the confession to another time. Week after week the visits of Sir Arthur Linstead became more frequent, whilst those of Montley Forrests were now almost discontinued. He had perceived with hidden pain and indignation the rude coldness of Lord St. Roeben towards himself, and often had his high spirit been on the point of bursting forth in all the bitterness of scorn and wounded pride, when every angry feeling was repressed for the sake of her whom he loved. He beheld, too, with deep regret the almost daily visits of his more wealthy but less favoured neighbour, and yet for a single moment he did not doubt the constancy of Lady Julia's affection. The lovers frequently met, but always by accident, and Montley saw that the eyes of his beloved had grown sad and dim, and her cheek and lip grown pale. Poor girl ! it was no wonder; she beheld her father not only sanction, but encourage the visits and attentions of a man whom she particularly disliked. She beheld him whom her heart had chosen as its lord, who was the preserver of her now unhappy life, frowned on by that parent, treated with coldness and unconcealed dislike ; and she beheld her mother, her best and dearest friend, broken-hearted and sinking into an untimely grave. Sir Arthur Linstead was naturally shrewd; he had quickly discovered the weak points of Lord St. Roeben's character, that he disliked Montley Forrests, and strongly suspected the affection which existed between him and liis daughter. This dislike and suspicion the wily baronet took every opportunity of increasing, and unhappily his efforts were crowned with success.
It was a bright summer day, and Montley and Lady Julia had accidentally met in a long vista of trees. It was a beautiful place, worthy of shading two beings as fond and pure and true as those who passed beneath its shade. Between each tree was planted one of smaller growth, forming at each side an impenetrable hedge of green leaves and sweet blossoms, and overhead the intermingling of the lofty branches excluded the glaring midday sun. It was some hours since the lovers had met, and still they sauntered up and down the avenue.
“I must away,” at length said the Lady Julia, “already I have been absent too long.
“Nay, sweet Julia,” replied the youth, “remain one moment longer, I have a request to make.”
" Hush !" whispered the maiden, “surely I heard a footstep at the other side of the hedge.”
“Dearest,” he replied, “it is nothing but the light breeze amid the leaves. Listen, there is much, much, which I have not had time to say during this brief interview; will you promise to meet me at sunset to-morrow in the cluster of trees at the end of the park ?"
She murmured “Yes,” and blushingly withdrawing the hand that he held and pressed to his lips, was in a few moments out of sight.
When Lady Julia reached the castle, she found that Sir Arthur Linstead had arrived there a short time before, and was now with her father in the drawing-room. Her heart bounded with pleasure at having escaped his society. The apartment in which the nobleman and baronet were, was in itself magnificent, its furniture the costliest that wealth could procure, and the most beautiful and superb that an elegant taste could select. Lord St. Roeben was listlessly seated on a sofa, yet he endeavoured to throw an expression of placid attention into his face as he listened to the silly chatter of his companion. Almost opposite to him sat the latter, one hand placed in a “favourable light” on a small table beside him, and the other engaged in holding his cambric kerchief.
" But, Sir Arthur," said Lord St. Roeben, taking advantage of a pause which the baronet made, “ you have not told me the news which at first you seemed so anxious to communicate.”
Sir Arthur looked down and endeavoured to appear sorrowful.
“I would, my lord,” he sighed, “ that I could reconcile my conscience to the concealment of this—this news, for I fear it will distress you ; but it must be told. As I came hither to-day, my path lay by a long sequestered avenue of trees with a thick hedge running on each side. On approaching this
place methought I heard from within the sound of Lady Julia St. Roeben's voicea sound which is ever as sweet to my heart as the gushing of waters to a thirsty soul. I drew near to catch more distinctly the soft music, and then I heard another voice. You are aware, my lord, how dear your daughter's safety is to me”—and he laid upon his false heart a hand that blazed with jewels—"so that, anxious to perceive who was there, I noiselessly peered through the hedge; to my utter amazement I found that it was Mr. Montley Forrests, and he spoke to her the words of love !"
The baronet uttered the lover's name and the last sentence in a slow, distinct tone, whilst an almost imperceptible smile rested on his lip. Lord St. Roeben sprang from his seat, the foam gathered on his mouth, and he exclaimed, in a voice that faltered with the deepest rage
“Montley Forrests !--the words of love--of love !"
“Alas !” said Sir Arthur, as if speaking to himself, and sighing profoundly at the same time, “I feared this; I feared that he would keenly feel it."
“Is there any more?” inquired his victim, in the same tone; “ if there be, pray go on.”
“ There is more, my dear sir,” he replied, “ but you are not now in a condition to listen ; I shall postpone further intelligence till to-morrow, and at the same time let me implore you to subdue this racking excitement."
“I am sufficiently calm to hear the worst," said Lord St. Roeben; “ go on, go on.”
“I fear much it will be injurious to your health,” said his tormentor, in a sympathizing tone, “but, as you insist on my proceeding, I shall conclude the tale; indeed there is little more to relate. I listened for some time, and at length I heard Mr. Forrests request most anxiously a meeting to-morrow at sunset at the cluster of trees that skirt the park. You may conjecture, my lord, with what feelings of anguish I heard the Lady Julia promise that meeting! I felt a strong inclination to punish the bold suitor on the spot, but at that moment they separated, and I hastened on here to disburden my heart.”
“ This is too much, too much," muttered Lord St. Roeben between his ground teeth. “ And that boy more than any other - that boy, whose family and mine have always been enemies. But I will take care it shall proceed no further; I will ride off this moment" and be extended his hand to the bell-rope. “I will confront bim in his own hall-I will —"
"Nay, nay, my lord,” interposed Sir Arthur, gently leading the incensed noble to a seat; “nay, I think it would be more judicious to employ somewhat milder and yet more certain measures."
“ Milder!--milder!” he exclaimed.
“Even so, my lord,” replied the other. Now listen for an instant,” he continued. “Remember, I only humbly advise ; you are at liberty to follow whatever plan you please. Believe me, my dear Lord St. Roeben, I deeply and sincerely sympathize in your feelings. Alas ! independently of that, this circumstance has deeply afflicted myself, and therefore I need not assure you that the advice I intend giving is spoken with all good intention, and is the mildest yet the most efficient measure I can think of. Repair to-morrow evening to the place of rendezvous; secrete yourself behind some trees (there can be no danger of your being discovered), and thus overhear and see all that passes ; you can then forbid Mr. Forrests ever again to hold any communion with the Lady Julia, and she, when convinced of the hopelessness of her attachment, will soon, I trust, forget this froward suitor."
Lord St. Roeben, whilst the worthy baronet was speaking, had in some degree recovered his natural calmness, and, after pondering for a moment that gentleman's advice, finally acquiesced.
Long ere the bright sun touched the western verge of the horizon Montley had arrived at the place of meeting, and Lady Julia did not long tarry. At the first visible flutter of her white dress the lover flew to her side, and in a few moments he had handed the fair girl to that very seat on which, seventeen years before, the mysterious prophetess had rested. In all countries, in all languages, in all places, lovers vows are alike, and it is therefore unnecessary to recite those that were now exchanged between Montley and his fair companion. At length there was a gentle pause in the sweet conversation ; a painful thought seemed to flit through Montley's brain, and the calmness of his brow became for an instant perturbed.
“Julia," he suddenly said, gazing into her face, “is not Sir Arthur Linstead a suitor for your hand ?"
At that name every trace of colour vanished from the maiden's cheek, and, sighing deeply, she replied
“ Alas! Montley, he is.”
“I have cause to fear that he does; but why ask such questions? Can you for a moment doubt the constancy my
affection ? " she inquired.
is Doubt it, dearest! oh! never. But,” continued the youth, his tone changing from that of deep tenderness to one of passionate bitterness, but
will be sacrificed to a man who cannot possess your heart, and whose heart, perhaps, you do not possess ; you will be sacrificed to him because his coffers are full and his
lands are broad; whilst I, from whose thoughts you are never absent-I, who have tamely borne contempt and insult for your sake-I, who would shed for you the last drop of my blood ; who love you as man never loved before-1, because untitled and less wealthy, must be broken-hearted.”
He was violently agitated, and paced quickly to and fro on the greensward. Lady Julia rose and laid her hand upon his arm
“Dearest Montley," she said, “forbear those passionate regrets, they only add bitterness to my sorrow, and, God knows, if you could see my heart at this moment—but no matter ; think you, that when once sincere love hath entered a woman's heart, it may lightly thence depart? Oh ! no; oh! no. Whilst I live this poor heart shall be yours; and, whilst it is, this hand shall never be another's."
Montley pressed her to his bosom, and in all the pure, deep tenderness of woman's first and truest love, she laid her head upon his shoulder and burst into tears.
“Now, dearest Julia, who is it that yields to painful feelings?” he said. Listen, my best beloved ; were you houseless, friendless, penniless in the world, you would be as dear-ay, if possible, dearer to me than at this moment ; life without you would be to me a blank; such is my affection for you, that it has elevated and purified my soul. Think, then, what I should feel were I to see you the bride of another. Oh, Julia ! you know not what a weight your promise has lifted from my heart.”
“ Villain ! ” cried a voice, and Lord St. Roeben, springing from his concealment, stood before the astonished lovers. Anger had whitened his face to the paleness of death, his eyes seemed blazing in their sockets, and every muscle in his countenance was discernible from the violence of his passion.
Julia, faint and trembling, clung to her lover's arm ; but Montley, though tenderly supporting the drooping girl, stood proud and undaunted before the incensed noble.
“ Villain-coward-traitor !” cried the latter. The blood flew to Forrests' noble brow.
“ Had any other man,” he said, in a deep, distinct voice ; “had any other man spoken those words, save the father of Lady Julia St. Roeben, they would have been the last that ever he would utter; as it is, my lord, you are safe for her sake."
“ Indeed,” exclaimed the other, ironically, “many thanks, fair sir, for your most Christian moderation.”
By this time Lady Julia had recovered her calmness, and with clasped hands and streaming eyes threw herself at her parent's feet.
“Oh! my father,” she exclaimed, “ do not speak thus ; do not speak thus.' Cast the film from your eyes, and treat Montley Forrests in the manner in which he deserves to be treated; let your anger fall on me; yet why should you feel—"