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the tear was seen, the fault forgotten, and Helen was-again the bright spot whence an" his hopes of happiness were derived.
She was recovering from a sprained ancle, and had thoughtlessly accepted Sir George Crowder's oner to take a drive in his curricle the first morning she,went out: the following day was fixed. Dillon entered the room in high spirits: 'My dearest Helen,' he said,' you must Do longer be an invalid^ allow me to drive you to Richmond. The grounds are beautiful around the domicile I think of purchasing, and seem arranged with more than common taste: I only wish your decision; and now the time approaches when I shall claim .your promise to become my own, I know few spots that can surpass this in rural'loveliness.
Helen's dark star was in the ascendant, and shedding its baleful influence over her destiny: she had not had a sweet lover's quarrel for a week—she had been free from contradiction for some time, and caprice was taking its turn to reign.
'Really, Henry,' she replied, 'I should like to see this wonderfully pretty Elysium, as you think it, but I have made an engagement for tomorrow; so you may say soft things to me to-day, and I will go to Richmond some other day. Positively, it is only three weeks to our marriage, so we ought to faire Paimable to others till then, as we shall only think of ourselves, 1 suppose, afterwards,' added she, blushing.
'Thank you, thank you, my own Helen, for that dear conclusion; but, dearest, where are you going to-morrow? Knowing you did not receive visitors, and had not been out, I had, with a certainty that you would grant my request, made the appointment. Cannot you put off your engagement to another day?'
'Why—indeed—no—I think not—4—I Oh! do not teaze me. I
Henry could not understand her confusion. * Helen,' he said,' what is the matter? where are you going? what to do to-morrow?'
'You look, Henry, as astonished and horror-struck as the sudden appearance of the stocking-manufactory struck the mind of Rousseau in the lonely Valley of the Alps, when he had just congratulated himself on finding a spot where man had never been. But to convince you I am neither going to Mr. St. John Long, nor over one of the bridges, I have promised to accompany Sir George Crowder in his curricle to Oatlands.'
'By heavens, Helen,you shall not!' cried Henry, as detenninately as indignantly.
* Shall not!' repeated Helen; 'Shall not!' Again she reiterated. 'I may be wooed, and I may be won; but I will not, never will, be compelled: so I must omit the monosyllable Not, and say, I Shall Oo; ' and then added, haughtily, ' You see I am not very able to leave the room — I would be alone;' .and she took .up a volume lying by her, repeating, in a suppressed tone, ' Shall not!"'
* Helen,' said Henry, ' hear me. I have no wish to command nor to control; but I implore you, by the love that has been my jpy so long, do not trifle with me, nor drive me to madness. Prove your acknowledged affection for me, and relinquish this improper engagement. Sir George Crowder's horses are not very safe; but that is not my only objection; I do not choose (excuse my candor)—I do not wish the woman who is to be my wife, to be paraded about by every frivolous stripling who has effrontery enough to ask, or vanity to expect^ acquiescence with his presumptuous proposals.'
Harsher words would too probably have ensued, as Helen commenced defending her favored gay friend from Henry's certainly severe remarks, but Major Montague entering the room, the matter was referred to him. He decided in favor of Henry's wishes; and, with astonishing complacency, Helen said, ' Well, as you wish it, papa, I will yield this point to Henry; but he must not imagine that in Helen Montague he will find a woman who has no will but her husband's.
'Dearest Helen,' interrupted Henry, accepting her acquiescence as a favor to himself, ' I'
He was interrupted by the Major leaving the room, and saying, * Let me entreat you, my children, not to destroy happiness in useless contentions. It is a woman's duty to yield to a husband's wishes; and I know my Helen's mind, and the heart I have formed, too well to believe she will childishly sacrifice her husband's consequence to the silly fear of being suspected of being ruled and obedient to him; and it is equally inconsistent with a generous, well-regulated mind, to use the power intended for comfort, as a torture to the man she has accepted as her future husband.'
As the Major closed the, door, Henry took Helen's hand, saying— 'Well, dearest, you will act like yourself; promise me not to go with Sir George.'
'Oh! yes, I Must promise; but do leave me now—I am tired,' and she coldly withdrew her hand.
Dillon sighed deeply, and left the room.
At dinner the subject was not renewed. In the course of the evening, Helen observing Henry was thoughtful, spiritless, and silent, with her usual sweetness wished to obliterate the painful feelings her pride and levity too frequently excited, said—'Heigho! my love shines not tonight; he is as cold and cloudy as the moon on a stormy night.' This was said with an irresistible smile, as she laid her hand on his, and a shade of melancholy passed over her countenance so few could resist, that certainly it was not in the power of a man like Henry Dillon, in love with the beautiful being who was thus deprecating his displeasure.
They parted that night with the conviction that each was necessary to the happiness of the other.
At the appointed hour on the following day, Sir George was announced. Helen was busy with her flowers, yet more busy thinking how she should excuse herself from accompanying him. She rose with painful confusion, and said, in a hurried voice—' I so much regret, Sir George, I am prevented accompanying you to Oatlands; papa insists I shall go with Captain Dillon to Richmond.'
'Rather say, my too lovely friend, that awful piece of sentimentality has forced you into compliance.' It was rare that the gay and really amiable Sir George ever found his temper discomposed; but he had, unavowed even to himself, thrown the chance of his success with Helen on this day's occurrences. He meant to plead with all the warmth of his ardent nature; he meant to astonish her with his skill in horsemanship, in fact, he meant, be resolved to secure his point, and crush the high-raised hopes of his accepted rival.
He would not allow the thought of the dishonorable part he was in fact pursuing to interfere with his wishes. He had too much levity to reflect, and too much love to desist: thus he cast aside all troublesome, obtrusive, or inconvenient objections.
He had ceased speaking rather abruptly, and Helen remained silent, but looked as she felt, haughtily displeased. He knew her weak point, and he pursued the advantage he saw he had already gained, by adding —' Forgive, loveliest Miss Montague, the impropriety, the harshness of my expression; believe, however it may blight my proud hopes, I must admire the amiable softness that yields to a lover what a husband only should dare to command;' and a stnile of contempt passed over his lips.
* You little know my nature, Sir George,' indignantly replied Helen. 'I should neither yield to the request of a lover, nor the command of a husband, if not consonant with my own wishes and ideas of right.'
'Excuses, ma belle amie,' said the irritated baronet; 'it is your own inconsistency then, not your deference for Captain Dillon, that I must reproach for your broken engagement; but you must pardon me if I feel convinced that this knight of the rueful countenance was authorised to say he was secure, and that you should not accompany me to-day, as he had marked out some other plan-.'
'Secure! Secure of me! ' exclaimed the now agitated girl, while her countenance expressed all the proud disdain she felt: 'no man shall daro make so humiliating, so false a boast.'
'My sweet friend,' interrupted Sir George, 'I have unintentionally repeated an expression that —'
'Say no more, Sir George; my mind is fixed in its purpose.'
At this unpropitious moment, this moment hig with Helen's fate, Sir George's beautiful Arahians were driven to the door. 'Ah, my fellowsufferers,' said he, 'your elevated spirits, like your master's, are doomed to be humbled. We may return and brood over disappointed anticipations.'
'No, no, Sir George,' said Helen, ' I will accompany you—I shall be ready in an instant,' and she left the room. Sir George, in the exuberance of his feelings at his unexpected success, and satisfied that he should sufficiently mortify his correct and noble-minded rival, little heeded the whispers of conscience which reproached him with so misrepresenting the case to Miss Montague, lie had met Captain Dillon the day previously, after Henry's interview with Helen, and cried, *Ah! Captain Dillon, comment Do la santi, I am practising my favorites to go a gentle pace, that Miss Montague may not be alarmed. She has promised me the honor of taking a drive with me to-morrow.'
Captain Dillon's open countenance ill concealed the contempt he felt for his boasting tormentor, and could not resist the desire be felt to mortify his arrogance. He replied coolly, 'I think you may be mistaken, Sir; Miss Montague accompanies Me to-morrow.'
'Nous verrons,' tauntingly answering Sir George, and be muttered, * quand on n'a pas ce que l'on aime, il faut aimer ce que I'on a, and this may be proved;' then in a louder voice, he added, 'aurevoir,' and drove off, determined to obtain his wish, let it be at what cost it might; and he was but too successful, as we have seen.
'Consummate puppy,'said Henry to himself; I cannot imagine how the high-minded Helen can pass even an hour with this compound of French perfumery and conceit.' Thus the irritated and annoyed Henry could only dissipate his fears and uneasiness by the remembrance of Helen's promise; and so met her, as already described, at dinner.
Unfortunately for the self devoted Helen, Major Montague was absent on military duty, and her mother, who was slightly indisposed, only saw her when equipped for her drive; and she said, 'I will bring you, dear mamma, the beautiful flowers 1 ordered yesterday.' She gave no time for any remark; but hurried down stairs, forgetful or indifferent to the pain her ancle caused her. She returned to the drawing-room, and then accompanied Sir George to the carriage.
At that moment Captain Dillon drove to the door. His countenance became pale as marble, he cast a look of defiance on the exulting Sir George, and, springing forward, seized, rather than took Helen by the hand, saying, ' You surely will not break your promise to me, to your father?'
'To my father, Captain Dillon, I am certainly accountable for my actions; and when I give you a right to demand a promise, then I may tolerate your remonstrance: until then, excuse me questioning the propriety of your present conduct. I am engaged with Sir George Crowder.'
'Sir George,' turning to him, she added, with a forced smile, ' I am ready;' ;gid allowed him to hand her with an air of triumph, to his curricle.
Helen felt she trembled at the look Henry cast upon her. It was of love, of pity, of despair: but it was one that spoke the purpose of his soul as fixed. He bowed, and the exulting Sir George dashed off with the beautiful girl, who, no longer supported by pride and oflended feelings, leant back in the carriage and sunk into painful silence. It was in vain Sir George exerted all his wit and flattery, all his exquisite skill in the management of his spirited horses; all was unheeded. She spoke little; yet thought was becoming agony. Helen felt she had done wrong: she had disobeyed, deceived her father; she had insulted the man she loved, and wounded every feeling of his generous and confiding heart. The remembrance of his look chilled the blood in her veins; her heart seemed swelling, so as to render even the slight pressure of ter dress painful. Still she pursued her drive, and with affected vivacity endeavored to rally her spirits so as tp conceal her .sufferjn^g from Ji*r companion.
Major Montague, as he was returning home, met Henry driving furiously, lie would have passed; but the Major, seeing his countenance so haggard, so wild, cried out, 'Dillon! Henry! what is the matter? apeak!'
He then drew in his horses, who, little accustomed to be driven so violently, were with difficulty restrained.
'Excuse me now, Mujor,' said Henry; 'I will see you in the morning.'
'Stop, stop!' cried the Major: 'my child, my Helen, is she well— has any accident befallen her? Speak! I cannot endure this torturing suspense.'
'She is well and happy,' hitterly replied Henry; and I am her
'Explain, as you value my friendship.'
'Not now, not now, dear Sir; I cannot, dare not trust myself to speak:' and he drove hastily away.
On entering his house, the Major inquired for his daughter, and was informed she nad not returned from her drive with Sir George. Major Montague's brow assumed a frown rarely seen on his benignant countenance, desired to see her the instant she returned, and entered his library, sorely lamenting the inconsistency of his darling; but his sorrow was deeply tinctured with indignation, that such a man as Dillon should be so trilled with. He resolved to strongly express his resentment and anger at Helen's conduct; but, as she entered the room, her usual brilliant expression was fled and changed to one so full of sadness, and she looked so meekly melancholy, that the father's love quickly repressed the meditated reproof, and he said, in tender accents, ' My darling child, what ails you?'
'I am only tired, dear papa. I will lie down for half-an-hour. and shall be quite myself again at dinner.'
All Major Montague's angry feelings were revived on seeing Helen in extravagant spirits when they met at table, and he resolved she should mark and feel his displeasure. He remained silent and thoughtful, and took no further notice of her lively manner, than by looking sternly at her.
Mrs. Montague was also evidently depressed. She had heard the circumstance from her husband. Helen alone seemed herself; she had a part to act, and had wound up her feelings to the determination to act it consistently.
On the servants leaving the room, Helen, as if fearing a pause, said, 'Papa, on what are you thinking?' He replied, in the words of Lord Falkland's ancestor, Cary, when Queen Elizabeth asked kindly on what he was thinking. He answered coldly, 'On nothing, so please your highness.'
'Nothing,' repeated the Queen; 'pray, gentle coz., what does a man think of when he thinks of nothing?
* Please you, royal madam,' rejoined he, with hitter and pointed meaning, ' he thinks on a women's promise.'
So answered Major Montague to his daughter: 'I am thinking on nothing—on your promise; but allow me to inform you, Miss Montague, I will not permit my friend to be insulted with impunity, nor do 1 expect my wishes, (for, Helen, you have never received commands.) to be slighted. You have broken your faith with your father, nod have deeply injured a mon; whose onlv weakness consists iu bein" nevoteu to a heartless coquette; and believe me, child, that the utmost so unamiable a character can boast is the despicable triumph of having hardened some hearts and broken others. For what and for whom do you sacrifice the bright prospect you have? For an idle gratification, and for a gay, thoughtless young slave to fashion.' .
Major Montague's emotion was visible in his quivering lip, but Helen, so unaccustomed to receive aught but affection and praise, was not yet sufficiently humble to say more than—' Indeed, papa, I meant to do, and not to do, as I promised; but positively, when that accomplished whip, with his dear beautiful horses, arrived, my good intentions yielded to their prancing attractions; and, (she added, coloring violently,) Henry's presumption and hauteur are insufferable, and I Will let him know that no man shall think himself secure of me; but, dearest Padre, I am weary of confession, and 'but seeing the angry frown deepen upon her father's face, and her mother's eye filled with tears, she hastily continued, ' but do smile again upon your own Helen, ami I will behave better in future, and be obedient, and say pretty things to this Hottentot lover, if he will but be more humble,' and with her own peculiar smile she expected to he forgiven; but she felt she did not entirely succeed in dispelling the displeasure from her father's brow, or the tear from her mother's eye, and she left the room, displeased with herself, vexed with her parents, and more irritated than ever with Henry, as to him she attributed all her trouble.