Page images

him to hope. After a brief silence Arthur resumed :“ Since the first time I saw you I have been attracted toward you : I have watched closely your conduct, your habits, your sentiments, your principles. You will not think me bold when I say you have improved essentially in all these since you came here, especially during the last year. I am sure you will make such a wise as I can repose my heart upon ; such an one, as I can truly cherish, because I can truly honour her.”

“ I am poor,” said Jane ; “ I have nothing—not even any relatives, which the most wretched persons have.”

“ What do you say, Jane !"-exclaimed Arthur.-“ Have you not a father, and a brother?”

“ Yes, I believe I have," answered she; “ but all the time I have been here, I have heard nothing of my father, and my brother I never saw. My mother took him to England with her, when he was very young, and there left him at school, under the care of her father's friends. She returned to Canada, where she died, whilst I was an infant; her remains lie at Quebec ; I have seen her

grave, and mourned over it." " And where is your father?” asked Arthur.

66 I will see him, and ask his consent to our union. I love a filial spirit: I would not marry you, Jane, until I had paid him the honour, which in such a case is due to him."

“I know your principles, sir,” said Jane,“ and 1 cannot tell you how much I respect them ;—but oh! my father is"

She broke off, and was much agitated. Arthur was much affected, and, forgetting self, he exclaimed, catching her hand to his heart, “ Dear, dear Jane, end this

[ocr errors]

mystery. Put confidence in me.

Tell me what your father is. Tell me why you are always so disturbed when he is named ; and if to serve you, I am even required to give up my fondest hopes, I will pledge myself to do it.”

“ I do need a friend,” said Jane, weeping; "and if this promise of yours is sincere, and sacred—”

“ Both sincere and sacred, rely upon it, Jane,” cried Arthur; “and my word was never yet broken to man or woman.”

“ Remember,” said Jane, after a painful hesitation, “ to what you pledge yourself.—You will serve me in regard to my father, though even to the loss of—your hopes ?”

“ I will,” he cried firmly; “ not but I think you will require less for pity's sake.”

“ Perhaps I may—perhaps I may not,” said Jane : “ however, Arthur, I will tell you all, if you will keep

my secret.”

“ I promise you this, too!” cried Arthur.

“ I will not ask you, when you have heard my story, to pity the poor Canadian Girl," she said, “ nor to refrain from visiting upon her head, her father's sins. I know

you will pity me. I know you will not blame me.” “ Blame you, Jane !” ejaculated Arthur.

“ Hush, until I have told my story,” said Jane, then sitting down on the side of the little bridge by the mill, she began thus :

My mother was born in England, she was the daughter of a country clergyman, and in opposition to her father's entreaties and arguments, as I have heard, married the mate of a North American vessel, and came out with him to the Canadas, where his parents

[ocr errors]

and friends lived. After a few years she became very unhappy, and determined to return to England to her father's house.

“ As I before told you, she fulfilled this design, taking my brother with her, but, when she arrived at the parsonage where her early years had been spent, what was her disappointment and grief to find a stranger filling her father's place; and what was her astonishment to learn, that having had an annuity of four hundred pounds a year bequeathed to him, he had sold his houses and furniture, and was gone out with the money to the very country from which she had just returned, in order to settle there permanently. My poor mother then sought out the residence of her only sister, who was much her senior in years, and who had been married early in life to a worthy gentleman of small fortune, with her father's consent, but my aunt was dead ; and this fresh sorrow almost overwhelmed my mother.

“ Her sister's husband was also dead, and some distant relations only were left to her. These persons, being in excellent circumstances, treated her kindly, and undertook to educate and provide for my brother if she would leave him; it cost her much suffering, but she acquiesced, and being almost penniless was compelled to accept from them the means by which to pay for her own voyage back to Canada, whither she returned, broken in spirits, with decaying health, and with no more money than would just maintain her a month.”

Jane stopped, and her eyes flowed with tears for her mother's sorrows; while Arthur listened with profound attention, and with the kindest pity. She proceeded :

“ I cannot remember my mother; but I know that I

have inherited her principal grief, which was this—that she was devoted by duty and affection to an erring man, her husband, and my father. Yes, I have inherited her grief, but with this difference—he deserted her, and I have been compelled to desert him. For several years I was with him on board the Antelope, that very vesse. in which Clinton tells us he was wrecked, and in which he lost his property. During its last voyage only, I was on shore, and when I again found my father, he was captain of a pirate cruiser.” Here she spread her hands over her face, and sobbed vehemently. Arthur was startled, and it cannot be denied that his heart misgave him at the thought of uniting himself to the daughter of a proscribed ruffian. Walking up and down the bridge, he was at first incapable of consoling her, but after the first shock was over, made full amends by the judicious and feeling manner with which he pressed her to unburden her mind without reserve, and to rely on his secresy and counsel.

My father was always kind to me,” she resumed, “ and took much care of me, although he would not allow me to leave him. In all weathers, during whatever peril, I was retained in his ship, so long as he was in it.”

• What!” .exclaimed Arthur “ in a pirate's ship!-among a lawless band! He must have taken great care of you, indeed—very great. To retain a young girl in such a situation, under such circumstances, for yearsthat was an evidence of his care of you, was it not ?"

Jane was silent; and he again paced the bridge disquieted, then stopping abruptly, said—“ And this is true, Jane, that you were kept in a piratical vessel by your father for-how long ?"

[ocr errors]

“ About three years,” said Jane, with a shudder. Arthur was transported with indignation.

“ He must have been a villain indeed!” cried he. “ Bless me, to what has he exposed you! This was worse than all his other crimes, of however deep a dye they might have been! An innocent, sensitive being like you, three years among a pirate horde !–Good heavens! I could not have believed it had you not said it. I could not imagine that a man could have existed so insensible to the proper feelings of a father, however, in other respects, he might be depraved. For my own part this is what I never could pardon."

Jane saw that he was yet greatly disturbed, and knew not how to abate the storm she had raised. “O father, father!” she exclaimed mentally, “ how much I may yet have to suffer for your errors !” In her excitement she wrung her hands, and longed to die.

“ Go on Jane-I implore you tell me all!” said Arthur, sitting by her with a gloomy countenance.“ How did you get away from this father who took so much care of you ?" His ironical tone increased her pain, and some minutes passed before she was able to proceed, during which, Arthur said not a word to her.

My father at one time had,” she said, “ a pretty cabin fitted up for me within his own, there I had every thing necessary for my use, and not a week passed without his bringing me some present;-sometimes pieces of cotton or muslin, silk or velvet ; sometimes beads, handkerchiefs, shawls, or trinkets.”

Plundered, I suppose," quickly interrupted Arthur. Jane was humbled to the dust-pang was succeeding pang—but she went on :-“ An old sailor, old Toby, as

« PreviousContinue »