Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ And do you almire the Virginia of Bernardin St. Pierre ???

“ She left her mother,” said Jane, “ to gain a fortune."

“ But that was for the sake of Paul, whom she loved," sail Clinton. “ Did you but love as Virginia loved!”

“ If I did, I should not remain thus conversing with a man who would induce me to break my word,” calmly returned Jane; “and though I do not love like Virginia, yet I shou!d not remain here thus, only with the hope of doing good. When we first came to this valley, Clinton, the Pastor's family were happy.—Is it so now? Does not your heart upbraid you?”

“ No," said Clinton, with a short laugh of disdain, and gratified vanity, which he scarcely troubled himself to restrain. “ I know perfectly to whom you allude-to Miss Lee. But think you,” said he, gaily, “ she is the only weak woman who has sighed for me? Wherever I have gone, Jane, I have found very little trouble in persuading ladies to break their hearts for me. They construe a few general compliments into confessions of love; a few gallantries, into a positive offer; and when our fancies flit from one to another fair flower-as fancies are apt to do—there is a great pother made about nothing, and we get all the blame; whereas, you must confess, the fault all lies with the pretty sentimental sufferers, themselves. Did they never hear that · Jove laughs at lovers perjuries? A man of spirit professes admiration for every young lady, that he is pleased with at all; but how weak those ladies must be if they suppose that the gentleman is prepared to put himself in matrimonial bonds with them all. Folly! Miss Lee would

have seen me play a different part had I intended any thing serious. To prevent the valley becoming dull to me, I amused myself as much as I could with singing, talking, reading, and so on. Miss Lee was captivated directly with what she was pleased to call my genius; and I could not, of course, be so barbarous, as to refrain from repeating that which gave her delight. You, unlike Lucy, have been insensible to all my efforts to entertain you; pure as ice, and quite as cold, you have been unkind to me; no kind glance from you has ever answered to mine; even my peach Jave refused, though the favoured Mr. Lee presented it to her.”

A second feeble sound reached the ear of Jane from the bushes, and she changed countenance, moved by a painful conjecture. The next instant she was at the spot whence the sound proceeded, and that conjecture received confirmation, for there lay Lucy at the foot of a tulip-tree. The unhappy girl had stepped aside to pluck some flowers, which now lay scattered on the soil beside her, and had overheard nearly the whole conversation between Clinton and Jane. Shocked, and burning with shame, she had remained standing unable to move, until a faintness came over her senses, and she fell.”

6 Mr. Clinton! Mr. Clinton !” exclaimed Jane, in alarm, and he immediately stepped between the bushes to a small grassy space.

“ Heavens !” he cried; “ how came Miss Lee in this state ?"

“ I have no doubt, Mr. Clinton, she has heard all you have said ?” exclaimed Jane.

“ I hope not,” said he, stooping with Jane to raise Lucy from the ground. By Jove! I would not have

had her hear me for a thousand pounds! It would be the death of her!”

“ But even in that case, you know, Mr. Clinton, it would be very hard for you to have the blame of the event-it is all the fault of the pretty sentimental sufferer hersell."

“ Jane—Jane—a sight like this is sufficient punishment for me,” he cried, then kissing the hand of the insensible girl, protested, with an agitated countenance, that he would instantly remedy the evil he had caused, were it not too late. Jane said there was no remedy in his power now. She then left him, with one knee on the ground, supporting Lucy in a sitting posture, while she hastened toward the house. Seeing Deborah, she beckoned her quickly, and turned back to the spot where Lucy lay.

O my young mistress !” exclaimed the warm-hearted Irish girl ; “ it's I will carry you to the house, in my own arms, at any rate; for I love

you

heart for your tindir disposition !" and so saying, she took up the slight figure as if it had been a child's, and conveyed it with care to the door of the lodge, where Arthur stood. He could not see Deborah until she turned an angle of the wall near the doorway, but as soon as his eye fell upon her, he started forward, and received his sister from her breast. Immediately he carried Lucy into the family apartment, and laid her upon a sofa. The Pastor was called.

Clinton remained in unpleasant meditation and suspense outside the house, walking backwards and forwards, under the windows of the room in which Lucy was. Jane assisted Deborah in restoring her, while Arthur

with all my

sent off a man to the nearest village for a physician. Lucy opened her eyes and gazed around on the anxious faces collected near her. A long-drawn sigh which she heaved brought the tears into her brother's eyes.

“ Lucy !-sister!” he exclaimed, “what ails you ? Do you know us?” She placed his hand on her heart:

“ I am so oppressed here, Arthur,” she said, and then closed her eyes.

“ She has fainted again!” said the Pastor. " I wish the doctor had arrived. Jane, you went into the garden immediately after leaving me, and there found Lucy on the ground, did you not say so ?”

“ I was speaking with Clinton, sir, in the little path by the tulip-trees, when I heard a cry, and going inside the bushes I saw her lying as she is now.”

"Well,” said he, “it is little use perplexing ourselves to determine the cause of her illness, when she has recovered she herself will inform us of it, and we must have patience."

The evening wore away, and midnight approached, none of the inmates of the lodge were retired to rest, but all awaited the arrival of the physician with anxiety. The miller and a field labourer set out about one o'clock with lights to meet him, and returned at the dawn of daylight, with a Doctor Bathurst. He ordered his patient to be immediately undressed and put to bed, which, having been done, he drew out his lancet and bled her in the arm. This experiment was attended with so little satisfactory result, that he was entreated to remain a day or two in the bouse, that he might be at hand in case of any more serious symptoms occurring. To this he consented, and a man was dispatched to the village to in

form the Doctor's household that his return would be uncertain, and should he be wanted they were to give him notice. During the day, he had private conversation with Arthur and the Pastor, when he gave it his opinion that her constitution had been undermined with consumption, which had been hastened, at least, by mental agitation, and that she was in positive danger.

The Pastor received the tidings with silence, lifting his eyes to the sky as he stood by the open window, then putting on his clerical hat, and grasping his stick by the wrong end, unconsciously, went out of the house, and strayed into the most shaded parts of the orchard, where only the

eye

of heaven could behold the hard struggle in his soul between faith and grief.

But Arthur, young, impetuous, unused to sorrow, and indignant against Clinton, after his first burst of distress was over, sought the man whom, in his haste, he accused as the destroyer of his sister. He was passing Lucy's chamber, and looked in, pushing the door inwards noiselessly; the curtains were looped up at the foot of the bed, so that he could see her half raised on pillows, her eyes closed; green blinds, drawn down to the bottom of the windows, subdued the strong light of the afternoon sun to a soft hue, just suitable for a sick chamber, and combined, with the white furniture of the bed, to exhibit the invalid in the most interesting point of view. The full borders, edged with English pillow-lace, of her muslin cap, heightened the soft expression of her now colourless features; and a large shawl formed a simple drapery for the upper part of her figure.

Arthur beheld her with melancholy and tender admiration. No object, to his partial eve, had ever appeared

« PreviousContinue »