Page images
PDF
EPUB

be by .acquainting me with her misfortunes ; yet am I not at liberty, to disclose either those or her name. Suffice.it, to see her is to admire her, to know her is to love her, and parting from her, is painful. So totally, is she sequestered, that though she has reason to think a good fortune recoverable, she would rather relinquish that than mix with the world, to which she has taken so bitter a distaste."

Every blessing attend her," returned Lord Melville; " and may she never meet an intruder who venerates her virtues less than myself!"

Our young friends chatted away the evening, till the clock struck twelve; at which time the ladies wished Lord Melville a good night.

The next morning they began their journey; Julia and Louisa in the chaise, Lord Melville on horseback, and three servants attending; but as little passed on the way, except affectionate attention on one side, and blushing on the other, we will

pass over the three days which brought them safe to West Park; where Lady Melville received Louisa in a manner, which plainly evinced merit to her' was more estimable than gold.

Lord Castlebrook became their visitant soon after, not at all to the dislike of Julia; whose tongue, iadeed, spoke the language of unconcern; whilst her eyes, directed only by nature, sparkled with added brightness.

1

For Lord Melville, actuated by an honorable passion, he sought not to disguise it; he viewed Louisa with admiration, and spoke of her with rapture. Nor was Lady Melville less partial; she carefully watched her son, and young friend; hoping to find mutual affection: but Louisa, more guarded than Julia, gave no reason to suppose she felt aught but esteem'; except now and then a rebel sigh escaped her at any particular attention paid her by the Earl.

Thus situated were our lovers, when the Coun- tess, being one day alone with Louisa, addressed her as follows: " I have for some time watched you with •an inquiring eye, my dear Louisa : Augustus lives but in your presence; and my peace, I own,

is centered in his. I have not been able to judge if you see him with the partiality I could wish: if you do, I shall be happy to embrace as my daughter her who already possesses my affection : if otherwise, though disappointed, believe me, Louisa, my friendship shall never leave you. ”

“My dear Madam," returned Louisa, "in what manner are you addressing a wretched girl, whose only pride is her dependence on Lady Melville ! You say, the Earl's happiness depends on me-Ah! Madam, were fortune and birth mine, my heart would quickly make return; or were I only poor, your generosity would make me forget that: but to have the man I esteem beyond the whole world,

pointed at for marrying a woman who knew, not her own parents believe me, I could not sup

port it."

“Indeed, Louisa," returned the Countess, “I did not imagine you so proud: but Lord Danford shall be obliged to own your

birth. After such base behaviour, he dares not claim you; or, if he should, my interest is as great as his. Besides, you are of an age to choose another guardian; which you shall do when we remove to town. In the mean time, if you can see Augustus with partiality, happy with each other, you may smile at the world, and despise its calumny; but, in case you do not approve him, I should be sorry he should nourish a passion that would embitter his future days."

“ Ah, Madam!" said Louisa, "pardon me; my heart's above my situation : did I possess worlds, I could be happy to be allied to Lady Melville; but, as it is, how must I be wounded to feel myself the only blemish in an honorable family!”

“ Think of this matter at your leisure, Louisa,'' returned Lady Melville; “nor let an overstrained delicacy deprive you of real happiness. For the present, retire, and calm a confusion visible in your looks; nor let Augustus or Julia guess my business by your disorder.—He must be his own advocate: I only mention my wishes."

Louisa did not stay for a second permission to retire, but hastened to her chamber. Why do

my cruel stars," said she, “oblige me to refuse the amiable Lord Melville? Why did we ever meet? My heart, already agonised, needed no fresh pang: for, should I accept his generous offer, may not time dissolve the charm that blinds his senses? Conscious of my inequality, I may be content without his affection; but his dislike would be too hard to bear."

So ruminated Louisa; till, suddenly recollecting herself, she determined to acquaint her friend Mrs. Rivers with what had passed, intreat her counsel, and follow implicitly her opinion. Thus determined, she immediately wrote to her, directing it, as she had been desired: To Mrs. Bennet, post-house, Kendal. By the time she had finished her letter, her heart beat lighter; and she joined her friends, tolerably composed.

CHAPTER XVI.

A FRIENDLY LETTER.

What is the world to them,
Its pomp, its pleasure, and its nonsense all!
Who, in each other, clasp whatever fair
High fancy forms, or lavish hearts can wish?

THOMSON'S SEASONS.

[ocr errors]

TWO posts passed, but the third brought Louisa the following answer:

« MY DEAR LOUISA! “ By the soft ties of affection, cemented by misfortune, I adopt thee mine, in lieu of her whom grief deprived of life before she felt the tender pressure of a parent's arm before the maternal tear had bedewed, or busy meddling memory had traced in her infant face one feature of her loved lost father: yet, with submission to the Divine will, still will I look forward to the moment we shall be again united;

and revere that never- erring Providence, whose wise dispensation translated my hapless infant from this bitter draught of misery. Encompassed with sorrow, lost to the world and its pursuits, how should I have guided her amidst the stormy paths of life! Yet you, Louisa, bave forced me to feel an interest beyond the cottage walls. Your welfare oft employs thoughts and hours, formerly given to contemplation. Your youth, your inexperience, need a guide. Where can you find so safe a one as in the happiness

« PreviousContinue »