Изображения страниц

burst out into a consuming flame-his passion became a very madness! His visits to Ivy Cottage were at short intervals repeated, and he experienced emotions he had hitherto unknown. Days, weeks, stole away on silken wing-his existence was now a delirious dream !

The divinity of Ivy Cottage was intimate with the young ladies at the hall, and a day seldom passed without intercourse. The sisters, through the keen perception of their sex, soon detected their brother's partiality; to her he presented the most beautiful flowers, laughed most at her innocent jocularity, and appeared to live only in her presence : he was, as they observed, enchanted—spellbound !

Surrounding Elleringay there were many delightful, romantic walks. In one direction

an interminable wood, where stood many a hoary forest-king, and amongst those sylvan solitudes wound many a lovely track seldom visited, and where silence undisturbedly reigned, save when the woodman's ringing stroke resounded, or the huntsman's


horn awoke the echoes of the morning. In another direction was a deep and dried ravine, at whose base a crawling brook babbled with a voice never hushed. In those secluded places would the lovers wander, and each imagined heaven had no paradise more felicitous than theirs !

Godfrey De Bohun, with much suppressed concern, had noticed this to him dissimulated attachment. He kept his council—he determined on being polite.

The time of the soldier's second departure waxed near. Care had now crept, like the serpent of Eden, within the threshold of Ivy Cottage—a sorrowing heart was there!

“ You look taciturn this evening, Moreton,” said De Bohun, as the latter chanced to find the young soldier, leaning in thoughtful reverie, against one of the huge elms which flourished in the park.

“I was thinking, sir, how often I had, when a boy, in my wantonness of courting peril, climbed the loftiest branches of this stately tree, when I was so happy, and before"

He ceased abruptly.

“Then, are you not happy now ?"

Do you fear the probabilities of an action ?

you -you, Morty, descended from the lionhearted kings—the heroic Plantagenets !"

“My profession, sir, is the one fitted to my nature. You jest when you ask if craven fear ever entered this breast. There may be dastardly cowards who call themselves men, and melt into woman's weakness in the hour of peril; if I thought I had one dram of such puddle-blood in my viens, my good sabre's edge should let it out. The day is not distant when there may be a theatre for distinction, and you, my dear father, shall know that in a remote descendant of the brave Earl of Cornwall, and the honoured Harlowen of our house, is one who doth not discard it then; who would not die like the Fifth Henry of France at a sham fight, nor yet tumble like James I. of England at a drawn sword !” concluded Moreton, with a smile.

Come, come, my lad!” said Godfrey, in a crowned tone of friendly frankness, on the night of the same day, after the family had retired; "confide in me, I will be your friend as well as father.”

“There is a cause for my sadness.”
66 Tell me, I pray.

“Well, then, I have irrevocably lost my heart—fallen inextricably in love—and I felt uncomfortable until I had ascertained your sentiments.

The athletes at the games at Olympus were wont to undress and anoint their bodies with unguents, so that in wrestling, the antagonist might with difficulty retain his hold; thus did Godfrey, to all appearance, put aside his anger, and oil his face with the smiles of dissimulation.

“Nothing can possibly be urged against a suitable match," returned the sire, laying emphasis on the adjective.

And, of course, corresponding ages, education, and accomplishments, equality of station, and, above all, mutual attachment, constitute such suitableness."

“ Affection! say you? Psha! boy-nonsense don't understand the world! When a man marries, he should regard others as well as himself; an indiscreet alliance is a step taken for ever. In the upper ranks the contingents are disproportionately important -the dowry is a matter of immense consideration—whilst accomplishments and socalled love-flames soon cease to charm-die out. One like yourself, descended from the Plantagenets, ought to win an heiress; I hope the young lady in question has no lack of acres and consols ?"

“ Your ideas and my own, sir, essentially differ. I asked not her position, but she told me she had not a stiyer!"

“Of course you are not serious—have not

“I have offered her my hand-she is mine affianced !"

“What—what, sir !” asked Godfrey, as in a paroxysm of rage he jumped from the chair; engaged without my consent! I will debar the entail. Elleringay Manor shall pass from an ungrateful son; I'll swear,

I will! Is this the return for all my anxiety - this the manner in which you repay your obligations ? I tell you coolly, imperturably,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »