Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

when joy, so nearly in thy grasp, was to be clouded; when he was to tell thee that in three short days you must part !

Godfrey's night was well nigh as sleepless as his son's. He communicated nothing of the altercation on the previous evening to Mrs. De Bohun, as he well knew her arguments would run counter with his own immutably entertained notions.

On the following morning the family assembled according to their wont at their early breakfast hour. The young ladies were cheerful and vivacious, as young ladies generally are; each affectionately kissed their parents' cheeks, and then evinced the same affection to their brother. It soon became evident that unusual taciturnity prevailed. Godfrey made some passing remark on the weather, looked gruff, and munched his hot roll in silence. Mrs. De Bohun spoke in monosyllables, poured out the coffee in quiet, as if instinctively conscious of something being in the wind. Moreton looked bewildered; the elder girls glanced interrogatively at one another; and the younger, they knew not why, sat still.

“Morty, my love, you look unwell this morning,” observed Miss De Bohun; "you seem pale—doesn't he, Papa ?” continued she, in tenderly enunciated accents, at the same time turning towards the father, who at that identical moment was giving sundry blows with the bowl of his teaspoon on the apex of a hard-boiled egg.

“Probably you are right, my dear—take your breakfast.”

Miss De Bohun understood her father, and was silenced. Mrs. De Bohun, after a while, concernedly made a similar remark to that of her daughter. The son counterfeited a smile, and, with an indifferent air, replied that he had a headache—he might have said also a heartache. After breakfast Godfrey took up the newspaper, and the ladies vanished.

Moreton wended his steps towards Ivy Cottage. When within a hundred yards of

retired little home, which, until closely approached, could scarcely be descried amongst the leafy trees, he caught a glimpse of the partially opened casement, and there

sat the pensive Emily. Poor, excited, anxious girl, she had long been awaiting his arrival, as it had on the previous day been decided that their engagement should be mentioned to De Bohun. Every slight noise that broke upon her ear, every leaf that fell, made her heart beat quicker. She was pallid and thoughtful, her mind had been vacillating between hope and fear. She beheld him ! His calm countenance, his moody manner, his measured step, chilled her inmost soul. The answer was divined before he spoke. Her lover entered the trellised porch, he peered into that little parlour, which we have described as like a halcyon bower—'twas now the scene of sorrow !

Moreton pressed Emily to his heart. “My jewel, be not discouraged, you anticipate my message! Cheer up, confide in me, all will be well; we still, still shall be happy! You know my father's temper his sad infirmity of temper; I have told

you of his ambition, his vanity. It would be in unison with his wishes if his son would bar

his eyes

ter his affections for gold; and you, my charmer, would have been more favoured in

had
you

been the possessor of glittering heaps— but list, my Emily, I swear before God never to wed another! Do you hear me, Emily?

She wept bitterly.

“My father hath declared—and in his anger he keeps his word—that if I marry you Elleringay Manor shall never be for us and ours."

“Oh! why did fate make us meet? Had I never known you, my birds, my flowers, had not been forsaken; the parterres before you, now overgrown with weeds and rank grass, had yielded hours of harmless delight -of tranquil pleasure still. My books, my paintings,—what are they now? My voice never rises into song, my lute hath forgot its strains, my harp hangs silent on the wall. Ivy Cottage, once the abode of tranquillity and calm, is now the vexed spot of harrowing anguish and of dread despair !"

“Emily, it would be very madness to sacrifice this fair domain, when you can trust your Moreton. You know these goodly lands were, centuries past, the bequest of a monarch, and how would mine reproach me if they were alienated. In the eye of that God before whose tribunal we must one day stand, I am, in word, in soul, in love, in all save priestly rite, your husband ! ”

Moreton wept; his tears fell full and fast.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »