« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
season of all energy. So much had her pillow was prest by an aching he been with her of late, so congenial head; but the morning soon dawned, were their tastes and pursuits, and so and with it came a reassured spirit. absolute was her dependence on him, In a day or two at farthest she should that when on reaching the cottage have a letter from the young travelshe found Charles no longer there, a ler, and this would go far to fill up light seemed vanished from her path, the void occasioned by his absence. and her once happy home, forlorn Three days thus passed ; and early and darkened, to wear the aspect of a on the fourth, the Llançadock postman house of mourning: Hlers was in brought up the expected epistle to the fact just the sort of nature to enter- cottage. Oh, how Fanny devoured its tain a pure, fervent, and engrossing contents! It was written in the most passion like this. She was a creature cheerful spirits. Charles had nearly of quick and ardent impulses ; simple accomplished the business which took and affectionate ; of a high-toned or- him to town, and would to a certainder of imagination--too often, alas! ty be back that day week, when she humanity's worst foe; with all the was to meet him, as agreed upon, at freshness of youth in her heart, as its the turnpike gate. Holding the prebloom was on her cheek ; and with a cious document in her hand, Fanny certain innate refinement of look and few first to her aunt, and then to Mr. manner which far more than compen. Grissytlis, to communicate the wel. sated for the absence of that artificial come intelligence, and in the evenpolish induced by an acquaintance ing sat down and penned an answer, with what is called “good society.” which she took herself to the postThough uneducated in the fashionable office. sense of the term, yet she had read As the happy creature's mind had and thought much--had a poet's eye now recovered its ususal elasticity, the for the ever-varying aspects of na- hours few rapidly by, the week apture—the stern, emphatic frown of proached its termination, and now it winter, the sunny smile of spring, the wanted only one day to the period grave, serene majesty of autumn-- wbich Charles had fixed on for his and was familiar with the works of arrival. On the evening of that day many of our best writers; for Mr Fanny took a stroll with her aumt Grifiyths, to whom she was as dear through the village, who could not reas if she were his own child, had been frain from a smile when she saw the assiduous in his efforts to draw forth joyous and excited state of her mind. all the powers of her mind. For such By this time to-morrow, aunt," she a being to love and love with her said, “Charles will have returned to whole soul as though it were the ele- us. I have been to the gate, and they ment from which her life derived its tell me the coach passes it at noon. verdure, and without which the green Oh, how happy it will make us all to stalk of her youth must decay--was see him again! And we shall have so as natural as for birds to sing, and much to talk about you know! We flowers to “ fill the lap of May." The shall hear all his adventures where he casket that enshrined this fair treasure lived- how he employed his time-and was every way worthy of it. Her what he thought of those fine new figure was buoyant, sylph-like, and streets and buildings that we read so graceful in every movement; her inuch about. And then we have so many countenance, with the soft blue eye plans to arrange for the next month. and exquisitely formed mouth, full of We are to spend a few days at Clifexpression; and she had that sweet, ton, which Charles tells me is one of low voice, “an excellent thing in the loveliest spots in England ; to visit woman,” which wins its way to the Bath where he went to school ; and heart, like the music of one's native Tintern Abbey on our way back ; and home heard in a far off land. Such if the weather continues favourable, to was the innocent, trusting, and lovely take a trip to North Wales, which I creature who now, for the first time have so long wished to see. Oh, how in her life, felt thought press like a happy we shall be, shall we not, aunt ?” burden on her imagination, which she and thus the lively girl ran on; while would fain but could not shake off. all who passed her, young and old, The night after Charles's departure blessed the radiant countenance which
beamed with such ineffable sweetness very spot with Charles; and the reand good-humour.
flection lending additional impetus to The next day Fanny was astir with her movements, in a few minutes she the lark ; and long ere the sun had reached the turnpike, where sat the dispelled the vapours which cling round gatekeeper on a bench outside his the forehead of Llynn-y-van, she had door, with a tankard of cwrw beside gathered a basket full of the choicest him. fruits in the garden, and disposed her “ A fine afternoon, Miss Fanny." flower-pots on the lawn in front of the “ Yes, indeed, David—what time do cottage, in the order that she knew you expect the coach by ?" Charles most liked. Mr Griffyths “ It will be here in a few seconds, came up to breakfast with them—an miss," replied the old man. “I suppose unusual thing with him, for he was a now you are expecting Master Charles," late riser--and when the meal was and the speaker looked archly at her, over, Fanny quitted the room to come for their betrothment was no secret to plete her preparations for the travel- the neighborhood. ler's arrival. The wonted dinner “ Yes," said Fanny, with a brighthour at three o'clock was put off till ening glow on her cheek; “we rather four; the servant was sent into the vil. think he will be here to-day, as Mr lage to purchase the tenderest poultry Griffyths has received no intimation that could be procured; the fruit, trimly from him to the contrary;" and then. garnished with leaves and Aowers, was anxious to drop the subject, though it set out on the sideboard; and a bottle engrossed all her thoughts, she entered of unimpeachable wine, which had re- the house, and began caressing the mained in the cellar since Captain gatekeeper's grandchild—a fine curly Davis's death, was hunted up and headed boy, some five or six years old. broached for the occasion.
She was thus engaged, infinitely to When all these little household pre- the delight of the child, who made her parations were finished, Fanny, simply assist him in hunting a kitten under a and gracefully attired in white, Charles's chest of drawers, when suddenly her favourite dress, with a single rose in her quick ear caught the roll of wheels, hair, and a light straw bonnet, whose and bounding to the door, she exshape set off her beautiful face to the claimed, clapping her hands with joy, greatest advantage, took her way alone, “Here it is—I am sure this is it!" for she would not even accept of her aunt At about two hundred yards' disas a companion, to the place of meet- tance from the gate, the road made a ing. As she tripped across the com- sudden bend, forming an acute angle, mon she could not help contrasting so that no vehicle could be seen till the present state of her feelings with it was close to the turnpike, though the what they were on the day when she tramp of the horses' feet might be parted from Charles. Then she was heard long before. For some minutes, a prey to blank dejection. Now she therefore, Fanny, was in a state of the was all hope and cheerfulness. Every most exciting suspense ; but the mo well-known object on which her eye ment the supposed stage turned the now rested seemed arrayed in more corner of the road, she found, to her than usual beauty—every sound that disappointment, that it was merely a came to her ear seemed informed with private carriage. a blither spirit. A brighter-fresher “Never fear, young lady," said the green adorned the elastic carpet on gatekeeper," it will be here immewhich she trode ; the precipitous heights diately; Joe's always remarkably of the Black Mountains, furrowed punctual; I never knew him ten miwith the storms of ages, wore a sun- nutes behind in my life, and I've kept nier aspect ; the thrush from the depihs this turnpike ever since your father of the neighboring copses sang sweet- ah, here it comes, you can tell it by er in her ear; and a more invigorating the cloud of dust it raises ; now then, influence breathed in the wind that Miss, now for Master Charles ; I'N came wooingly toward her. The warrant me he's on the look-out;" church clock from Llangadock struck then, in an under tone to himself
, two as she crossed the little wood- “Well, well, it's quite natural at their en bridge that spans the brawling age, poor things; I remember at their Sawthy. In half-an-hour hence, she time of life I was just as fond of courtsaid to herself
, I shall be passing this ing as they are, though it seems strange
enough to me now;" and so saying, the clergyman was sitting with spec. the honest fellow finished his tankard, tacles on nose, conning over his next as if to make himself amends for his Sunday's sermon ; and greatly was departed sensibilities.
Fanny comforted, when her first acute How the young girl's heart beat burst of anguish was over, by perceivas the sound of wheels drew near! Pre- ing how soon the old folks were reconcious load that vehicle bore, for all she ciled to Charles's non-appearance. most cherished on earth was there. They took for granted that his affairs And now it turns the corner-an in- had detained him longer than he had stant, and it is halting at the turnpike calculated on, and felt assured that he gate! But no kind voice greeted Fan. would arrive on the morrow, or the ay's anxious ears-no familiar face was day after at farthest. They even rallit up with smiles at her presence. The lied Fanny on, what she called, her passengers were all strangers to her. “ presentiment;" but finding that this One brief, searching, glance sufficed light tone pained her, Mr. Griffyths, to tell her this; and before she could who was well aware how vivid her summon up courage enough to make imagination was, and how apt she was inquiries, the coach was again on the at times to be carried away by its immove, leaving the wretched girl stand- pulses, whether sad or cheerful, asing on the foot-path a prey to the bit- sumed a more earnest manner, and terest disappointment.
after pointing out to her how com. Pitying her distress, the old gate. pletely the letter from Charles had keeper approached her. “Come, come, proved the fallacy of those vague fears Miss Fanny,” he said, “ don't take which had beset her on the evening of matters so to heart; depend on it the his departure, at length succeeded in young gentleman will be here within persuading her that her apprehensions the next four-and-twenty hours. Most on the present occasion would turn likely all the places were engaged out to be equally groundless. "He when he applied at the booking-office, will be here to-morrow, or the day for as you must have seen yourself, after," added the clergyman; “but if the coach was full inside as well as not, depend on it you will have a letter out; my life on it, he will come to-mor. from him, explaining the cause of his TOW."
prolonged absence,”-an opinion in « Yes, yes, David, you are right, he which Mrs. Davis coincided. will come to-morrow; but it will be a On the following day, immediately great disappointment to his father, for after breakfast, the anxious girl set off we all fully expected him to-day. Is for Llangadock, concluding, as Mr. there any other coach that will pass Griffyths had suggested, that there this road in the course of the even would be a letter for her, if Charles ing ?"
meditated a longer stay. She met the “ No, Miss; this is the only one.” postman on her road, and ascertaining
u Well, then, I must have patience from him that there were no commutill to-morrow, when I will call here nications either for the clergyman, her again. Good afternoon, David," and aunt, or herself, she turned back to with a heavy sigh Fanny turned away the cottage, not disappointed, but fully from the turnpike, and pursued her sol. convinced that Charles would be with itary road home.
her that day. Again therefore were On reaching the garden gate, her the domestic arrangements of the preaunt, who caught sight of her from ceding day repeated; and at the apthe window, surprised to see her re- pointed hour, Fanny bent her steps to turn alone, hastened down the lawn to the turnpike, accompanied by Mr. meet her.
Griffyths, whom she kept at his utmost * Why, how is this Fanny?" exclaim- speed, at the same time expressing her ed Mrs. Davis, “ where is Charles ? surprise that he walked so “very
Oh, aunt, aunt,” replied Fanny, very slow!" bursting into tears, “he is not come They had not reached the gate many
- he never will come-I have seen minutes before the coach again drew him for the last time."
up. Fanny looked anxiously into the “ Nonsense, child; but come in, passengers' faces, but as before they Mr. Griffyths is waiting to hear the were all strange to her. “ Unkind ? news.”
she murmured as she turned away They entered the parlour, where with a sickness of heart that passes
description, “ unkind, when he knows difmissed the idea that he had forgotwhat agony his suspease occasions ten or forsaken her. But there arose me !" Mr. Griffyths himself now be- another dreadful apprehension in her gan to feel some uneasiness respecting mind. He might be ill-stretched on his son, but observing his companion's the bed of sickness in some lone, comprofound dejection, he strove to keep fortless inn, with none but strangers up a cheerful spirit, and repeated, as to minister to his wants; or—God of they returned home, his conviction Heaven !-he might be dead ! and givthat Charles would be with them in a ing away to this last impression, the day or two. Mrs. Davis reasoned in sensitive girl covered her face with the same manner, but not once through- her hands, and sobbed as if her heart out the remainder of that long, gloomy was breaking. At night when she evening were they able, with all their returned to her chamber, she knelt endeavours, to rouse Fanny's spirits. down and strove to compose her mind A thousand conflicting emotions beset by prayer. Long and fervently she her, as she sat silently by the win- supplicated that the bitter cup might dow, looking out on Carricksawthy. pass away; and when the next day She recalled the many proofs of devot- came, and brought with it soine laned affection that Charles had shown guid revival of hope, she set of again to her-his frank and generous nature- the post-office, and thence to the turnhis anxiety to anticipate even her pike, but at both places she was doomslightest wishes and above all, his ed to meet with the same disappointutter indifference to the tastes and ment. pursuits of the gay world--and at once
Adieu from thenceforth to all hope rection but some thing reminded her of in Fanny's mind! That blessed balm the departed. From the window she has lost its power to act. The kind beheld the bridge where he used so. remonstrances of the now really often to stand watching the sun drop alarmed old folks take not the slightest behind Llynn-y-van; his flute lay be. hold on her attention. Silent, but tween the book-shelves ; his landscape. uncomplaining, and without the power sketches adorned the wall; and the even to shed a tear, she sat for hours very volume which he had been readtogether with her eyes scarcely ever ing the evening before he left, remain lifted from the ground; nor did she ed just where he had placed it, on his even express satisfaction when Mr. writing-desk. Griffyths informed her that he had Four days had now elasped since written to the landlord of the inn Charles had been expected home, and where his son had given his address, the fifth was drawing to a close. On and was in daily expectation of a re- the night of that day Mrs. Davis, who ply. One sole thought haunted her had not long retired to rest, was sudimagination. Charles was dead! The denly roused from sleep by a piercing companion of her childhood, the friend shriek proceeding from her niece's and adviser of her youth, the chosen chamber. She rushed into the room, of her heart, who should have walked accompanied by her servant, who had hand and hand with her through life been Fanny's nurse in childhood, and -him she should meet no more on by the dim rush-light which was burnthis side the grave? Yet strange to ing on the table, beheld her sitting up say, though entertaining this convic- in bed, in a state little short of distrar. tion, she still persisted in paying a tion. daily visit to the turnpike, notwith “Oh God!” she cried, wringing standing all her aunt's intreaties, who her hands in agony, “he is dead, began to dread the effect of such re- aunt—he is . dead-dead—his spirit peated shocks on her reason. The stood beside me just now, and in a state of seclusion in which she lived - hollow voice-oh, so altered from the very objects which surrounded what it used to be!-he bade me a her—tended still farther to increase long farewell.” Fanny's sense of utter desolation. She “My dear love, be composed, I could not cast her eyes in any one din intreat you," said Mrs. Davis, seating
herself on the bed beside her niece, tone with the clergyman about the and wiping the damps from her fore- propriety of calling in medical aid head, do not give way to these dis- from Llandovey, she turned on her a mal fancies. It was a mere dream ; glance that made her shudder. Sudnothing more."
denly however her whole demeanour “ Not so, aunt ; it is a solemn re- changed. She started up from the velation from another world. I prayed chair where she had been sitting, near to be permitted to see him but once the window, and before her aunt could more, even though he were no longer recover from her astonishment, she on earth; and my prayer has been was half-way across the lawn on her answered! It was his form I saw- return, with a letter addressed to Mr his voice I heard-do you think I Griffyths. How dreadful was the could fail to know him again? He is expression of her countenance when dead, I tell you, dead! and I was she re-entered the parlour! She had
not by to soothe his last moments! snatched the letter from the postman ; * Charles-dearest Charles-why did the writing was unknown to her ; but
you ever leave us ? Hark ! she she saw that the seal was black ! continued, turning abruptly to her Giving the communication into the aunt with a look of strange meaning, clergyman's hands, she exclaimed, “ do you not hear a distant bell? with a ghastly smile, “ Well, aunt, I They are tolling for a funeral ; are am right; it was no dream ; Charles, they not?"
once my Charles, is dead !" Her servant here whispered some It was even so. The letter was thing in Mrs. Davis's ear, which, at- from the house-agent whom the young tracting her niece’s notice, she said, man had employed to arrange the sale with a bitter smile, “ You think I am of his cottages, and stated in dry, forill, aunt-mad perhaps ; but no, no, mal, business-like terms, that shortly I am well-quite well-would to God after his arrival in London, he had that I were_hark, there is that dread. caught a violent cold ; that he had full bell again!" and with a sudden, made light of the matter, neglecting
impetuous movement she raised her even the most ordinary precautions ; 5
hands to her head, as if to shut out the consequence of which was that a the sound. In this bewildered state fever of the worst kind had supershe continued for upwards of an hour, vened, and affecting the brain, had when she sank exhausted into a heavy carried him off in a few days; and but unrefreshing sleep, while her aunt that the writer had only been made kept watch beside her till daybreak. acquainted with the melancholy cir.
When she appeared at breakfast cumstances, by accidently calling at next morning, her look-her voice the inn where the young gentleman her manner-impressed Mr. Griffyths, lodged, when the landlord requested who now spent almost all his days at him to lose not a moment in commuthe cottage, with the saddest forebo- nicating with the deceased's relatives. dings. She scarcely answered any On the receipt of this intelligence question that was put to her ; but Mr Griffyths, on whom it fell with when she did, it was with an abrupt. quite a stunning effect, started off for
ness and irritability that showed how the metropolis by the same coach, and is much the effort cost her. A settled, from the same place, as his ill-fated
icy despair seemed to have frozen up son ; who was buried in one of the
at her faculties. Even her manner gloomiest of the city churchyards, far i to her aunt was altered. She appeared from his native home, and from her
suspicious of her every look and move- whose heart was hourly breaking for ment; and when she happened to his loss. overhear her consulting in an under.
When the clergyman returned utter delirium. Her quick and ardent home from his mournful journey to feelings alternately acting, and react
London, another dreadful shock await- ed on, by an imagination equally ferto ed him. The child of his affections- vid, had wholly overpowered her rea
the pride of his age-lay in a state of son—made her, in short, a raging