Page images



before she herself had ever seen him ; she was the depository of her sister's secret, the guardian of her happiness, perhaps of her character and respectability; and was it possible she could prove so base a traitress as to avail herself of that sisterly confidence for inveigling the affections of her lover? No, no, no !--she must do justice to herself—it was treason to herself to impute such odious and incredible motives to her actions and feelings-she repelled the charge which her own sensitive mind had conjured up; it was as false as it was abominable: -it was, in fact, impossible.

Her heart amplified itself with the swell of complacent virtue as she pronounced this verdict of self-acquittal, though she resolved for the future to keep a strict watch upon her feelings, to subject every emotion of her bosom to a rigorous scrutiny, and not again needlessly alarm herself, unless some more unequivocal confirmation of her suspicions should arise.

This contingency occurred much sooner than she had anticipated. Reuben becoming every day more deeply enamoured, and conscious that

c 2

tion by a cough, he resolved to give himself

first upon indifferent subjects; when having, as

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

disconcerted. Attempting to conceal, his agita

his continued intimacy at the house required
the sanction of some acknowledged motive

, determined to wait no longer for the encouragement he had in vain been expecting, but to come

to an immediate eclaircissement by avowing his passion. Twice had he gone over to Harpsden Hall with this intention, but the others had prevented the execution of

2 of his purpose. On the third occasion every thing prored propitious. Lady Trevanian was confined by indisposition to her own apartment ; Adeline had gone out to make some purchases ; and yet while he rejoiced in the opportuneness of the moment, his heart fluttered, and he felt his courage sink within him. It was situation in which he had been so long wishing to find himself, and yet he never felt so utterly


• of

[ocr errors]

precisely the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

time to recover his self-possession by conversing

e of con

[ocr errors]

he thoughit, acquired a sufficient degree fidence, he reminded her that although, his cle hadrefunded the money with which her jes

ay *** nerous forethought had supplied him, the purse trawberg itself still remained in his own possession. He lisa drew it from his pocket, and as he restored it ne to its owner, again declared the fervent grati

tude with which his heart would ever be pene

trated. His feelings upon this subject inspiring cientos him with a warmth and tenderness unchecked the use by any apprehensions from their avowal, his

eloquence flowed with a spontaneous energy that fell like grateful music upon the ear of his auditress, who again declared that she would have bestowed the same cares upon any other

stranger, though she could not but feel parti- cularly gratified at having been in any degree

useful to a gentleman whom she -who was so near a neighbour, and the nephew of the muchrespected Mr. Goldingham.

* You cannot diminish your claim to my
gratitude,” exclaimed Reuben, with emotion :
“ but, if you would establish it upon another
basis which I would eternally recognize; if
you would bestow


the you have preserved ;-forgive me, Miss Trevanian ;

beforehand, implore your pardon, ere I

[ocr errors]



the treachery, the selfishness that would be im

would afford to the insinuations of Lady . Ta enje mother to society ; but this beatific vision did but glance athwart her mind. She recollected

give utterance to my presumption. I would Ebben not for worlds offend you, but my heart must be be relieved; I cannot any longer support this palm

, struggle of my feelings; my happiness or mi- pi che tra sery are in your hands. Once more I entreat. you to have compassion upon me, if I have 100 dared to aspire too high, but the confession musts and be made. I love you, Miss Trevanian, pre- anda de sumptuously perhaps ;—perhaps hopelesly :but passionately, fondly, unalterably.” Such is the more than lightning speed of petek

, to thought, that Helen, who, from his agitated manner, and the very beginning of his speech

, pihape had anticipated its conclusion, had conjured up in her mind a flitting vision of the happines she might enjoy with one so exactly after her in the own heart; of the refutation that their union

[ocr errors]


Crockatt and Mrs. Chatsworth; and of the assistance that her own establishment in the neighbourhood would afford in restoring her

hath car Lang the at thave

puted to her motives ;-she recalled her duty to Adeline, and summoning all her energies to appear calm, and suppress the heaving of her bosom, she replied in a low voice, “I am grateful, Mr. Apsley, for your good opinion ; flattered, not offended, by the attachment you profess; and perhaps, I should in my turn beg pardon for my freedom, when I remind you that you are young, very young, full of sensibility, and yielding, perhaps too inconsiderately, to the impressions of the moment. The passion which you now feel for me, you may perhaps at no remote period have entertained for another ; you may have awakened a reciprocal tenderness in a bosom able to bestow upon you the happiness which I ought notwhich I cannot confer. If such be the fact, may you enjoy every felicity, every blessing that earth can bestow; and believe me, Sir, among the number of your well-wishers, you will not have a warmer, sincerer--” Her voice began to falter, and she stopped short, for fear of betraying her emotion, while her eyes remained fixed upon the ground, and the blood

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »