Imágenes de página

audible sigh, and instantly repented his temporary attentions to such an unworthy object as your Julia, and, with a very comical expression of consciousness, drew near to Lucy's work-table. He made some trifling observation, and her reply was one in which nothing but an ear as acute as that of a lover, or a curious observer like myself, could have distinguished anything more cold and dry than usual. But it conveyed reproof to the self-accusing hero, and he stood abashed accordingly. You will admit that I was called upon in generosity to act as mediator. So I mingled in the conversation, in the quiet tone of an unobserving and uninterested third party, led them into their former habits of easy chat, and, after having served awhile as the channel of communication through which they chose to address each other, set them down to a pensive game of chess, and very dutifully went to tease papa, who was still busied with his drawings. The chessplayers, you must observe, were placed near the chimney, beside a little work-table, which held the board and men

-the Colonel at some distance, with lights upon a library table,-for it is a large old-fashioned room, with several recesses, and hung with grim tapestry, representing what it might have puzzled the artist himself to explain.

66 • Is chess a very interesting game, papa ? '

“. I am told so, without honouring me with much of his notice.

I should think so, from the attention Mr. Hazlewood and Lucy are bestowing on it.'

“ He raised his head hastily, and held his pencil suspended for an instant. Apparently he saw nothing that excited his suspicions, for he was resuming the folds of a Mahratta’s turban in tranquillity, when I interrupted him with—How old is Miss Bertram, sir ? '

you should

66. How should I know, Miss ? about your own age, I suppose.

“Older, I should think, sir. You are always telling me how much more decorously she goes through all the honours of the tea-table.-Lord, papa, what if give her a right to preside once and forever!'

“6 Julia, my dear,' returned papa, "you are either a fool outright, or you are more disposed to make mischief than I have yet believed you.'

666 O, my dear sir! put your best construction upon it --I would not be thought a fool for all the world.'

6 " Then why do you talk like one?' said my father.

66 6 Lord, sir, I am sure there is nothing so foolish in what I said just now. Everybody knows you are a very handsome man,' (a smile was just visible,) that is, for your time of life,' (the dawn was overcast,) which is far from being advanced, and I am sure I don't know why you should not please yourself, if you have a mind. I am sensible I am but a thoughtless girl, and if a graver companion could render you more happy’

“ There was a mixture of displeasure and grave affection in the manner in which my father took my hand, that was a severe reproof to me for trifling with his feelings. “Julia,' he said, “I bear with much of your petulance, because I think I have in some degree deserved it, by neglecting to superintend your education sufficiently closely. Yet I would not have you give it the rein upon a subject so delicate. If you do not respect the feelings of your surviving parent towards the memory of her whom you have lost, attend at least to the sacred claims of misfortune; and observe, that the slightest hint of such a jest reaching Miss Bertram's ears, would at once induce her to renounce her present asylum, and go forth without


a protector, into a world she has already felt so friendly

“What could I say to this, Matilda ?-I only cried heartily, begged pardon, and promised to be a good giil in future. And so here am I neutralized again ; for I cannot, in honour, or common good nature, tease poor Lucy by interfering with Hazlewood, although she has so little confidence in me; and neither can I, after this grave appeal, venture again upon such delicate ground with papa. So I burn little rolls of paper, and sketch Turks' heads upon visiting cards with the blackened end, -I assure you, I succeeded in making a superb HyderAlly last night-and I jingle on my unfortunate harpsichord, and begin at the end of a grave book and read it backward.—After all, I begin to be very much vexed about Brown's silence. Had he been obliged to leave the country, I am sure he would at least have written to me.--Is it possible that my father can have intercepted his letters ? But no—that is contrary to all his principles—I don't think he would open a letter addressed to me to-night, to prevent my jumping out of window tomorrow.-What an expression I have suffered to escape my pen! I should be ashamed of it, even to you, Matilda, and used in jest. But I need not take much merit for acting as I ought to do. This same Mr. Vanbeest Brown is by no means so very ardent a lover as to hurry the object of his attachment into such inconsiderate steps. He gives one full time to reflect, that must be admitted. However, I will not blame him unheard, nor permit myself to doubt the manly firmness of a character which I have so often extolled to you. Were he capable of doubt, of fear, of the shadow of change, I should have little to regret.

“ And why, you will say, when I expect such steady and unalterable constancy from a lover, why should I be anxious about what Hazlewood does, or to whom he offers his attentions ?-I ask myself the question a hundred times a-day, and it only receives the very silly answer,--that one does not like to be neglected, though one would not encourage a serious infidelity.

“I write all these trifles, because you say that they amuse you, and yet I wonder how they should. I remember, in our stolen voyages to the world of fiction, you always admired the grand and the romantic--tales of knights, dwarfs, giants, and distressed damsels, soothsayers, visions, beckoning ghosts, and bloody hands,whereas I was partial to the involved intrigues of private life, or at farthest, to so much only of the supernatural as is conferred by the agency of an Eastern genie or a beneficent fairy.

You would have loved to shape your course of life over the broad ocean, with its dead calms and howling tempests, its tornadoes, and its billows mountainhigh,—whereas I should like to trim my little pinnace to a brisk breeze in some inland lake or tranquil bay, where there was just difficulty of navigation sufficient to give interest and to require skill, without any sensible degree of danger. So that, upon the whole, Matilda, I think you should have had my father, with his pride of arms and of ancestry, his chivalrous point of honour, his high talents, and his abstruse and mystic studies ;-you should have had Lucy Bertram, too, for your friend, whose fathers, with names which alike defy memory and orthography, ruled over this romantic country, and whose birth took place, as I have been indistinctly informed, under circumstances of deep and peculiar interest ;-you should have had, too, our Scottish residence, surrounded by mountains, and our lonely walks to haunted ruins. And I should have had, in exchange, the lawns and shrubs, and green-houses, and conservatories, of Pinepark, with your good, quiet, indulgent aunt, her chapel in the morning, her nap after dinner, her hand at whist in the evening, not forgetting her fat coach-horses and fatter coachman. Take notice, however, that Brown is not included in this proposed barter of mine ;-his goodhumour, lively conversation, and open gallantry, suit my plan of life, as well as his athletic form, handsome features, and high spirit, would accord with a character of chivalry. So, as we cannot change altogether out and out, I think we must e'en abide as we are.


« AnteriorContinuar »