« VorigeDoorgaan »
in a state of insensibility was of immense use in dispelling ennui, as well as in giving people something to talk about.”
“ It must have been a troublesome maneuvre for the husband, who would be obliged to carry her out. I hope my wife in such a case may not weigh above nine stone five or six.”
“I rather pique myself on having discovered a mental alchemy for myself, that turns the base metal of discontent and weariness into the bright gold of gaiety and happiness,” said Lord Iona in his wonted tone of most attractive good-humour; “my plan is the reverse of Father Eustace's, who turns the gold into dross. Every generous feeling, every noble sentiment, every independent action, he would put into his own crucible, to be debased into slavery and wretchedness."
“It is strange,” said Lady Edith, “that though parents watch the first symptoms of fever in those children they love, no precautions are taken against the earliest tendencies or the gradual increase of the Popish fever in our families, when every English home is now besieged by it, and when the dereliction of any one member is worse than his death. How much recent misery might have been spared had such a guard been kept over those who ought to be watched with affectionate influence !"
“ It is a wonder,” said Lord Iona, looking very misanthropical, “ that the whole civilized world has not risen en masse, to banish the Jesuits from every community, as the common enemies of virtue and mankind. Better to be in the chariot of
Mark Anthony drawn by tigers, than to drag on life deprived of liberty, virtue, and intellect, beggared in fortune, and denuded of every earthly attachment. I learn daily more and more the inestimable value of affections founded on esteem, and on entire confidence," added Lord Iona, with an earnest glance towards Beatrice, who coloured deeply, as she met his eye gleaming with animation and sensibility, while the fervent tone in which he spoke rung a peal of pleasure in her ears as he continued in an undertoned whisper to herself,“ Pray, Miss Farinelli, is love such as mine a thing you believe in at all ?”
Perhaps I do,” replied Beatrice, with a yet brighter scarlet on her cheek.
“ It is impossible you should not,” answered Lord Iona; “ if you did not love me, I should hate myself. Every law that ever treated on reciprocity, commands you to believe in and to reciprocate my long trial—at least for several weeks—attachment. You know, Miss Farinelli, the old fairy tale says, that souls are all made in pairs, and carried down to the earth in balloons which break on touching the ground. The two wander apart in misery till they are reunited, which very seldom happens in this wide world. You and I had very nearly missed each other, and the result would have been most calamitous to both, but now all's well that ends well.'»
“ Not so fast," replied Beatrice in a low under tone; 6 I have heard that which makes it not impossible for me one day to be happy, but till the
good news is confirmed, I dare not promise myself, nor any one else, ever to see me otherwise than I am. There are at present you know, as I consider, impediments 22 “ Pshaw s” exclaimed Lord Iona with goodhumoured petulance, “the impediments are all your own invention; you made all the giants, and you must positively kill them for yourself, as I cannot even see them. You like giving up your own will, in your own way, but let me hope you may not be obstinately cruel now, for I really cannot stand it. All the unwelcome things you said to me formerly, are now like the mist of a half-forgotten dream; but my heart has always cherished one bright undying hope of future felicity, and there can be no happiness to me without you. I grasp at any straws, therefore, that will preserve me from the deep waters of despair.” The cheek of Beatrice flushed deeply, and her eyes betrayed a tremor of sensibility, for she felt this a strange crisis in her existence, when the love that had remained so long unspoken, might perhaps now be, for the first time, fully acknowledged. She feared to say too much or too little, and sat in unutterable felicity, but in a degree of fluttering embarrassment which scarcely dimmed the perfection of her happiness, while Lord Iona, encouraged by her evident emotion, spoke to her again and again in accents of the deepest tenderness and of the most ardent hope. She wished, yet feared to tell him how entirely his devoted love was appreciated, and returned, but felt that
to her the privilege had not yet arrived, as to the Psyche of fabulous times, to unveil her own heart.
“ Let me consult an oracle as to my future hopes," said Lord Iona, in a tone of hopeful vivacity, increased by the evident bashfulness of Beatrice, who rose to hurry out of the room in agitated confusion. “Do you remember in the
Gentlemen of Verona,' when Speed says, ' Will it be a match ?' Launcelot answers, 'Ask my dog ; if he say “Yes," it will be; if he say "No," it will be; if he shake his tail and say nothing, it will be. Now here on the rug is your own Shako,
, ready to give his opinion, and a very favourable one it evidently is. Good Shako! wise dog! Positively I can do nothing from morning till night now but read advertisements addressed to persons about to marry !»»
Beatrice blushed, smiled, and hastily vanished, while Lord Iona, full of hope, happiness, and gay anticipations, threw himself on horseback, and galloped to the world's end in a ferment of felicity, for which his horse paid the penalty of being thoroughly knocked up, while the animated rider repeated to himself these lines of an old -song :
“I wad do-what wad I not,
Lady Edith had been kept long awake by many interesting thoughts, which were at length forming themselves into pleasing dreams, and vanishing again in a more profound slumber, when she
was aroused to the vague consciousness of some unusual commotion in the house. She sat up to listen, and became certain that there was the scuffling sound of many footsteps passing up and down stairs, the suppressed tone of agitated voices, the hasty opening and shutting of doors—all told a tale of some sudden alarm, and under a dizzying sense of apprehension, Lady Edith hurriedly threw on her dressing-gown. With hasty, yet noiseless steps she then followed the sounds that had awakened her, till she found herself in the Bishop's room, where the servants in speechless grief were gathered around him. The venerable prelate, evidently in the last stage of prostration, was supported up in bed by his own servant, pale with agitation and sorrow ; while M“Ronald was chafing his feet, already cold and insensible. Still his dying eyes beamed with an expression that testified more than words could have done, “Now all is well, and I die in peace!” Though the pallor of death was on his cheek, there appeared the calmness in his whole countenance of a tired child about to sleep. For several minutes he lay, his livid cheek resting on the shoulder of his mournful attendant; but when Sir Allan, pale with grief, hurriedly entered, the aged prelate made an effort that seemed almost supernatural to speak, saying in a tone of mingled humility and confidence, “At last, the hour of my departure is come, my friends. Death is a tremendous necessity. I go, Allan, to that world where error is unknown; it seems to me strange indeed now, long