« VorigeDoorgaan »
like anguish, “ this is our first separation, but I can trust to your faithful affection even when leaving you in this house. Your religion is not like the ivy that cannot stand alone, yet were my words now the last piece of motherly advice your old friend is ever to give, it should be this, ' Adhere to your Bible.'
' Father Eustace started angrily forward with teeth clenched, and contempt blazing in his eye; but Lady Edith firmly met his irritated glance, and then, with an irresistible burst of strong emotion, most unlike her usual calm selfpossession, she clasped Beatrice in her arms and added, in a tone of solemn earnestness, “ Martyrs will abound, Beatrice, where martyrs are required, but how many have died for the difference of faith which divides you from those with whom
you are now to be left! I could myself go to the stake, I could perish in such flames as Father Eustace says I deserve, rather than see you part with a single Protestant principle. May that be your guide, and then, come what may in this world, or in the world to come, we shall meet again. Time is short and life very uncertain, but no mortal can part us for ever. We meet again!”
“ Yes!” exclaimed Beatrice, with a flash of strong determination in her beautiful eyes, “ When you please, Aunt Edith, and where you please, we shall meet again."
Lady Edith and Beatrice remained for several minutes locked in each other's arms. Their feelings were too solemn for tears, too deep for words;
--once more they embraced, and Lady Edith, filled with internal anguish, and not venturing to look up, passed out of the room, leaning on the offered arm of Sir Allan, who conducted her to the carriage, and protested, in a voice, low, tremulous, and broken with agitation, that he would watch over Beatrice,—that he would call soon and often to see Lady Edith herself at Heatherbrae.
Father Eustace and Mr. Ambrose, looking like a couple of lay figures, observed every evidence of natural feeling with strongly marked contempt; but while Sir Allan had listened and observed what passed with an almost convulsive eagerness, the shadowy chain of all his old associations and of all his long-cherished love for Lady Edith and Beatrice, seemed to revive in greater strength if possible than ever.
“Surely my uncle will never be found beside Truth at the bottom of a well,” muttered he to himself; “ Father Eustace, too, sailed very near the wind in all he asserted, but whatever pain it costs his conscience is a sacrifice to benefit the church."
A smile,-a momentary one, passed, like a gleam of light, over Lady Edith's features, as in taking the arm of Sir Allan she observed his emotion; for now a hopefulness, not to be entirely crushed by surrounding circumstances, whispered to her that he might yet be reclaimed, -and her last words to Beatrice at parting, were, “Be happy here, my dear girl, if you can,-it will be my greatest comfort, in our first separation, to believe that you are so.
No doubt can ever occur to my
mind that you will always even here remain faithful and true to your own religion and to your own friend. Yes!
Yes! you will walk safely through all the burning ploughshares of controversy."
Beatrice listened in tears, and felt how difficult it would be to enjoy anything without the kind companion, who, having lost every earthly desire on her own account, yet endeavoured to bestow on her beloved young protegée such happiness as she could never herself enjoy. There is no second spring on earth for the broken in heart.
One moment, and the carriage had drawn to the door of St. Bridget's Chapel, to convey Lady Edith, and in little more than a moment she had been handed into it. Gradually her spirits became more composed, or rather it might be said stupified by exhaustion after the shock she had received, and the sight of external nature again had its usual influence in soothing her agitated spirit. The ancient cedars cast their broad shadows on the grass, and the birds were singing their evening vespers, as Lady Edith proceeded homewards. To her sensitive mind, the simple sounds and common aspects of rural life presented a never-failing charm, and her sympathy with living nature brought a soothing relief from the cares and interests of artificial life. No one admired more the picturesque grandeur of mountain and valley, of the hoary forest, or the wide-spreading ocean; but, to a spirit like Lady Edith's, full of all life's kindest affections, it was the sight of active existence that was interesting. The animals turned
loose in the daisied field to enjoy their liberty, the children at play before their cottage homes, the busy housewife knitting beside her door, even the ravens whirling homeward to their ancient rookery, among the aged beech-trees; and, above all, her own pupils and pensioners at Clanmarina, who rushed to the doors and windows of their dwellings to give her a smiling welcome on returning home “at last;" and a hurrah so loud and discordant that it sounded almost like a chorus for the million.
“ Beautiful!” exclaimed Lady Edith, looking at two long lines of firelight from the setting sun, reflected on sea and sky, till both met on the glowing horizon. " Such is death to a Christian disappearing from this sad earth, but leaving a stream of light and warmth, reaching both to heaven and earth, behind. Alas, for those poor attached villagers! Little do they know how soon and certainly my friendly influence here must end in priestly domination, backed by their own onceloved landlord ! Poor Allan! formerly our pride and hope, now worked up to delirious superstition, and ever, as of old, so ready to sacrifice himself, that the priests would consider themselves committing a foolish crime not to fleece so willing a victim of his last farthing !”
“Did any one that he was happy say,
BEATRICE, according to Lady Edith's advice, resolved to be amused and happy, while joining in all the diversions at Eaglescairn, during this forced absence from her own quiet home. The pompously magnificent style continued long a subject of wonder and a source of ennui to her unaccustomed mind; but she never tired of contemplating the fine old pictures, among which was one by Gainsborough, universally thought to bear an almost miraculous resemblance to herself. It was the beautiful wife of the previous Lord Eaglescairn, in all the pride of youth and beauty, but so startlingly like Beatrice that Lord Iona declared he could hardly tear himself away from admiring it. “ She must have been your grandmother without knowing it!” he said one morning, after looking first at the portrait and then at Beatrice. “Do you not feel as if looking in a mirror when that picture catches your eye?"
Yes; if I had ever worn a court-dress like that