« VorigeDoorgaan »
Makes him lament, and sigh, and weep, reason to complain of Arabella's father,
being more frequently at Blenheim, saying Stoop to the forward and the bold.
that when he was a youth, the “muckle
deil” himself would not have kept him After a while he succeeded in recover- away from a place where he would have ing bis equanimity, and when the dance been welcomed by“ twa bonnie lassies." was over, he went up and paid his compli. He engaged Clifton to dine with him three ments to Arabella with tolerable assurance. days after, and told him to bring one of But unfortunately the young lady was not his brother officers, that he might begin to in the gracious mood which he had hoped make their acquaintance. for: she was engaged for another dance Among the earliest departures was that to Mr. Spence, and for two after that to of Mr. and Miss Chisholm. Mrs. and another gentleman; so that, for the pres- and Miss Salmon had left them now, and ent, Clifton was thrown out. He felt a rejoined the doctor; and they (the Chislittle
angry and resentful, and seeing Miss holms) had come down to stay the night at Salmon disengaged, he secured her hand a house a short distance from the town. for the next two dances. Flora was gra- Clifton, rather wearied, had gone outside, cious enough, at any rate; and as the and was wandering about a part of the scene was new to both of them, they found verandas which, affording no view of the plenty to talk about. She made amusing ball-room, was free from negroes. From remarks on the queer customs and acci- hence he caught sight of Miss Chisholm dents, and soon raised her partner's spirits in the ante-room attended by a following to a pleasanter level. She did not, how- of young men all eagerly assisting to wrap ever, fail to direct his attention to Arabella her up. He went inside the doorway, inand Mr. Spence, or to repeat the expres- tepding, as he could do no more, to say sion of her belief that they were happy “good-night” as she should pass out, and lovers. Clifton had his own reasons for perhaps to tell her of his engagement to not wholly accepting this view of the case; dine at Blenheim, but not in the least to but he was sufficiently pained and fretted interfere with her present attendants. Inat hearing such remarks; and Flora, con- deed, not to appear to be particularly in. tent with having just suggested the idea, terested, he turned away a little, knowing was too wise to allow herself to be as that she would have to pass him, and could sociated in his mind with disagreeable hardly miss bidding him adieu. While he thoughts, and so became sprightly and stood thus “cooling his heels,” as the MS. entertaining, drawing the young man into has it, he felt a soft hand placed on his free conversation. She had discernment arm, and looking round to the owner of it, to perceive that when the mauvaise honte he was electrified to find it was Miss Chis. was once charmed away, his words were holm's. She had left all her beaux beworth listening to; the sound of them was hind, and come up to him as deliberately infinitely pleasant to her ear.
as if he had been ordered to wait for her. It was late in the evening before the “ I will just step outside until papa is quite ensigo's patience was rewarded by a dance ready,” she said; and then bowing to her with Arabella; but when this was obtained deserted followers, she went on to the there did not come with it the slightest steps. The road was full of carriages and opportunity of pouring out the thoughts of negroes, the latter of whom kept up a stunthich his heart was full. Arabella was as ning jabber, calling up carriages, wrangay and animated as she could be. Her gling, and butting each other with their dress and ornaments, which would have heads. Pausing there a moment in the been in excess for most styles of beauty, bright starlight, and throwing her weight a were not too much for her sultana-like little on Clifton's arm, she said in a clear, bead and figure. Clifton had never seen gentle key, very different from that of the her look so splendid. But he was not the Babel of negroes, and therefore audible to only one who thought her admirable. At him—“You have not seemed happy totentions were offered in profusion from all night; bas anything distressed you? quarters, and the young lady did not seem Taken aback as he had been, and notwithin the least disposed to give herself up to standing that he was much inclined to be any particular admirer. The ball was a on his dignity, the young man did not failure, the young man saw, as regarded waste this opportunity. “ I have been unany clearing up of his prospects with his happy, and disappointed too,” he answered. love. But on the other hand, he had no. "I came here hoping, Miss Chisholm, to
have heard from your lips whether I was a few weeks the life of the latter was an ever to be bappy again or not.”
Elysium. “ From me!" echoed Arabella.
There must be breaks, however, in every if I could make you happy, you may be happiness, and it was a little interruption sure I would do it."
of the current of bliss when Mr. Chisholm “ You would! Oh, if I could only be one day, with a grave face, asked Ensign lieve you meant that seriously!” and he Clifton to give him a few minutes in his took possession of the hand that lay on private room, and began their colloquy his arm, and continued, “ Tell me in ear-with, “ Noo, young sir." The old fellow nest that I may be happy.”
spoke as kindly and sensibly as could be. “Nonsense!” she answered, but in very He said he had observed Clifton's attensoft accents, and with her dark eyes rest- tions to his daughter, as he doubted not ing gently on his face. “There is papa in others had done also, and the time seemed the carriage, and waving his whip for me; to him to have come when either these fre. we must go to him.” As she stepped quent visits must be discontinued, or, if down towards the road a dozen niggers ever renewed at all, renewed on an undersang out,
“ Hei! clear de way dere!” stood footing. Hereupon the young offiBut they simply pushed each other about cer spoke up as eloquently and as heartily without clearing the way at all, until a man as a parent could have desired, and Chiswith a long whip dashed in among them. holm took his hand and wrung it. He did Arabella got safely to the carriage, which not, however, depart from his grave tone; was an open one, built for only two, with but after telling the suitor how entirely hé a flat board across the top supported on had won his esteem, went on to say that so four standards, to keep off the sun. As young a man had no right to make an enshe bade the young man good night, she gagement to marry without the consent of said she hoped he would be happier now; his relations. He (old Sandy) knew the and then taking her seat beside her parent, world, and thought old heads and young away they drove, escorted by two negroes heads might view such matters differently. on mules, and followed by her maids and His “lassie” was not that forlorn or her father's valet or boy on foot, each of homely that she need marry into a family these personal attendants carrying on the where they would look askance at her. And head a bandbox or a trunk. It is uncer- the short and the long of it was that, be. tain how long the ensign stood there in the fore he would allow the matter to proceed roadway looking out his soul after the en- further, the ensign must obtain his father's chanting figure. He roused himself at full consent, keeping away honorably from last, and thought he did feel happy, Arabella until such consent could be proalthough rather stunned. Presently he duced. It was a cruel sentence, but Clifwent back to the rooms, exhibiting a live. ton saw the propriety of it, and said he liness which none had ever seen in him was quite certain his friends would not, before.
could not, object; which Sandy said dryly “What the deuce has come to Clifton ? " that he was glad to hear. After some asked one of his brother officers of an- time Clifton said that if he was to be ban. other.
ished from his beloved he would rather not Slightly inebriated, I should say," re. remain close to her, and that he would try plied Worth, who was the person referred and obtain leave (short as was the time that to.
he had been out) and plead his cause himHe was, but it wasn't with wine or strong self, returning with his credentials. drink.
“ As ye like, sir,” said old Sandy; “but After this the melancholy ceased, and remember, ye'll tell her freens aiverything there was frequent visiting at Blenheim, aboot Bell — the baill truth, ye underthe young man standing fire capitally when stan'.” they rallied him. As for poor Spence, it Clifton readily promised this, thinking was his turn now to feel anxious, and even that he understood the other's meaning, Miss Salmon could hardly persuade him and believing that the more particularly that his chance was still good. Indeed he described “ Bell” and everything con. Miss Salmon herself was much exercised nected with her, the more his family would by what she heard, and began to make exult in his having obtained such a prize ; some very particular inquiries concerning and then with much entreaty he obtained Arabella's 'fortune, and so on - eliciting leave to spend another hour with Ara. answers which rather set her thinking: bella. Sandy Chisholm seemed to take very kind. Unfortunately he did not quite underly to the ensign on acquaintance, and for stand, poor, simple fellow, what old Chis
holm meant; but he was soon to be en- bella, since you appear not to know her lightened. It has been said that Miss origin." Salmon, in her chagrin, made many in. “I know that she is Mr. Chisholm's quiries concerning Arabella ; and she soon daughter," answered he grandly, "and as heard a good deal which she felt certain charming a young woman the ensign did not know, and with which, "Hoity-toity! Mr. Chisholm's daughin her judgment, he ought to be acquaint- ter!” interrupted the not very refined lady. ed. Her chief informant was a middle: “It's Mr. Chisholm's pleasure to ake a aged native * lady, whose daughter had pet of her, and to bring her out in state as married an officer in the regiment; and his bairn,' as he calls her; but folks this lady undertook, at Flora's solicitation, might call her by another name if they "to have a little talk” with Mr. Clifton. weren't afraid of flashing eyes and angry Now that young officer, in order the more looks." effectually to interest tbe adjutant and all “Call her! what dare they call her ?” influential men, ending of course with the shrieked the maddened lad. colonel, in his petition for leave, went to “ They might call her his slave. Heave stay a few days at headquarters, so that ens, don't bite me, but that's the truth ! Mrs. Evitt (that was the matron's name) He might sell her instead of marrying soon found her opportunity. She bade her; for although not very dark, she isn't her son-in-law to bring him to her house white by law — only a quadroon." one evening; and having established her- The young man got to his chamber he self tête-à-tête with him at cribbage, began knew not bow. He was hardly sane. to congratulate bim on the favor with Here was a pretty account with which to which he was received at Blenbeim. He, introduce an intended daughter-in-law to as she expected, treated this as raillery, an old, proud family! He felt in his soul and their game went on swimmingly for a that it was true. Arabella's prohibition of time. At length the lady remarked, “In- all mention of his visit to Higson's Gap, deed, then, you may laugh, Mr. Clifton, but and Mr. Chisholm's hints about the whole there's many a young officer that wouldn't truth, were intelligible enough now.* mind winning Miss Chisholm, spite of all ber drawbacks. She'll have a finer for- Clifton had not to sue for his leave tune than many a young miss that's been the doctors got that as soon as it was safe honestly come by. Hab, there ! one for his to move him ; for he had a violent fever pob!”
a seasoning fever, as knowing people “Mrs. Evitt," answered Clifton, turning called it. But Mrs. Evitt and Miss Salvery red, “I don't understand you. Draw mon knew what kind of seasoning had backs! honestly come by! How can you produced it, — and Miss Salmon also had think of using such expressions in refer- a fever. Sandy Chisholm, and Arabella ence to Miss Chisholm?"
too, came down to see the sick man while “ How can I think? You haven't the fever was running its course, but he scored that five. Why, there's no scan- could recognize no one; and when he was dal, I hope, in alluding to wbat is notori- free of the fever, and hovering between ous. Surely you know very well who life and death, none but a nurse was alArabella's mother is, and that the old lady lowed near him: and he was carried on is to be seep now on one of Mr. Chisholm's board slip in a lammock, with a thick veil estates- - an old mulatto who tells for- over his face.
" You are joking," faltered the ensign, The blow of course fell as the reader turning now from red to pale. Really may expect.
Clifton did not return to you ought not — to - to
Jamaica, but wrote like a good and feeling "Ought, or ought not,” proceeded the young man to Mr. Chisholm, telling him lady, "There's nobody doubts that Mam- that he had, as he had been desired, told my Cis (that's the old crone's name) is everything to his friends, who would not mother to the brilliant Arabella.” “For God's sake, don't trifle with
The selection by one of these old sinners of a with — don't
daughter or of daughters, to be educated as gentle“ Take up your cards, Mr. Clifton, and women, and acknowledged, was by no means uncom
Such a selection involved a complete separation go on.
It's your play. I'm heartily glad from the inother at the time of the daughter proceeding you disclaim all intention towards Ara- to school, if not before. Maternal and filial affections
were generally very mild in such cases, the young
ladies desired to have the relationship forgotten, and • This does not mean a colored lady, but a white the elder ladies philosophically acquiesced in ignoring
hear of the match; that he had never, case. The old man hesitated from shame before leaving Jamaica, opened his lips to to send for a medical man, and the young a soul concerning his proposal; and that lady's negro attendants were of no use to he trusted his short visit there would be him in the circumstances. My, sar! forgotten by most people before the letter something mus' upon her mind," one abhe was writing could come to hand. He igail said; while another one brought her had made his offer with a sincere heart, a piece of lead to bite (and Arabella bit it), believing that he could win over his frie saying, “She will better after she kick to his wishes; but, alas! Mr. Chisholm lilly bit.” No food passed her lips that knew better than he. He implored Ara- day, and she never spoke rationally. bella, whom he still loved as fondly as When she was not in the sullens, she was ever, to forgive and forget him, -and a in such a violent fit as has been described. great deal more betokening honest re- Of course this could not last, and after morse.
some hours Arabella became somewbat Mr. Chisholm, as he had foreseen the calmer ; but she seemed a changed girl. possibility of such an issue as this, bore She was careless of her appearance, wouid the disappointment with equanimity. “I scarcely eat or drink, and lay sobbing and was no mistaken in the laddie,” he said moaning the half of her time. To speak to himself.
“He's been aye honorable of anything, connected with her trouble and true, and there's not a word of hy- was impossible, for it made her rage like poacrisy in a' the letter. I'd have loved a pythoness. Her poor father was almost him weel as a son-in-law, and the connec-out of his wits with alarm, and the negro tion - but there, it's of nae use encourag- servants had a dreadful time of it. One ing idle regraits: what maun be, maun be; of them having imprudently hinted, “ I and there's as gude fish in the sea as ever think missy mus' a crossed love,” was cam oot of it. As for Bell, she'll maybe despatched under escort to the driver, with greet sairly eneugh; but she's young, and an order that she should receive a sound she'll do weel belyve." Shrewd as he was, flogging. Old Sandy watched the course though, the old gentleman miscalculated of her temper; and as soon as he could altogether the effect which this news let her be seen without shame, he entreated would have upon his daughter. He ex- Miss Salmon to come and stay at the pected her to be affected as an English or house, judging_rightly enough that the Scotch girl would have been by such a presence of an English lady, before whom
But he was quite unprepared for she had always appeared as a person of the burst of passion with which Arabella wealth and distinction, would prove a received the communication. She wept greater restraint on her humors than that and sbrieked; then poured out a volume of natives with whom her infancy had of reproaches against Clifton, whom she been familiar, - and Miss Salmon came. said she would spit upon and trample in The old gentleman prepared Flora for the the dust, raging and stamping while she condition in which she would find her thus raved, as if she were literally crush- friend, and hinted that they had received ing her lost lover to pieces; then, ex- disagreeable news concerning some one hausted by her violence, she threw herself in whom they were interested in England. on the floor, weeping bitterly again, and But Flora was very little behind him in calling upon her beloved by every endear. knowledge of what had happened. Where ing name. The variations of her fury con- there are negroes about, nothing can be tinued so long that the old planter was kept very quiet. It was known all over perfectly shocked, and even alarmed, at the neighboring estates, and from them the paroxysms. Reasoning with her was bad passed "a Beea” – that is to say, quite out of the question; but after trying down to Montego Bay - that Arabella in for a long while to coax and soothe her, he a fit of passion had well-nigh lost her reaspoke a little sternly, and tried to touch son; and Flora was not slow to guess her pride. He told her that this was not what it all meant. An old negress on the the behavior of a gentle body, but more estate was very eloquent conceroing the like the savagery of the people on the case : “I is nat supprise, for truth ; doan't estate, who were unable in any circum- me know him modda, hei? dat Cissy de stances to control themselves. This, how- moas' passiony pusson upon de prappety ever, did very little good; and when the before him turn wise woman. Befo' dis girl became more subdued, it was because creecha barn, him hab terrible fits ob she had expended her strength. She then vi'lence. I is nat astanish." turned sullen, lay on the floor, and moaned Whether Arabella cared to see Flora or or threatened. It was a most pitiable not, is doubtful; but she did make an
effort to be more reasonable after her on her hands, rocking herself to and fro. visitor arrived. Yet to Miss Salmon the In fact, she was unconsciously following change in her was very marked. She had the customs of the negroes. When told lost all care about her appearance, and, of her failings in this way, she would for a indeed, seemed to take interest in nothing time endeavor to correct them; but she Her looks were sadly altered, and though soon relapsed. She fancied that she saw she did not always refuse to converse or visions, all indicative of an early death; to join in amusement, she would sit for and the negroes, who either had heard her hours silent or else weeping.
utter words referring to these, or else recMr. Spence, who could hardly fail to ognized in her the symptoms which indiperceive, after the ball at Montego Bay, cate a negro visionary, quite adopted the that Clifton had distanced him, did never- idea that she was in some way doomed. theless make his appearance again at “Where you takin' dat roas'-fowl, PaBlenheim after the ensign sailed for En- tience ?" asked one of Arabella's troupe gland. But he no longer got any encour- of another. agement. Arabella, there is reason to “I is takin' it away fram Miss Bell. believe, had wholly and determinedly given She not goin' eat it." her heart to the young soldier, and was “My ! it smell nice too; and de ham, true in ber affection, not wishing to prac- and de ochra saace look good. She doan't tise hypocrisy or coquetry during her lov- no better, now ?" er's absence. Miss Salmon, however, the “Better ! no; she won't better." first time she encountered Spence, myste- “ You tink she goin' die?” riously hinted that the ground might be “I can't tell, for true. What questions clear now, and urged him to come and try you ax, Iris! How is me to know?" his fortune again; and this probably she “Whisper, Patience. I hear Miss Dinah did partly out of pure good-will to Ara- say she see duppy." bella, whose melancholy might possibly be “Hei! Well, she really look like it." dissipated by the attentions of another “ It bad when duppy come. Life doan't young man more readily than by other sweet noting after dat. You ever see
At the same time, be it remem- duppy?” bered, it was expected that Clifton would “Me! chaw! my king! Me doan't soon rejoin his regiment; and so, if Ara- want for see duppy. Me hope for live bella should accept another lover before long, and be happy wid a sweet nyoung he came, it might be as well for her and buckra dat come court me." for Flora too. Spence, who had declined “Buckra ! chaw ! For you sweetheart further competition only because he be- black Billy de driver. It better dan a fun lieved it to be hopeless, was not unwilling to hear about de buckra." to recommence his suit. He renewed his “Hei! you doan't believe? 'Top and addresses; and being by nature an easy- you will see. Him really charmin'. Him going, cheerful fellow, he was certainly a 'kin fabour_lily. My! how me lub him! desirable guest at that season. The fear But Miss Bell, now; if she grieve, it will was as to how Arabella might receive him, bad. She come of a sad race. Her connected as he was with the memory of granny, ole Frolic, pine away and die." the voyage out and of the chief incidents “ But Mammy Cis no pine away." of the courtship. But she set all minds at “Hush-h-h; no 'peak of Mammy Cis. rest by greeting him with rather more She will kill for me sweet buckra, and gib kindliness than she bad of late been accus- me crooked yeyes.". tomed to accord to any one.
Notwith- “She will a mad 'posin' Miss Bell die." standing this, she did not improve in health “Why she no come and send away de or spirits, but still underwent the fits of debil dat want for kill Miss Bell ?” sullenness and despondency. What to her Here a cook from the kitchen-door friends was more painful still, was her in. shouted " Patience !” and the two young difference to her personal appearance and ladies shouted "Hei!” and separated. to the observances of society. She went Sandy Chisholm, greatly grieved and about with her luxuriant hair tangled and annoyed to see his daughter, of whom he disordered: often she would not be at the was very fond, and in whose beauty and trouble of putting on a dress, but shuffled accomplishments he had taken such pride, along in a dressing-gown, with loose slip- so afflicted, decided that a thorough pers on her feet, and her stockings falling change of air and scene would be the about her ankles; and she might occa- best remedy to make trial of. Although sionally be seen in this garb on a low seat, he could not without great inconvenience with her elbows on her knees and her face I quit the island, he began to make arrange