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The Black Baronet; or, The Chronicles Of Ballytrain, a novel by William Carleton

Chapter 22. Lucy At Summerfield Cottage

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_ CHAPTER XXII. Lucy at Summerfield Cottage

On his way to the inn, the stranger could not avoid admiring the excellent sense and prudence displayed by Lucy Gourlay, in the brief dialogue which we have already detailed to our readers. He felt clearly, that if he had followed up his natural impulse to ascertain the place of her retreat, he would have placed himself in the very position which, knowing her father as she did, she had so correctly anticipated. In the meantime, now that the difficulty in this respect, which she had apprehended, was over, his anxiety to know her present residence returned upon him with full force. Not that he thought it consistent with delicacy to intrude himself upon her presence, without first obtaining her permission to that effect. He was well and painfully aware that a lying report of their elopement had gone abroad, but as he did not then know that this calumny had been principally circulated by unfortunate Crackenfudge, who, however, was the dupe of Dandy Dulcimer, and consequently took the fact for granted.

Lucy, however, to whom we must now return, on arriving at the neat cottage already alluded to, occasioned no small surprise to its proprietor. The family, when the driver knocked, were all asleep, or at least had not arisen, and on the door being opened by a broad-faced, good-humored looking servant, who was desired to go to a lady in the chaise, the woman, after rubbing her eyes and yawning, looked about her as if she were in a dream, exclaiming, "Lord bless us! and divil a sowl o' them out o' the blankets yet!"

"You're nearly asleep," said the driver; "but I'll hould a testher that a tight crapper Would soon brighten your eye. Come, come," he added, as she yawned again, "shut your pittaty trap, and go to the young lady in the chaise."

The woman settled her cap, which was awry, upon her head, by plucking it quickly over to the opposite side, and hastily tying the strings of her apron, so as to give herself something of a tidy look, she proceeded, barefooted, but in slippers, to the chaise.

"Will you have the kindness," said Lucy, in a very sweet voice, "to say to Mrs. Norton that a young friend of hers wishes to see her."

"And tell her to skip," added Alley Mahon, "and not keep us here all the blessed mornin'."

"Mrs. Norton!" exclaimed the woman; "I don't know any sich parson as that, Miss."

"Why," said Lucy, putting her head out of the chaise, and re-examining the cottage, "surely this is where my friend Mrs. Norton did live, certainly. She must have changed her residence, Alley. This is most unfortunate!--What are we to do? I know not where to go."

"Whisht! Miss," said Alley, "we'll put her through her catechiz again. Come here, my good woman; come forrid; don't be ashamed or afeard in the presence of ladies. Who does live here?"

"Mr. Mainwarin'," replied the servant, omitting the "Miss," notwithstanding that Alley had put in her claim for it by using the plural number.

"This is distressing--most unfortunate!" exclaimed Lucy; "how long has this gentleman--Mr.--Mr.------"

"Mainwarin', Miss," added the woman, respectfully.

"She's a stupid lookin' sthreel, at all events," said Alley, half to herself and half to her mistress.

"Yes, Mainwaring," continued Lucy; "how long has he been living here?"

"Troth, and that's more than I can tell you, Miss," replied the woman; "I'm from the county Wexford myself, and isn't more than a month here."

Whilst this little dialogue went on, or rather, we should say, after it was concluded, a tapping was heard at one of the windows, and a signal given with the finger for the servant to return to the house. She did so; but soon presented herself a second time at the chaise door with more agreeable intelligence.

"You're right, Miss," said she; "the mistress desired me to ask you in; she seen you from the windy, and desired me to bring your things too; you're to come in, then, Miss, you, an' the sarvint that's along wid you."

On entering, an intelligent, respectable-looking female, of lady-like manners, shook hands with and even kissed Lucy, who embraced her with much affection.

"My dear Mrs. Norton," she said, "how much surprised you must feel at this abrupt and unseasonable visit."

"How much delighted, you mean, my dear Miss Gourlay; and if I am surprised, I assure you the surprise is an agreeable one."

"But," said the innocent girl, "your servant told me that you did not live here, and I felt so much distressed!"

"Well," replied Mrs. Norton, "she was right, in one sense: if Mrs. Norton that was does not live here, Mrs. Mainwaring that is certainly does--and feels both proud and flattered at the honor Miss Gourlay does her humble residence."

"How is this?" said Lucy, smiling; "you have then--"

"Yes, indeed, I have changed my condition, as the phrase goes; but neither my heart nor my affections to you, Miss Gourlay. Pray sit down on this sofa. Your maid, I presume, Miss Gourlay?"

"Yes," replied Lucy; "and a faithful creature has she proved to me, Mrs. Nor--" but I beg your pardon, my dear madam; how am I--oh, yes, Mrs. Mainwaring!"

"Nancy," said the latter, "take this young woman with you, and make her comfortable. You seem exhausted. Miss Gourlay; shall I get some tea?"

"Thank you, Mrs. Nor--Mainwaring, no; we have had a hasty cup of tea in Dublin. But if it will not be troublesome, I should like to go to bed for a time."

Mrs. Mainwaring flew out of the room, and called Nancy Gallaher. "Nancy, prepare a bed immediately for this lady; her maid, too, will probably require rest. Prepare a bed for both."

She was half in and half out of the room as she spoke; then returning with a bunch of keys dangling from her finger, she glanced at Miss Gourlay with that slight but delicate and considerate curiosity which arises only from a friendly warmth of feeling--but said nothing.

"My dear Mrs. Mainwaring," said Lucy, who understood her look, "I feel that I have acted very wrong. I have fled from my father's house, and I have taken refuge with you. I am at present confused and exhausted, but when I get some rest, I will give you an explanation. At present, it is sufficient to say that papa has taken my marriage with that odious Lord Dunroe so strongly into his head, that nothing short of my consent will satisfy him. I know he loves me, and thinks that rank and honor, because they gratify his ambition, will make me happy. I know that that ambition is not at all personal to himself, but indulged in and nurtured on my account, and for my advancement in life. How then can I blame him?"

"Well, my child, no more of that at present; you want rest."

"Yes, Mrs. Mainwaring, I do; but I am very wretched and unhappy. Alas! you know not, my dear friend, the delight which I have always experienced in obeying papa in everything, with the exception of this hateful union; and now I feel something like remorse at having abandoned him."

She then gave a brief account to her kind-hearted friend of her journey to Dublin by the "Fly," in the first instance, suppressing one or two incidents; and of her second to Mrs. Mainwaring's, who, after hearing that she had not slept at all during the night, would permit no further conversation on that or any other subject, but hurried her to bed, she herself acting as her attendant. Having seen her comfortably settled, and carefully tucked her up with her own hands, she kissed the fair girl, exclaiming, "Sleep, my love; and may God bless and protect you from evil and unhappiness, as I feel certain He will, because you deserve it."

She then left her to sepose, and in a few minutes Lucy was fast asleep.

Whilst this little dialogue between Lucy and Mrs. Mainwaring was proceeding in the parlor of Summerfield cottage, another was running parallel with it between the two servants in the kitchen.

"God bless me," said Nancy Gallaher, addressing Alley, "you look shockin' bad afther so early a journey! I'll get you a cup o' tay, to put a bloom in your cheek."

"Thank you, kindly, ma'am," replied Alley, with a toss of her head which implied anything but gratitude for this allusion to her complexion: "a good sleep, ma'am, will bring back the bloom--and that's aisy done, ma'am, to any one who has youth on their side. The color will come and go then, but let a wrinkle alone for keepin' its ground."

This was accompanied by a significant glance at Nancy's face, on which were legible some rather unequivocal traces of that description. Honest Nancy, however, although she saw the glance, and understood the insinuation, seemed to take no notice of either--the fact being that her whole spirit was seized with an indomitable curiosity, which, like a restless familiar, insisted on being gratified.

In the case of those who undertake journeys similar to that which Lucy had just accomplished, there may be noticed almost by every eye those evidences of haste, alarm, and anxiety, and even distress, which to a certain extent at least tell their own tale, and betray to the observer that all can scarcely be right. Now Nancy Gallaher saw this, and having drawn the established conclusion that there must in some way be a lover in the case, she sat down in form before the fortress of Alley Mahon's secret, with a firm determination to make herself mistress of it, if the feat were at all practicable. In Alley, however, she had an able general to compete with--a general who resolved, on the other hand, to make a sortie, as it were, and attack Nancy by a series of bold and unexpected manoeuvres.

Nancy, on her part, having felt her first error touching Alley's complexion, resolved instantly to repair it by the substitution of a compliment in its stead.

"Throth, an' it'll be many a day till there's a wrinkle in your face, avourneen--an' now that I look at you agin--a pretty an' a sweet face it is. 'Deed it's many a day since I seen two sich faces as yours and the other young lady's; but anyway, you had betther let me get you a comfortable cup o' tay--afther your long journey. Oh, then, but that beautiful creature has a sorrowful look, poor thing."

These words were accompanied by a most insinuating glance of curiosity, mingled up with an air of strong benevolence, to show Alley that it proceeded only from the purest of good feeling. "Thank you," replied Alley, "I will take a cup sure enough. What family have you here? if it's a fair question."

"Sorra one but ourselves," replied Nancy, without making her much the wiser.

"But, I mane," proceeded Alley, "have you children? bekase if you have I hate them."

"Neither chick nor child there will be under the roof wid you here," responded Nancy, whilst putting the dry tea into a tin tea-pot that had seen service; "there's only the three of us--that is, myself, the misthress, and the masther--for I am not countin' a slip of a girl that comes in every day to do odd jobs, and some o' the rough work about the house."

"Oh, I suppose," said Alley, indifferently, "the childre's all married off?"

"There's only one," replied Nancy; "and indeed you're right enough--she is married, and not long either--and, in truth, I don't envy her the husband, she got. Lord save and guard us! I know I wouldn't long keep my senses if I had him."

"Why so?" asked Alley. "Has he two heads upon him?"

"Troth, no," replied the other; "but he's what they call a mad docther, an' keeps a rheumatic asylum--that manes a place where they put mad people, to prevent them from doin' harm. They say it would make the hair stand on your head like nettles even to go into it. However, that's not what I'm thinkin' of, but that darlin' lookin' creature that's wid the misthress. The Lord keep sorrow and cross-fortune from her, poor thing--for she looks unhappy. Avillish! are you and she related? for, as I'm a sinner, there's a resemblance in your faces--and even in your figures--only you're something rounder and fuller than she is."

"Isn't she lovely?" returned Alley, making the most of the compliment. "Sure, wasn't it in Dublin her health was drunk as the greatest toast in Ireland." She then added after a pause, "The Lord knows I wouldn't--"

"Wouldn't what--avourneen?"

"I was just thinkin', that I wouldn't marry a mad docther, if there was ne'er another man in Ireland. A mad docther! Oh, beetha. Then will you let us know the name that's upon him?" she added in a most wheedling tone.

"His name is Scareman, my misthress tells me--he's related by the mother's side to the Moontides of Ballycrazy, in the barony of Quarther Clift--arrah, what's this your name is, avourneen?"

"Alley Mahon I was christened," replied her new friend; "but," she added, with an air of modest dignity that was inimitable in its way--"in regard of my place as maid of honor to Lady Lucy, I'm usually called Miss Mahon, or Miss Alley. My mistress, for her own sake, in ordher to keep up her consequence, you persave, doesn't like to hear me called anything else than either one or t'other of them."

"And it's all right," replied the other. "Well, as I was going to say, that Mrs. Mainwaring is breakin' her heart about this unforthunate marriage of her daughter to Scareman. It seems--but this is between ourselves--it seems, my dear, that he's a dark, hard-hearted scrub, that 'id go to hell or farther for a shillin', for a penny, ay, or for a farden. An' the servant that was here afore me--a clean, good-natured girl she was, in throth--an' got married to a blacksmith, at the cross-roads beyant--tould me that the scrames, an' yells, an' howlins, and roarins--the cursin' and blasphaymin'--an' the laughin', that she said was worse than all--an' the rattlin' of chains--the Lord save us--would make one think themselves more in hell than in any place upon this world. And it appears the villain takes delight in it, an' makes lashins of money by the trade."

"The sorra give him good of it!" exclaimed Alley; "an' I can tell you, it's Lady Lucy--(divil may care, thought she--I'll make a lady of her at any rate--this ignorant creature doesn't know the differ) it's Lady Lucy, I say, that will be sorry to hear of this same marriage--for you must know--what's this your name is?"

"Nancy Gallaher, dear."

"And were you ever married, Nancy?"

"If I wasn't the fau't was my own, ahagur! but I'll tell you more about that some day. No, then, I was not, thank God!"

"Thank God! Well, throth, it's a quare thing to thank God for that, at any rate." This, of course, was parenthetical. "Well, my dear," proceeded Alley, "you must know that Mrs. Scareman before her marriage--of course, she was then Miss Norton--acted in the kippacity of tutherer general to Lady Lucy, except durin' three months that she was ill, and had to go to England to thry the wathers."

"What wathers?" asked Nancy. "Haven't we plenty o' wather, an' as good as they have, at home?"

"Not at all," replied Alley, who sometimes, as the reader may have perceived, drew upon an imagination of no ordinary fertility; "in England they have spakin' birds, singin' trees, and goolden wather. So, as I was sayin', while she went to thry the goolden wather------"

"Troth, if ever I get poor health, I'll go there myself," observed Nancy, with a gleam of natural humor in her clear blue eye."

"Well, while she went to thry this goolden watlier, her mother, Mrs. Norton, came in her place as tutherer general, an' that's the way they became acquainted--Lady Lucy and her. But, my dear, I want to tell you a saicret."

We are of opinion, that if Nancy's cap had been off at the moment, her two ears might have been observed to erect themselves on each side of her head with pure and unadulterated curiosity.

"Well, Miss Alley, what is it, ahagur?"

"Now, you won't breathe this to any human creature?"

"Is it me? Arrah! little you know the woman you're spakin' to. Divil a mortal could beat me at keepin' a saicret, at any rate; an' when you tell me this, maybe I'll let you know one or two that'll be worth hearin'."

"Well," continued Alley, "it's this--Never call my mistress Lady Lucy, because she doesn't like it."

This was an apple from the shores of the Dead Sea. Nancy's face bore all the sudden traces of disappointment and mortification; and, from a principle of retaliation, she resolved to give her companion a morsel from the same fruit.

"Now, Nancy," continued the former, "what's this you have to tell us?"

"But you swear not to breathe it to man, woman, or child, boy or girl, rich or poor, livin' or dead?"

"Sartainly I do."

"Well, then, it's this. I understand that Docthor Scareman isn't likely to have a family. Now, ahagur, if you spake, I'm done, that's all."

Having been then called away to make arrangements necessary to Lucy's. comfort, their dialogue was terminated before she could worm out of Alley the cause of her mistress's visit.

"She's a cunnin' ould hag," said the latter, when the other had gone. "I see what she wants to get out o' me; but it's not for nothing Miss Lucy has trusted me, an' I'm not the girl to betray her secrets to them that has no right to know them."

This, indeed, was true. Poor Alley Mahon, though a very neat and handsome girl, and of an appearance decidedly respectable, was nevertheless a good deal vulgar in her conversation. In lieu of this, however, notwithstanding a large stock of vanity, she was gifted with a strong attachment to her mistress, and had exhibited many trying proofs of truthfulness and secrecy under circumstances where most females in her condition of life would have given way. As a matter of course, she was obliged to receive her master's bribes, otherwise she would have been instantly dismissed, as one who presumed to favor Lucy's interest and oppose his own. Her fertility of fancy, however, joined to deep-rooted affection for his daughter, enabled her to return as a recompense for Sir Thomas's bribes, that description of one-sided truth which transfuses fiction into its own character and spirit, just as a drop or two of any coloring fluid will tinge a large portion of water with its own hue. Her replies, therefore, when sifted and examined, always bore in them a sufficient portion of truth to enable her, on the strong point of veracity on which she boldly stood, to bear herself out with triumph; owing, indeed, to a slight dash in her defence of the coloring we have described. Lucy felt that the agitation of mind, or rather, we should say, the agony of spirit which she had been of late forced to struggle with, had affected her health more than she could have anticipated. That and the unusual fatigue of a long journey in a night coach, eked out by a jolting drive to Wicklow at a time when she required refreshment and rest, told upon her constitution, although a naturally healthy one. For the next three or four days after her arrival at Summerfield Cottage, she experienced symptoms of slight fever, apparently nervous. Every attention that could be paid to her she received at the hands of Mrs. Mainwaring, and her own maid, who seldom was a moment from her bedside. Two or three times a day she was seized with fits of moping, during which she deplored her melancholy lot in life, feared she had offended her kind hostess by intruding, without either notice or announcement, upon the quiet harmony of her family, and begged her again and again to forgive her; adding, "That as soon as her recovery should be established, she would return to her father's house to die, she hoped, and join mamma; and this," she said, "was her last and only consolation."

Mrs. Mainwaring saw at once that her complaint was principally on the nerves, and lost no time in asking permission to call in medical advice. To this, Lucy, whose chief object was to remain unknown and in secrecy for the present, strongly objected; but by the mild and affectionate remonstrances of Mrs. Mainwaring, as well as at the earnest entreaties of Alley, she consented to allow a physician to be called in.

This step was not more judicious than necessary. The physician, on seeing her, at once pronounced the complaint a nervous fever, but hoped that it would soon yield to proper treatment. He prescribed, and saw her every second day for a week, after which she gave evident symptoms of improvement. Her constitution, as we have said, was good; and nature, in spite of an anxious mind and disagreeable reflections, bore her completely out of danger.

It was not until the first day of her appearance in the parlor subsequent to her illness, that she had an opportunity of seeing Mr. Mainwaring, of whom his wife spoke in terms of great tenderness and affection. She found him to be a gentlemanly person of great good sense and delicacy of feeling.

"I regret," said he, after the usual introduction had taken place, "to have been deprived so long of knowing a young lady of whose goodness and many admirable qualities I have heard so much from the lips of Mrs. Mainwaring. It is true I knew her affectionate nature," he added, with a look of more than kindness at his wife, "and I allowed something for high coloring in your case, Miss Gourlay, as well as in others, that I could name; but I now find, that with all her good-will, she sometimes fails to do justice to the original."

"And, my dear John, did I not tell you so?" replied his wife, smiling; "but if you make other allusions, I am sure Miss Gourlay can bear me out."

"She has more than borne you out, my dear," he replied, purposely misunderstanding her. "She has more than borne you out; for, truth to tell, you have in Miss Gourlay's case fallen far short of what I see she is."

"But, Mr. Mainwaring," said Lucy, smiling in her turn, "it is certainly very strange that she can please neither of us. The outline she gave me of your character was quite shocking. She said you were--what's this you said of him, Mrs. Mainwaring--oh, it was very bad, sir. I think we must deprive her of all claim to the character of an artist. Do you know I was afraid to meet the original, in consequence of the gloomy colors in which she sketched what she intended, I suppose, should be the likeness."

"Well, my dear Miss Gourlay," observed Mrs. Mainwaring, "now that I have failed in doing justice to the portraits of two of my dearest friends, I think I will burn my palette and brushes, and give up portrait painting in future."

Mr. Mainwaring now rose up to take his usual stroll, but turning to Lucy before he went, he said,

"At all events, my dear Miss Gourlay, what between her painting and the worth of the original, permit me to say that this house is your home just as long as you wish. Consider Mrs. Mainwaring and me as parents to you; willing, nay, most anxious, in every sense, to contribute to your comfort and happiness. We are not poor, Miss Gourlay; but, on the contrary, both independent and wealthy. You must, therefore, want for nothing. I am, for as long as may be necessary, your parent, as I said, and your banker; and if you will permit me the honor, I would wish to add, your friend. Good-by, my dear child, I am going to take my daily ramble; but I am sure you are in safe hands when I leave you in my dear Martha's. Good-by, my love."

The amiable man took his golden-headed cane, and sauntered out to amuse himself among the fields, occasionally going into the town of Wicklow, taking a glance at the papers in the hotel, to which he generally added a glass of ale and a pipe.

It was not until he had left them that Lucy enjoyed an opportunity of pouring out, at full length, to her delicate-minded and faithful friend, the cause of her flight from home. This narrative, however, was an honorable proof of the considerate forbearance she evinced when, necessarily alluding to the character and conduct of her father. Were it not, in fact, that Mrs. Mainwaring had from personal opportunity been enabled to thoroughly understand the temper, feelings, and principles of the worthy baronet, she would have naturally concluded that Lucy was a disobedient girl, and her father a man who had committed no other error than that of miscalculating her happiness from motives of excessive affection.

Mrs. Mainwaring heard it all with a calm and matronly benignity that soothed poor Lucy; for it was for the first time she had ever disclosed the actual state of her feelings to any one, with the exception of her late mother.

"Now, my dear Miss Gourlay--"

"Call me Lucy, Mrs. Mainwaring," said the affectionate girl, wiping her eyes, for we need not assure our readers that the recital of her sufferings, no matter how much softened down or modified, cost her many a bitter tear.

"I will indeed, my love, I will, Lucy," she replied, kissing her cheek, "if it gratifies you. Why should I not? But you know the distance there is between us."

"Oh, no, my dear Mrs. Mainwaring, no. What are the cold forms of the world but disguises and masks, under which the hardened and heartless put themselves in a position of false eminence over the humble and the good. The good are all equal over the earth, no matter what their relative situations may be; and on this account, not-withstanding my rank, I am scarcely worthy to sit at your feet."

Mrs. Mainwaring, with a kind of affectionate enthusiasm, put her hand upon the beautiful girl's hand, and was about to speak; but she paused for more than half a minute, during which space her serene and benevolent face assumed an expression of profound thought and seriousness. At length she sighed rather deeply, and said,

"My dear Lucy, it is too bad that the happiness of such a girl as you should be wrecked; but, worst of all, that it should be wrecked upon a most unprincipled profligate. You know the humbleness of my birth; the daughter of a decent farmer, who felt it a duty to give his children the only boon, except his blessing, that he had to bestow upon them--a good education. Well, my dear child, I beg that you will not be disheartened, nor suffer your spirits to droop. You will look surprised when I tell you that I think it more than probable, if I am capable of judging your father's heart aright, that I shall be able by a short interview with him to change the whole current of his ambition, and to bring about such a revulsion of feeling against Lord Dunroe, as may prevent him from consenting to your union with that nobleman under any circumstances. Nay, not to stop here; but that I shall cause him to look upon the breaking up of this contemplated marriage as one of the greatest blessings that could befall his family."

"Such an event might be possible," replied Lucy, "were I not unfortunately satisfied that papa is already aware of Dunroe's loose habits of life, which he views only as the giddiness of a young and buoyant spirit that marriage would reform. He says Dunroe is only sowing his wild oats, as, with false indulgence, he is pleased to term it. Under these circumstances, then, I fear he would meet you with the same arguments, and as they satisfy himself so you will find him cling to the dangerous theory they establish."

"But, Lucy, my dear child, you are quite mistaken in your estimate of the arguments which I should use, because you neither can know nor suspect their import. They apply not at all to Lord Dunroe's morals, I assure you. It is enough to say, at present, that I am not at liberty to disclose them; and, indeed, I never intended to do so; but as a knowledge of the secret I possess may not only promote your happiness, but relieve you from the persecution and misery you endure on this young nobleman's account, I think it becomes my duty to have an interview with your father on the subject."

"Before you do so, my dear madam," replied Lucy, "it is necessary that I should put you in possession of--of--" there was here a hesitation, and a blush, and a confusion of manner, that made Mrs. Mainwaring look at her with some attention.

"Take care, Lucy," she said smiling; "a previous engagement, I'll warrant me. I see you blush."

"But not for its object, Mrs. Mainwaring," she replied. "However, you are right; and papa is aware of it."

"I see, Lucy; and on that account he wishes to hurry on this hated marriage--?"

"I think so."

"And what peculiar dislike has papa against the object of your choice?--are you aware?"

"The same he would entertain against any choice but his own--his great ambition. The toil and labor of all his thoughts, hopes, and calculations, is to see me a countess before he dies. I know not whether to consider this as affection moved by the ambition of life, or ambition stimulated by affection."

"Ah, my dear Lucy, I fear very much that if your papa's heart were analyzed it would be found that he is more anxious to gratify his own ambition than to promote your happiness, and that, consequently, his interest in the matter altogether absorbs yours. But we need not discuss this now. You say he is aware of your attachment?"

"He is; I myself confessed it to him."

"Is he aware of the name and condition in life of your lover?"

"Alas, no! Mrs. Mainwaring. He has seen him, but that is all. He expressed, however, a fierce and ungovernable curiosity to know who and what he is; but, unfortunately, my lover, as you call him, is so peculiarly circumstanced, that I could not disclose either the one or the other."

"But, my dear Lucy, is not this secrecy, this clandestime conduct, on the part of your lover, wrong? Ought you, on the other hand, to entertain an attachment for any person who feels either afraid or ashamed to avow his name and rank? Pardon me, my love."

Lucy rose up, and Mrs. Mainwaring felt somewhat alarmed at the length she had gone, especially on observing that the lovely girl's face and neck were overspread with a deep and burning blush.

"Pardon you, my dear madam! Is it for uttering sentiments worthy of the purest friendship and affection, and such only as I would expect to proceed from your lips? But it is necessary to state, in my own defence, that beloved mamma was aware of, and sanctioned our attachment. A mystery there is, unquestionably, about my lover; but it is one with which she was acquainted, for she told me so. It is not, however, upon this mystery or that mystery--but upon the truth, honor, delicacy, disinterestedness, of him to whom I have yielded my heart, that I speak. In true, pure, and exalted love, my dear Mrs. Mainwaring, there is an intuition of the heart which enables the soul to see into and comprehend its object, with a completeness of success as certain and effectual as the mission of an angel. When such love exists--and such only--all is soon known--the spirit is satisfied; and, except those lessons of happiness and delight that are before it, the heart, on that subject, has nothing more to learn. This, then, is my reply; and as for the mystery I speak of, every day is bringing us nearer and nearer to its disclosure, and the knowledge of his worth."

Mrs. Mainwaring looked, on with wonder. Lucy's beauty seemed to brighten, as it were with a divine light, as she uttered these glowing words. In fact, she appeared to undergo a transfiguration from the mortal state to the angelic, and exemplified, in her own person--now radiant with the highest and holiest enthusiasm of love--all that divine purity, all that noble pride and heroic devotedness of heart, by which it is actuated and inspired. Her eyes, as she proceeded, filled with tears, and on concluding, she threw herself, weeping, into her friend's arms, exclaiming,

"Alas! my dear, dear Mrs. Mainwaring, I am not worthy of him."

Mrs. Mainwaring kissed, and cherished, and soothed her, and in a short time she recovered herself, and resumed an aspect of her usual calm, dignified, yet graceful beauty.

"Alas!" thought her friend, as she looked on her with mingled compassion and admiration, "this love is either for happiness or death. I now see, after all, that there is much of the father's character stamped into her spirit, and that the same energy with which he pursues ambition actuates his daughter in love. Each will have its object, or die."

"Well, my love," she exclaimed aloud, "I am sorry we permitted our conversation to take such a turn, or to carry us so far. You are, I fear, not yet strong enough for anything calculated to affect or agitate you."

"The introduction of it was necessary, my dear madam," replied Lucy; "for I need not say that it was my object to mention the subject of our attachment to you before the close of our conversation."

"Well, at all events," replied Mrs. Mainwaring, "we shall go and have a walk through the fields. The sun is bright and warm; the little burn below, and the thousand larks above, will give us their melody; and Cracton's park--our own little three-cornered paddock--will present us with one of the sweetest objects in the humble landscape--a green field almost white with daisies--pardon the little blunder, Lucy--thus constituting it a poem for the heart, written by the hand of nature herself."

Lucy, who enjoyed natural scenery with the high enthusiasm that was peculiar to her character, was delighted at the proposal, and in a few minutes both the ladies sauntered out through the orchard, which was now white and fragrant with blossoms.

As they went along, Mrs. Mainwaring began to mention some particulars of her marriage; a circumstance to which, owing to Lucy's illness, she had not until then had an opportunity of adverting.

"The truth is, my dear Lucy," she proceeded, "I am naturally averse to lead what is termed a solitary life in the world. I wish to have a friend on whom I can occasionally rest, as upon a support. You know that I kept a boarding-school in the metropolis for many years after my return from the Continent. That I was successful and saved some money are facts which, perhaps, you don't know. Loss of health, however, caused me to resign the establishment to Emily, your former governess; but, unfortunately, her health, like mine, gave way under the severity of its duties. She accordingly disposed of it, and accepted the important task of superintending the general course of your education, aided by all the necessary and usual masters. To this, as you are aware, she applied herself with an assiduity that was beyond her yet infirm state of health. She went to Cheltenham, where she recovered strength, and I undertook her duties until her return. I then sought out for some quiet, pretty, secluded spot, where I could, upon the fruits of my own industry, enjoy innocently and peacefully the decline of, I trust, a not unuseful life. Fortunately, I found our present abode, which I purchased, and which has been occasionally honored by your presence, as well as by that of your beloved mamma. Several years passed, and the widow was not unhappy; for my daughter, at my solicitation, gave up her profession as a governess, and came to reside with me. In the meantime, we happened to meet at the same party two individuals--gentlemen--who had subsequently the honor of carrying off the mother and daughter with flying colors. The one was Dr. Scareman, to whom Emily--my dear, unfortunate girl, had the misfortune to get married. He was a dark-faced, but handsome man--that is to say, he could bear a first glance or two, but was incapable of standing anything like a close scrutiny. He passed as a physician in good practice, but as the marriage was--what no marriage ought to be--a hasty one--we did not discover, until too late, that the practice he boasted of consisted principally in the management of a mad-house. He is, I am sorry to say, both cruel and penurious--at once a miser and a tyrant--and if his conduct to my child is not kinder and more generous, I shall feel it my duty to bring her home to myself, where, at all events, she can calculate upon peace and affection. The doctor saw that Emily was beautiful--knew that she had money--and accordingly hurried on the ceremony.

"Such is the history of poor Emily's marriage. Now for my own.

"Mr. Main waring was, like myself, a person who had been engaged in educating the young. For many years he had conducted, with great success, a boarding-school that soon became eminent for the number of brilliant and accomplished men whom it sent into society and the institutions of the country. Like me, he had saved money--like me he lost his health, and like me his destiny conducted him to this neighborhood. We met several times, and looked at each other with a good deal of curiosity; he anxious to know what kind of animal an old schoolmistress was, and I to ascertain with what tribe an old school-master should be classed. There was something odd, if not comical, in this scrutiny; and the best of it all was, that the more closely we inspected and investigated, the more accurately did we discover that we were counterparts--as exact as the two sides of a tally, or the teeth of a rat-trap--with pardon to dear Mr. Mainwaring for the nasty comparison, whatever may have put it into my head. He, in fact, was an old school-master and a widower; I an old school-mistress and a widow; he wanted a friend and companion, so did I. Each finding that the other led a solitary life, and only required that solace and agreeable society, which a kind and rational companion can most assuredly bestow, resolved to take the other, as the good old phrase goes, for better for worse; and accordingly here we are, thank God, with no care but that which proceeds from the unfortunate mistake which poor Emily made in her marriage. The spirit that cemented our hearts was friendship, not love; but the holiness of marriage has consecrated that friendship into affection, which the sweet intercourse of domestic life has softened into something still more agreeable and tender. My girl's marriage, my dear Lucy, is the only painful thought that throws its shadow across our happiness."

"Poor Emily," sighed Lucy, "how little did that calm, sweet-tempered, and patient girl deserve to meet such a husband. But perhaps he may yet improve. If gentleness and affection can soften a heart by time and perseverance, his may yet become human."

Such was the simple history of this amiable couple, who, although enjoying as much happiness as is usually allotted to man and woman, were not, however, free from those characteristic traces that enabled their friends to recognize without much difficulty the previous habits of their lives.

"Mrs. Mainwaring," said Lucy, "I must write to my father, I cannot bear to think of the anguish he will feel at my sudden and mysterious disappearance. It will set him distracted, perhaps cause illness."

"Until now, my dear child, you know you had neither time, nor health, nor strength to do so; but I agree with you, and think without doubt you ought to make his mind as easy upon this point as possible. At the same time I do not see that it is necessary for you to give a clew to your present residence. Perhaps it would be better that I should see him before you think of returning; but of that we will speak in the course of the evening, or during to-morrow, when we shall have a little more time to consider the matter properly, and determine what may be the best steps to take." _

Read next: Chapter 23. A Lunch In Summerfield Cottage

Read previous: Chapter 21. A Spy Rewarded

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