Page images

they never suffered me to be a moment out of their presence. The behaviour of their father was, however, still unchanged; and his friendship, and the politeness with which he treated me, softened in some degree the misery of my situation.


"FROM being of an open and cheerful temper, I gradually became reserved and silent. One day that Miss Cheslyn was rallying me on the change, with more flippancy than wit or good manners, my spirits were so oppressed by a variety of painful recollections, that I hastily quitted the room, and retired to the garden to indulge those tears that I could not suppress.

"I entered a small temple, where I sometimes sat with my work, and supposing myself wholly unobserved, I gave a loose to the grief and indigna

tion that swelled my heart almost to bursting.

"Absorbed in tears, I did not perceive that any one had entered, till I was roused by the voice of Sir Charles.

"Dearest Miss Dudley (said he), let me beseech you not to suffer the levity. of a thoughtless girl thus to affect your spirits.'

"I hastily dried my eyes, and tried to speak, but I could not articulate, and he continued.

"I have long seen, with regret, that your situation in my family is not a happy one; my daughters are not as sensible as I could wish of your mérits; and even if they were, you are not formed for a life of dependance; how happy should I be in inducing you exchange it for one of freedom and affluence.'


"I gazed at him in silence; for tho' his words were equivocal, I was unwilling to understand them in the light of an insult, or to suppose that a man,

who had repeatedly declared, that he considered me as his daughter, would wish to render me infamous; but he, conceiving, I suppose, that my silence was intended to signify my acquiescence with his wishes, seized my hand, which he pressed to his lips, and thanked me for my condescension in the warmest terms; my reply undeceived him, but it stung his pride, and he was mean enough to reproach me with the obligations I was under to him.

"However numerous they may be, sir (cried I), this behaviour is sufficient to cancel them all; you shall not, however, add to favours which at this moment are sufficiently oppressive to my feelings; I will quit your house as speedily as possible."

"I left him when I had ceased speaking, and returned to the house; I retired to my own apartment to consider how I should dispose of myself. Oh! how wretched is the situation of that. being, who looks round the universe

and sees no soul on whom she has the claim of consanguinity, or the still dearer one of friendship! no heart that beats for her distresses, or pants to relieve them. This forlorn situation was mine; and with a heart almost broken did I apostrophize the spirit of my dear mother, and pray to Heaven that I might speedily join her in those blessed mansions, where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.

"I remained in my own room the rest of the day, and I thought of, and rejected a variety of plans. The next morning I went as usual to preside at the breakfast table, and happening to cast my eyes upon a morning paper, I saw an advertisement from a lady of distinction, who wanted a companion. Dependence upon any one must, I thought, be less irksome than my present situation; and indeed, after what had passed, my pride forbade me to remain in the Cheslyn family. I waited upon Lady Diana Douglas, but at the

« PreviousContinue »