« PreviousContinue »
• Where, prisoners to their gilded thrall,
Vain crowd meets crowd in lighted hall,
And smile, which is itself a lie'
I do not wrong you in this way.”
“ Thank you, Mr. Pultuney—thank you, I am very grateful for your good opinion; but, hark! what noise is that?"
The noise, which proceeded from the space between the pillars of the great room devoted to dancing, was none other than the loud tolling of a bell. The quadrille was just over, and in the centre of the room was congregated a thick crowd of people, all pushing forwards to the spot whence the noise of the bell proceeded; curiosity seemed to be on the tiptoe, and a new excitement was evidently created.
" What can it be?” asked Augusta Sweetenham.
tain," returned Peregrine, with an ill-suppressed smile on his face; “ There, can you see now?"
“ Capital! capital !" cried Augusta. “I declare it's a twopenny postman; he has just given a letter to Miss Singleton, and one to Eliza Dew; pray ask him if he has got one for me."
“ Here, Mr. Postman,” said Peregrine, putting his arm over the shoulders of some gentlemen in front of him, " is there any letter for Miss Sweetenham?"
“Eh!" returned the postman, who was excellently dressed, and so disguised that all the people were asking one another who he could possibly be; “ any letter for Miss Sweetenham; I dare say there be," and he rummaged in his bag ; " but, what is Miss Sweetenham to you? Are you her servant that you ax for her letters ?"
Several people looked at Peregrine, and laughed.
“ Yes,” continued the postman, “ sure enough, here be a letter for · Miss Augusta Sweetenham, Dum Dum post mark, I think.”
“ Give it to me then," said Peregrine.
“ Eh! eh! give it to you? ah, I know your physnomy, I think, you be the chap wot keeps company with Miss Sweetenham, well, take it away."
There was a loud laugh, but Peregrine got the letter, and gave it to Augusta Sweetenham.
“ Why this is your writing, Mr. Pultuney," she said.
“ Indeed !” exclaimed Peregrine.
Augusta opened the envelope, and found it contained two sheets of note-paper. She glanced at one and said, “Oh! thank you for these versesthe long promised verses to set to music—thank you very much, Mr. Pultuney—but what is in the other
“ Read it,” said Peregrine Pultuney, and Augusta read some very pretty love verses (acrostics) which had more truth in them than at first she sup“ Thank you for these too," she said. “ But, tell me, pray, who is the postman?"
" How can I?" asked Peregrine.
“ Oh! you know very well. How else could you have sent me these verses?"
“ I put them in the post," said Peregrine. “ Nonsense; I shall be angry, if you do not tell
“ If I must, then-my friend, Mr. Jenks.'
Showing how Peregrine Pultuney ought to have been ashamed
of himself but was not.
THOUGH the course of true love is said to be one of the roughest, we question whether the course of infidelity does not run a great deal smoother than it ought to do. At least it did with Peregrine Pultuney, who, day after day, week after week, grew happier and happier in the society and friendship of Augusta Sweetenham, and had rarely any thing to disturb his serenity of mind, except an occasional guard day and a monthly letter from Julia Pog. gleton, which was brought by the overland mail, with a regularity very far indeed from what it ought to have been, but nevertheless sufficient to keep our hero in mind of what he would fain have forgotten
-his engagements to his unfortunate cousin, and his delinquency arising therefrom.
We shall not follow Peregrine inch by inch adown the smooth sloping glacis of his infidelity. We shall not show how day by day his once ardent love
for Julia Poggleton waxed fainter and fainter, whilst his friendship-his platonic affection_his brotherly feelings towards the fascinating Augusta increased · in energy every hour, until he became the victim of a guilty passion, which, we are afraid, was not only encouraged, but shared. We have nearly reached the legitimate confines of our history, and are necessitated to generalize rather than to particularize-to draw only a rough outline of what our hero felt and did, and to trust to the imagination of our readers to fill in the necessary details.
We are afraid that this is an old story and one that has been often told. Alas! for humanity that it should be so. Alas! for Peregrine Pultuney that being betrothed to one damsel, he should have fallen in love with another. But poor fellow-how could he help it? He thought that he was quite safe, but was most fatally deceived. They began in friendship, those two young people-trusting to the engagement of one to keep them both from the ap. proaches of all tenderer feeling. They might as well have leant for support on an icicle-or thrown themselves from a precipice on a cobweb, and trusted to it to keep them from injury. They thought that no harm could come of it—were friends first, and then they established a sort of brotherly and sisterly league, and called one another “ brother” and “ sister.” Peregrine proposed it at first with the best intentions in the world—he thought that by thus addressing one another they would be