Page images
PDF
EPUB

mere, tenderly embracing her. “May place to the shades of evening, when heaven enable me to supply to you the

she arose. place of the dear parent you have lost. She found Grace and her faithful But you are weary, Isabella will con- Oscar waiting her in the anti-room. duct you to your own apartments, and Everything was arranged in its you shall rest, before you join us usual order, and the air of tranquillity again.”

that pervaded the quiet room, insensiBy a powerful effort, Constance re- bly communicated itself to the feelings pressed her emotion, and pressing for of Constance. a moment to her lips the kind hand that As soon as her toilet was completed, she held, she accepted the offered sup- she descended to the drawing-room. port of Mrs Bouverie, and, followed by The party which she had left there, Oscar, left the room.

was already reassembled, and increased They passed across the hall, and, by the addition of Sydney Bouverie, ascending a wide staircase, entered a Lord Delamere's younger son, and long corridor with many doors on either Lucy Herbert, the sister of Mrs Bouside.

verie. As Constance entered, they Mrs Bouverie opened one of these; advanced to meet her with an afand for a moment Constance almost fectionate welcome, that awakened a imagined herself again in the home of responding tone in her heart. her childhood.

“I must introduce my boy to you," There stood her harp, her books, said Mrs Bouverie, as she approached those loved though inanimate things with a beautiful child of a year old in that she had forgotten she was ever to her arms. see again.

Constance took the blooming infant She spoke not, but her momentary in her lap, and fondly caressed him. glance met Mrs Bouverie's soft eyes, He did not shrink from the embraces and she felt that she was understood. of a stranger, but returned them with

A bright fire glowed on the hearth, playful smiles, and they were deeply enand its warmth converted to summer gaged in improving their newly formair, the light breeze that stole through ed friendship, when the loud booming the open windows, bearing the rich of the gong summoned the party to the perfume of the plants that filled their dining room. deep recesses.

Constance kissed the smiling babe as They passed on to a dressing-room, she committed him to the arms of his which opened from the boudoir. nurse, and accepting the offered sup

A cheerful fire blazed there too, and port of Lord Delamere, passed into the Grace was busying herself in unpack- saloon. ing and arranging her lady's clothes. As they entered it, they were met

shall leave you to rest now, dear by the only daughter of Lord DelaConstance,” said Mrs Bouverie gently, mere, Gertrude Bouverie, who. ad“May the God of all comfort be with vanced from an opposite direction. you.'

Lord Delamere paused, She kissed the pale cheek of the introduce you, my dear Constance, to youthful mourner, and withdrew.

your

cousin Gertrude." Constance entered her sleeping apart- The cold salutation, the wintry ment, where the shaded windows and smile, that flitted for a moment over low soft couch seemed to invite the the pale, but beautiful features of weary traveller to a repose which she Gertrude, so unlike the affectionate gladly sought.

welcome which from every other memShe did not sleep, but enjoyed that ber of Lord Delamere's family she had delightful rest, in which the conscious- received, sent a chill to the heart of ness of outward objects blends with Constance, and with a saddened spirit the visions that pass before the mental she passed on. Gertrude, leaning on eye, and sounds are heard, but only in her father's disengaged arm, in silence, their soothing power.

accompanied them. The bright glow of sunset had given The conversation of the circle around

66

[ocr errors]

Let me

[ocr errors]

B

the social board was animated and in- tinctness the figures portrayed upon teresting, but it failed to engage the that part of the tapestry nearest to attention of Constance.

it. The manner of Gertrude had sud

A large chair, with a reading desk denly checked the emotions of gratitude attached to it, a couch and a small and affection, which had been exercis- table covered with books and writing ing since her arrival their soothing materials, over which a silver lamp influence over her feelings, and she shed its pale ray, were placed near the could not immediately regain the de- fire. gree of tranquillity which she had be- “What have you been reading, Gerfore enjoyed.

trude ?” said Mrs Bouverie, as she She turned at length a timid glance bent over the pages of a book that lay towards the countenance of Gertrude, open upon the table. “Ah, Butler's and was surprised to find her soft blue Analogy; I never can read the clear, eyes fixed upon herself with an expres- deep reasonings of that profound mind sion of mournful interest. Constance without longing to accompany him one immediately withdrew hers, but not step further into the sublime depths of before the gentle smile of Gertrude the Divine character and government, had seemed to ask forgiveness for the without breathing a sigh that he has pain that she had caused.

not explored more deeply the mysteries “ You are not going without giving of redeeming love.me my accustomed invitation to visit “Such was not the object of his your sanctuary, dear Gertrude, said treatise,” said Gertrude, “It was to Mrs Bouverie, as Gertrude was about convince the infidel that his position is to retire silently from the dining-room untenable, not to describe the grandeur immediately after coffee.

or explore the rich caverns of the rock Gertrude turned—“You know, my upon which Christ has built his dear Isabella," said she, “how much Church.'" pleasure your visits always give me.” “I know it,” said Mrs Bouverie,

Mrs Bouverie rose and took the arm “ and most satisfactorily has he proved of her sister-in-law. 6. Will you come his position, and by removing the weak too, Constance," said Gertrude, hold- objections urged against the truth and ing out to her cousin her disengaged obligations of religion, he has done hand.

good service to the cause of the ReSurprised and pleased, Constance deemer. Yet, and especially in his hastened to accept of the invitation, Sermons

upon the love of God,' have and the gentle pressure of her hand, I felt this when I accompany that as Gertrude clasped it in her own, lofty spirit in its sublime contemplasealed their reconciliation, and banish- tions, to the very presence of Jehovah ; ed from the ardent mind of Constance I tremble till I remember that it is every emotion but those of interest and 'God my Saviour' whom I am about affection.

to approach-for it is in Him alone They crossed the entrance hall, and that the soul of fallen man can find a passing through the saloon, entered a home, and without that home, Oh how long corridor, which led from the fur- desolate is the heart, how unsatisfied ther end of it. When they had tra- are the yearnings of the immortal versed nearly the whole of this pas- spirit.” sage, Gertrude opened the door of her “ Yes, the heart is indeed desolate," boudoir and they entered.

said Gertrude, in a low tone. - It was a lofty room, hung with an- The words seemed to have escaped cient tapestry representing scenes of unconsciously, for a slight colour suffusRoman history.

ed her pale cheek after she had uttered The large wood fire which blazed in them; and, as if willing to engage the the wide chimney, hardly sufficed to attention of Constance by some other illuminate the dark recesses, filled with object, she turned immediately to shew, books, of the further side of the room, her an antique Roman vase which stood while it called into almost living dis- in one corner of her room.

[ocr errors]

caress.

Mrs Bouverie looked at her for a' and Mrs Bouverie drew aside the curmoment with an expression of mourn- tain, that Constance might look at ful tenderness, and tears filled her eyes; her sleeping boy. but, repressing the emotion, she joined He lay in the calm repose of infancy, her sister and Constance, and entered his glowing cheek rested upon

his with them in an animated conversation dimpled hand; and his bright golden upon the subject of Roman antiqui- ringlets lay upon the white pillow. ties,

Constance bent softly over him, and “ But we must pursue our investiga- kissed his cheek. He did not awake, tions the next time that Gertrude in- but smiled, as if half conscious of the vites us to share the privileges of her retreat,” said Mrs Bouverie at length, May the Shepherd of Israel bless “ for that time-piece warns us to re- thee, my child," said Mrs Bouverie, as tire."

she fondly kissed him. “ What repose She arose and affectionately kissed the knowledge of the Saviour's care the fair brow of her sister.

“ Good

gives to the heart,” she continued to night, dear Isabella,” said Gertrude. Constance, as they left the room, She turned to her cousin, and clasping " which, but for that assurance, would her hand for a moment in her own, be ever anxious for the safety of its kissed her cheek.

treasures. But he has promised to Constance had felt during the even- keep that which is committed to him' ing an increasing interest in her cousin, --and not only does he keep it, whatand she would now have expressed in ever it be, but keep in peace the heart manner the tenderness of feeling to- which yields it to his care. wards her, which was already awaken- Constance did not answer. Mrs Boued in her heart; but there was in the verie's words awoke a train of reflecwhole demeanour of Gertrude an un- tion in her mind, and they passed on definable influence, which repressed, in silence. even while it attracted, and she could When they entered the drawingonly return the gentle salutation in si- room, they found Lord Delamere with lence.

Sydney, deeply engaged in the myste“Will you visit my nursery with ries of chess—and Mr Bouverie at the me before we return to the drawing- other side of the room, reading aloud room ?” said Mrs Rouverie, as she to his mother and Lucy from a volume passed with Constance along the cor- which seemed to engross their attenridor.

tion not less than the chess-board did “With pleasure,” replied Constance, that of the opposite party. “ though I must not expect a smile “ You have check-mated me, my from my little friend at so late an hour dear father,” said Sydney rising, as as this."

they entered, “ I must yield you the They turned into a passage leading victor's palm.” from the corridor, and ascending a Nay, Sydney, you were conqueror flight of stairs, passed along a wide in the two first, the next will decide to gallery, at the farther end of which whom the palm of victory really beMrs Bouverie opened a door which led longs.” into the nursery.

The two nurses “ To-morrow, then, let it be so," were seated at a small table near the said Mrs Bouverie, as with a smile fire, the elder one at work, while the that seemed to ask the permission that younger read to her from the pages was not denied, she playfully closed of the Holy Bible, which lay open be- the chess-board—“ it were sad that fore her.

the repose of either should be broken They rose respectfully as Mrs Bou- by the consciousness of defeat.” verie entered, and affection, as well as " Well, I suppose, as good knights respect, was expressed in the tone in and true, we have no choice left but which the elder nurse answered her to lay down our weapons at the comenquiries.

mand of our liege lady. Is it not so, They passed into the inner room, Isabella," said Lord Delamere, as he rose and kissed the fair cheek of his ing with the feelings which that day daughter-in-law.

had awakened, crowded upon her mind, Mrs Bouverie accompanied Constance and she lay with her curtain withto her room, and kindly wishing her drawn, and the clear moonbeams refreshing rest, left her to seek the streaming upon her bed; while no repose which her mind, exhausted by sound broke the stillness of midnight, the varied emotions through which she but the low sigbing of the breeze, as had passed, demanded, not less than her it rocked the dark boughs of the trees bodily frame.

that shaded her windows, and threw Constance retired, but not, for many their forms in fitful shadows upon the hours, to sleep. Memories of the past, wall. and visions of the future, both blend

CHAPTER 11.

Waen Constance awoke at an early Constance found it unoccupied, but hour on the succeeding morning, from through its open doors she saw Mr and the deep sleep which had at length Mrs Bouverie in the park, approachvisited her weary frame, it was some ing towards the castle. She advanced time ere she could recall to remem- to meet them, and after exchanging brance the events of the past, or re- the kind greetings of the morning, Mr cognise the objects that met her awaken- Bouverie offered her his disengaged ing gaze.

arm, and they turned towards the lake. The dark boughs that waved before Constance gazed with rapture on the her windows seemed the same that magnificent scene before her, and her had shaded the rectory, and in the soft young spirit, forgetful, for a time, of murmur of the tiny waves that curled the sorrow, which was to it a strange the bosom of the lake, she fancied that and unwelcome guest, exulted in all she still heard the low music of her own its former joyousness, as she breathed sweet Ulles-water.

the fresh morning air, and gathered But memory awoke, alas! too soon, the fragrant blossoms, gemmed with from her short forgetfulness, and re- glittering dew-drops, that unfolded called the forms of sorrow from their their treasures around her. shadowy obscurity, with ten-fold vivid- The sound of the gong, which sumness, and Constance wept in bitterness moned them to breakfast, soon obliged of spirit, while she remembered the them to retrace their steps. As they father whose love had blessed her approached the castle, they were met youthful days, and the beloved abode by Lucy Herbert, who advanced from of her childhood, which she never more an opposite direction. should call her home.

Where have you been wandering These tears relieved her; and vi- truant ?" said Mrs Bouverie, as she sions of hope, picturing bright days affectionately returned the smile that to come, began to dawn upon her dimpled her sister's glowing cheek, mind. She thought of the love that “ Not surely so far as to Linden Wood, had welcomed her to the abode of those robbing the bees of their honied store ?" amongst whom her future lot was cast; she continued, as she bent over the of the maternal kindness of her aunt, rich woodbine that her sister playfully and the soothing tenderness of Mrs fastened in her bosom. Bouverie; and while she felt herself I have indeed, Isabella, and I wish surrounded by all that could meet her that you had been with me, to see how affections, and gratify her tastes, that beautiful the valley looked from Linsense of repose experienced by the den Tower on this bright morning. heart when it has found a home, in- But will you go with me there after sensibly charmed away the bitterness luncheon, and I shall show you that I of her grief.

have left ungathered more of the bees' On entering the breakfast-room, treasure than the little labourers will

66 will

party ?!

[ocr errors]

ever carry away. Do you like walk- various emotions which for weeks had ing ?" she continued, turning to Con- agitated her, and she inhaled the sweet stance,

you
form one of our fresh air that was blowing from the

lake, with an intense longing for its “What pilgrimage is this that you bracing power to reach her weary are planning, Lucy ?” said Sydney, who spirit. now met them, as they entered the The sound of the gong summoning breakfast-room. Have you forgot- her to luncheon, at last broke the train ten that you had promised to ride with of her sad reveries, and, with an emome this afternoon to Hazlewood, and tion of relief, she descended to the I had hoped that Constance would ac- saloon. company us there.'

The kindness that met her there, "Forgive me, Sydney, I had quite again dispelled, for a time, her sadness, forgotten our proposed excursion,” an- and when the horses were brought imswered Lucy. “ We shall ride to mediately after luncheon, she mounted Hazlewood, as we had intended, for the beautiful Arabian appropriated to we can go at any time to Linden Tower. her use, with a feeling of delight that But which do you prefer, Constance ?" banished for a time every trace of me

I must acknowledge a preference lancholy. to the excursion first planned,” replied They rode gaily on, too rapidly for Constance, as rirling is at all times some miles to admit of conversation, my favourite exercise."

save in brief remark. At length they The breakfast hour passed in cheer- reached a little hamlet, scattered along ful conversation, and immediately the declivity of a hill that skirted the afterwards the party separated, as was road, and as they reined in their their wont, to pursue their different prancing steeds, and passed leisurely avocations, till the hour of luncheon. along the street, if such it might be Lord Delamere set out to attend a called, many a look and smile of affecmeeting upon magisterial business, in tionate welcome, greeted them from the county town, about ten miles off. the cottage doors. Mrs Bouverie accompanied her husband When they had nearly passed to his study, where they were accus- through the hamlet, a young woman, tomed to spend together the early hours who had been standing at the garden of each day. Sydney retired to the gate of a cottage, at a little distance library ; Constance to her boudoir; from the road, stepped forward and and Lucy to the drawing-room, to read seemed desirous, yet half afraid of adItalian with Lady Delamere, whose dressing them. long residence abroad had rendered “How are you, Mary,” said Lucy, all the continental languages familiar kindly, “and your grandmother, is she to her as that of her native isle.

well ?” Constance had been accustomed to The tears which she had been tryemploy this hour in painting; but ing to repress, now flowed down the when she almost unco

aconsciously ap- young woman's cheeks. proached her easel, a sudden remem- "My grandmother is very ill, mabrance rushed upon her mind, and she dam,” said she, "she was taken with threw aside her brush, almost feeling, pain in the night, and I have been for the moment, that she should never watching at the gate here for an hour, care to use it again. She tried to read, for I thought that perhaps your ladybut her thoughts wandered, and throw- ship might pass this way this aftering aside the volume, after repeated noon.” efforts to recall her attention, she ad- Lucy turned to her companions. vanced to the open window, and stood “Will you ride on towards Hazlefor some time listlessly plucking the wood,” said she, “and I shall follow leaves from a geranium that stood and meet you as you return. “I should

like to see poor Dame Wood-perhaps A sense of langour unusual to her, I could suggest something that may rehad succeeded to the excitement of the lieve her.”

near.

« PreviousContinue »