The Mother's Recompense, Volume I.
Part 2 out of 6
prejudice, which Annie never permitted an opportunity to pass without
carefully instilling. Why did she then permit his attentions? She knew
not; while listening to his voice, there was a fascination about him she
could not resist, but in her solitary hours she studiously banished his
image to give place to one whom, by the representations of Annie, she
persuaded herself that she loved alone.
Genuine, indeed, had been the enjoyment of Caroline Hamilton, from the
first moment she had entered the ball-room; but if it could be
heightened, it was when, about the middle of the evening, Lord
Alphingham entered. A party of gay young men instantly surrounded him,
but breaking from them all, he attached himself the greater part of the
night to Mr. Hamilton. Only two quadrilles he danced with Caroline, but
they were enough to aid the schemes of Annie. She was at hand to excite,
to an almost painful degree, the mind of her friend, to speak in
rapturous praise of Lord Alphingham, to chain him now and then to her
side, and yet so contrive, that the whole of his conversation was with
Caroline; and yet the conduct of Annie Grahame had been such that night
as rather to excite the admiration than the censure of Mr. Hamilton.
Playfully he combated the prejudice of his wife, who as sportively owned
that Miss Grahame's conduct in society was different to that she had
anticipated; but her penetrative mind felt not the more at ease when she
thought on the friendship that subsisted between Annie and her child.
"Am I dreaming, or is it Mrs. Hamilton I again behold?" exclaimed an
elderly gentleman, as she came forward, and hastily advancing, seized
both her hands, and pressed them with unfeigned warmth and pleasure,
which greeting Mrs. Hamilton as cordially returned. He was a very old
friend of her father's, and had attained by promotion his present high
rank of Admiral of the Blue, but had been the first captain under whose
orders her lamented brother sailed. Very many, therefore, were the
associations that filled her mind as she beheld him, and her mild eyes
for a moment glistened in uncontrollable emotion.
"How very many changes have taken place since we have come alongside,
Mrs. Hamilton," the old veteran said, gazing on the blooming matron
before him with almost paternal pleasure. "Poor Delmont! could his kind
heart have borne up against the blow of poor Charles's fate, he surely
would have been happy, if all the tales I hear of his daughter Emmeline
"Come and judge for yourself, Sir George; my home must ever be open to
my father's dearest friend," replied Mrs. Hamilton, endeavouring by
speaking playfully to conceal the painful reminiscences called forth by
his words. "I will not vouch for the truth of anything you may have
heard about us in London. You must contrive to moor your ship into the
harbour of Oakwood, and thus gratify us all."
"Ay, ay; take care that I do not cast anchor there so long, that you
will find the best thing will be to cut the cables, send me adrift, and
thus get rid of me," replied the old sailor, delighted at her addressing
him in nautical phrase. "Your appearance here has belied half the
stories I heard; so now that you have given me permission, I shall set
sail to discover the truth of the rest."
"You heard, I suppose, that Mr. Hamilton never intended his children to
visit London? They were too good, too--what may I term it?--too perfect,
to mingle with their fellow-creatures; is not that it, Admiral?"
demanded Mrs. Hamilton, with a smile.
"Ay, ay; something very like it,--but glad to see the wind is changed
from that corner. Don't like solitude, particularly for young
folks,--and how many are here?"
"Of my children?" The veteran nodded. "But one, my eldest girl. I do not
consider her sister quite old enough to be introduced."
"And you left her in harbour, and only permitted one frigate to cruise.
If she had any of her uncle Charles's spirit, she would have shown some
little insubordination at that piece of discipline, Mrs. Hamilton," said
the old man, joyously.
"Not if my authority is established somewhat like Sir George's, on the
basis of affection," replied Mrs. Hamilton, again smiling.
"Ay, you have learnt that secret of government, have you? Now who would
think this was the little quiet girl I had dandled on my knee, and told
her tales of storm and war that made her shudder? And where are your
"Both at college."
"What, neither of them a chip of the old block, and neither of them for
the sea? Don't like their taste. No spirit of salt-water within them."
"But neither of them deficient in spirit for a life on shore. But,
however, to set your heart at ease, for the naval honour of our family,
Sir George, I have a nephew, who, I think, some few years hence will
prove a brave and gallant son of Neptune. The accounts we have of him
are most pleasing. He has inherited all poor Charles's spirit and
daring, as well as that true courage, for which you have said my brother
was so remarkable."
"Glad of it--glad of it; but what nephew? who is he? A nephew of Mr.
Hamilton's will not raise the glory of the Delmont family; and you had
only one brother, if I remember rightly?"
"Have you quite forgotten the beautiful girl, who, when I last had the
pleasure of meeting you in such a scene as this, was the object of
universal attraction? You surely remember my father's favourite Eleanor,
"Eleanor--Eleanor--let me think;" and the old sailor for a moment put
himself in a musing attitude, and then starting, exclaimed, "to be sure
I do; the loveliest girl I ever cast eyes upon;--and what has become of
her? By the bye, there was some story about her, was there not? She
chose a husband for herself, and ran off, and broke her poor father's
heart. Where is she now?"
"Let her faults be forgotten, my dear Sir George," replied Mrs.
Hamilton, with some emotion. "They were fully, painfully repented. Let
them die with her."
"Die! Is she, too, dead? What, that graceful sylph, that exquisite
creature I see before me now, in all the pride of conscious loveliness!"
and the veteran drew his rough hand across his eyes in unfeigned
emotion, then hastily recovering himself, he said, "and this boy--this
sailor is her son. I can hardly believe it possible. Why he surely
cannot be old enough to go to sea."
"You forget the number of years that have passed, Sir George. Edward is
now eighteen, as old, if not older, than his mother was when you last
"And when did poor Eleanor die?"
"Six years ago. She had been left a widow in India, and only reached her
native land to breathe her last in my arms. You will be pleased, I
think, with her daughter, though, on second thought, perhaps, she may
not be quite lively enough for you; however, I must beg your notice for
her, as her attachment to her brother is so excessive, that all relating
to the sea is to her in the highest degree interesting."
"And do your sister's children live with you--had their father no
"None; and even if he had, I should have petitioned to bring them up and
adopt them as my own. Poor children, when their mother died, their
situation was indeed melancholy. Helpless orphans of ten and scarcely
twelve, cast on a strange land, without one single friend to whom they
could look for succour or protection. My heart bled for them, and never
once have I regretted my decision."
The old man looked at her glowing cheek in admiration, and pressing her
hand, he said warmly, prefacing his words, as he always did, with the
affirmative "ay, ay."
"Your father's daughter must be somewhat different to others of her
rank. I must come and see you, positively I must. Wind and tide will be
strongly against me, if you do not see me in a few days anchoring off
your coast. No storms disturb your harbour, I fancy. But what has become
of your husband--your daughter? let me see all I can belonging to you.
Come, Mrs. Hamilton, crowd sail, and tow me at once to my wished for
Entering playfully into the veteran's humour, Mrs. Hamilton took his arm
and returned to the ball-room, where she was speedily joined by her
husband, who welcomed Sir George Wilmot with as much warmth and
cordiality as his wife had done, and as soon as the quadrille was
finished, a glance from her mother brought Caroline and her partner,
Lord Alphingham, to her side.
The astonishment of Sir George, as Mrs. Hamilton introduced the blooming
girl before him as her daughter, was so irresistibly comic, that no one
present could prevent a smile; and that surprise was heightened when, in
answer to his supposition that she must be the eldest of Mrs. Hamilton's
family, Mrs. Hamilton replied that her two sons were both older, and
Caroline was, indeed, the youngest but one.
"Then I tell you what, Mrs. Hamilton," the old veteran said, "Old Time
has been playing tricks with me, and drawing me much nearer eternity
than I at all imagined myself, or else he has stopped with me and gone
on with you."
"Or rather, my good friend," replied Mr. Hamilton, "you can only trace
the hand of Time upon yourself, having no children in whose increasing
years you can behold him, and, therefore, he is very likely to slip the
cable before you are aware; but with us such cannot be."
"Ay, ay, Hamilton, suppose it must be so--wish I had some children of my
own, but shall come and watch Time's progress on these instead. Ah, Miss
Hamilton, why am I such an old man? I see all the youngsters running off
with the pretty girls, and I cannot venture to ask one to dance with
"May I venture to ask you then, Sir George? The name of Admiral Wilmot
would be sufficient for any girl, I should think, to feel proud of her
partner, even were he much older and much less gallant than you, Sir
George," answered Caroline, with ready courtesy, for she had often heard
her mother speak of him, and his manner pleased her.
"Well, that's a pretty fair challenge, Sir George; you must take up the
glove thrown from so fair a hand," observed Lord Alphingham, with a
smile that, to Caroline, and even to her mother, rendered his strikingly
handsome features yet handsomer. "Shall I relinquish my partner?"
"No, no, Alphingham; you are better suited to her here. At home--at your
_own_ home, Miss Hamilton, one night, I shall remind you of your
promise, and we will trip it together. Now I can only thank you for your
courtesy; it has done my heart good, and reconciled me to my old age."
"I may chance to find a rival at home, Sir George. If you see my sister,
you will not be content with me. She will use every effort to surpass me
in your good graces; for when I tell her I have seen the brave admiral
whose exploits have often caused her cheek to flush with pride--patriot
pride she calls it--she will be wild till she has seen you."
"Will she--will she, indeed? Come and see her to-morrow; tell her so,
with an old man's love, and that I scolded your mother heartily for not
bringing her to-night. Mind orders; let me see if you are sailor enough
instinctively to obey an old captain's orders."
"Trust me, Sir George," replied Caroline, laughingly, and a young man at
that instant addressing her by name, she bowed gracefully to the
veteran, and turned towards him who spoke.
"Miss Hamilton, I claim your promise for this quadrille," said Lord
"Good bye," said Sir George. "I shall claim you for my partner when I
see you at home."
"St. Eval dancing again. Merciful powers! we certainly shall have the
roof tumbling over our heads," exclaimed Lord Henry, as he and Caroline
found themselves _vis a vis_ to the earl of whom he spoke.
"Why, is it so very extraordinary that a young man should dance?"
"A philosopher as he is, decidedly. You do not know him, Miss Hamilton.
He travelled all over Europe, I believe, really for the sake of
improvement, instead of enjoying all the fun he might have had; he
stored his brain with all sorts of knowledge, collecting material and
stealing legends to write a book. I went with him part of the way, but
became so tired of my companion, that I turned recreant and fled, to
enjoy a more spirited excursion of my own. I tell him, whenever I want a
lecture on all subjects, I shall come to him. I call him the Walking
Cyclopaedia, and only fancy such a personage dancing a quadrille. What
lady can have the courage to turn over the leaves of the Cyclopaedia in
a quadrille? let me see. Oh, Lady Lucy Melville, our noble hostess's
daughter. She pretends to be a bit of a blue, therefore they are not so
ill-matched as I imagined; however, she is not very bad--not a deep
blue, only just tinged with celestial azure. Sweet creature, how you
will be edified before your lesson is over. Look, Miss Hamilton, on the
other side of the Cyclopaedia. That good lady has been the last seven
years dancing with all her might and main for a husband. There is
another, striving, by an air of elegant hauteur, to prove she is
something very great, when really she is nothing at all. There's a girl
just introduced, as our noble poet says."
"Take care, take care, Lord Henry; you are treading on dangerous
ground," exclaimed Caroline, unable to prevent laughing at the comic
manner in which her companion criticised the dancers. "You forget that I
too have only just been released, and that this is only my first glimpse
of the world."
"You do me injustice, Miss Hamilton. I am too delightfully and
refreshingly reminded of that truth to forget it for one instant. You
may have only just made your _debut_, but you have not been schooled and
scolded, and frightened into propriety as that unfortunate girl has. If
she has smiled once too naturally, spoken one word too much, made one
step wrong, or said sir, my lord, your lordship, once too often, she
will have such a lecture to-morrow, she will never wish to go to a ball
"Poor girl!" said Caroline, in a tone of genuine pity, which caused a
smile from her partner.
"She is not worthy of your pity, Miss Hamilton; she is hardened to it
all. What a set we are dancing with, men and women, all heartless alike;
but I want to know what magic wand has touched St. Eval. I do believe it
must be your eyes, Miss Hamilton. He talks to his partner, and looks at
you; tries to do two things at once, listen to her, and hear your voice.
You are the enchantress, depend upon it."
A glow of triumph burned on the heart of Caroline at these words. For
though rather prejudiced against St. Eval by the arts of Annie, still,
to make an impression on one whom she had heard was invulnerable to all,
to make the calm, and some said, severely stoical, St. Eval bend beneath
her power, was a triumph she determined to achieve. That spirit of
coquetry so fatal to her aunt, the ill-fated Eleanor, was as innate in
the bosom of Caroline; no opportunity had yet offered to give it play,
still the seeds were there, and she could not resist the temptation now
presented. Even in her childhood Mrs. Hamilton had marked this fatal
propensity. Every effort had been put in force to check it, every gentle
counsel given, but arrested in its growth though it was, erased entirely
it could not be. The principles of virtue had been too carefully
instilled, for coquetry to attain the same ascendancy and indulgence
with Caroline as it had with her aunt, yet she felt she could no longer
control the inclination which the present opportunity afforded her to
use her power.
"Do you go to the Marchioness of Malvern's fete, next week?" demanded
Lord Henry. Caroline answered in the affirmative.
"I am glad of it. The Walking Cyclopaedia may make himself as agreeable
there as he has so marvellously done to-night. You will be in fairy
land. He has brought flowers from every country, and reared them for his
mother, till they have become the admiration of all for miles around. I
told him he looked like a market gardener, collecting flowers from every
place he went to. I dragged him away several times, and told him he
would certainly be taken for a country booby, and scolded him for
demeaning his rank with such ignoble pleasures, and what wise answer do
you think he made me?"
"A very excellent one, I have no doubt."
"Or it would not come from such a learned personage, Miss Hamilton.
Really it was so philosophic, I was obliged to learn it as a lesson to
retain it. That he, superior as he deemed himself, and that wild flower
which he tended with so much care, were alike the work of Infinite
Wisdom, and as such, the study of the one could not demean the other. I
stared at him, and for the space of a week dubbed him the Preaching
Pilgrim; but I was soon tired of that, and resumed his former one, which
comprises all. I wonder at what letter the walking volume will be opened
at his mother's fete?"
"I should imagine B," said Caroline, smiling.
"B--B--what does B stand for? I have forgotten how to spell--let me see.
Ah! I have it,--excellent, admirable! Miss Hamilton. Lecture on Botany
from the Walking Cyclopaedia--bravo! We had better scrape up all our
learning, to prove we are not perfect ignoramuses on the subject."
Caroline laughingly agreed; and the quadrille being finished, Lord
Henry succeeded in persuading her to accompany him to the
In the meanwhile, perfectly unconscious that he had been the subject of
the animated conversation of his _vis a vis_, St. Eval was finding more
and more to admire in Miss Hamilton. He conducted his partner to her
seat as she desired, and then strolled towards Mr. Hamilton's party, in
the hope that Caroline would soon rejoin her mother; but Annie had been
in the refreshment-room, and she did not reappear for some little time.
Mrs. Hamilton had at length been enabled to seek Lady Helen Grahame,
with whom she remained conversing, for she felt, though the delay was
unavoidable, she partly deserved the reproach with which Lady Helen
greeted her, when she entered, for permitting the whole evening to pass
without coming near her. Mrs. Hamilton perceived, with regret, that she
was more fitted for the quiet of her own boudoir, than the glare and
heat of crowded rooms. Gently she ventured to expostulate with her on
her endeavours, and Lady Helen acknowledged she felt quite unequal to
the exertion, but that the persuasions of her daughter had brought her
there. She was too indolent to add, she had seen nothing of Annie the
whole evening; nor did she wish to say anything that might increase the
disapprobation with which she sometimes felt, though Annie heeded it
not, Mrs. Hamilton regarded her child. It was admiration, almost
veneration, which Lady Helen felt for Mrs. Hamilton, and no one could
have imagined how very frequently the indolent but well-meaning woman
had regretted what she deemed was her utter inability to act with the
same firmness that characterised her friend. She was delighted at the
notice Lilla ever received from her; but blinded by the artful manners
of her elder girl, she often wished that Annie had been the favourite
instead. There was somewhat in Mrs. Hamilton's manner that night that
caused her to feel her own inferiority more than ever; but no
self-reproach mingled with the feeling. She could not be like her, and
then why should she expect or deplore what was impossible. Leaning on
Mrs. Hamilton's arm, she resolved, however, to visit the ball-room, and
they reached Mr. Hamilton at the instant Grahame joined them.
"You here, Grahame!" exclaimed his friend, as he approached. "I thought
you had forsworn such things."
"I make an exception to-night," he answered. "I wished to see my fair
friend Caroline where I have longed to see her."
"You are honoured, indeed, Mrs. Hamilton," Lady Helen could not refrain
from saying. "He was not present at the _entree_ even of his own
"And why was I not, Lady Helen? because I would not by my presence give
the world reason to say I also approved of the very early age at which
Miss Grahame was introduced. If I do not mistake, she is four months
younger than Caroline, and yet my daughter is no longer a novice in such
scenes as these."
Lady Helen shrunk in terror from the stern glance of her husband, who
little knew the pain he inflicted; and Mrs. Hamilton hastily, but
cautiously drew her away to enter into conversation with the Marchioness
of Malvern, who was near them, which little manoeuvre quickly removed
the transient cloud; and though soon again compelled to seek the shelter
of the quiet little room she had quitted, the friendly kindness of Mrs.
Hamilton succeeded in making Lady Helen's evening end more agreeably
than it had begun.
"Are you only just released, Grahame?" demanded Lord Alphingham, who
still remained near Mr. Hamilton.
"You are less fortunate than I was, or perhaps you will think, in
parliamentary concerns, more so; but as the ball was uppermost in my
thoughts this evening, I was glad to find myself at liberty above an
"Is there nothing, then, stirring in the Upper House?"
"Nothing; I saw many of the noble members fast asleep, and those who
spoke said little to the purpose. When do you gentlemen of the Lower
House send up your bill? it will be a charity to give us something to
"We shall be charitable then on Friday next, and I much doubt if you do
not have some warm debating work. If we succeed, it will be a glorious
triumph; the Whigs are violent against us, and they are by far the
strongest party. I depend greatly on your eloquence, Alphingham."
"It is yours to the full extent of its power, my good friend; it carries
some weight along with it, I believe, and I would gladly use it in a
"Did you speak to-night, Grahame?" Mr. Hamilton asked, evincing by his
animated countenance an interest in politics, which, from his retired
life, no one believed that he possessed. Grahame eagerly entered into
the detail of that night's debate, and for a little time the three
gentlemen were absorbed in politics alone. The approach of Caroline and
her mother, however, caused Grahame suddenly to break off in his speech.
"A truce with debates, for the present," he gaily exclaimed. "Hamilton,
I never saw Caroline's extraordinary likeness to you till this moment.
What a noble-looking girl she is! Ah, Hamilton, I could pardon you if
you were much prouder of your children than you are."
An involuntary sigh broke from his lips as he spoke, but checking it, he
hastened to Caroline, and amused her with animated discourse, till Lord
Alphingham and Eugene St. Eval at the same instant approached, the one
to claim, the other to request, Caroline as his partner in the last
quadrille before supper. The shade of deep disappointment which passed
over the young Earl's expressive countenance as Caroline eagerly
accepted the Viscount's offered arm, and owned she had been engaged to
him some time, at once confirmed to her flattered fancy the truth of
Lord Henry's words, and occasioned a feeling near akin to pleasure in
the equally observant mother. Mrs. Hamilton shrunk with horror at the
idea of introducing her child into society merely for the purpose of
decoying a husband; but she must have been void of natural feeling had
not the thought very often crossed her mind, that the time was drawing
nigh when her daughter's earthly destiny would, in all probability, be
fixed for ever; and in the midst of the tremblings of maternal love the
natural wish would mingle, that noble rank and manly virtue might be the
endowments of him who would wed her Caroline, and amongst those noble
youths with whom she had lately mingled, she had seen but one her fond
heart deemed on all points worthy of her child, and that one was the
young Earl Eugene St. Eval. That he was attracted, her penetrating eye
could scarcely doubt, but farther she would not think; and so great was
her sensitiveness on this head, that much as she admired the young man,
she was much more reserved with him than she would have been had she
suspected nothing of his newly dawning feelings.
St. Eval did not join in the quadrille, and after lingering by Mrs.
Hamilton till she was invited to the supper-room, he aroused the
increased merriment of his tormentor, Lord Henry, by offering her his
arm, conducting her to supper, and devoting himself to her, he declared,
as if she were the youngest and prettiest girl in the room.
"Playing the agreeable to mamma, to win the good graces of _la fille_.
Admirable diplomacy; Lord St. Eval, I wish you joy of your new talent,"
maliciously remarked Lord Henry, as the Earl and his companion passed
him. A glance from those dark eyes, severe enough to have sent terror to
the soul of any less reckless than Lord Henry, was St. Eval's only
reply, and he passed on; and seldom did Mrs. Hamilton find a companion
more to her taste in a supper-room than the young Earl. The leaves of
the Walking Cyclopaedia were indeed then opened, Henry D'Este would have
said, for on very many subjects did St. Eval allow himself that evening
to converse, which, except to his mother and sisters, were ever locked
in the recesses of his own reflecting mind; but there was a kindness,
almost maternal, which Mrs. Hamilton unconsciously used to every young
person who sought her company, and that charm the young and gifted
nobleman never could resist. He spoke of her sons in a manner that could
not fail to attract a mother's heart. The six months he had spent with
them at college had been sufficient for him to form an intimate
friendship with Percy, whose endeavours to gain his esteem he had been
unable to resist; while he regretted that the reserved disposition of
Herbert, being so like his own, had prevented his knowing him so well as
his brother. He spoke too of a distant relative of Mrs. Hamilton's, the
present Lord Delmont, in whom, as the representative of her ancient
family, she was much interested. St. Eval described with eloquence the
lovely villa he occupied on the banks of Lago Guardia, near the
frontiers of the Tyrol, the health of his only sister, some few years
younger than himself, not permitting them to live in England; he had
given up all the invitations to home and pleasure held out to him by his
father-land, and retiring to Italy, devoted himself entirely to his
mother and sister.
"He is a brother and son after your own heart, Mrs. Hamilton," concluded
St. Eval, with animation, "and that is the highest compliment I can pay
Mrs. Hamilton smiled, and as she gazed on the glowing features of the
young man, she thought he who could so well appreciate such virtues
could not be--nay, she knew he was not--deficient in them himself, and
stronger than ever became her secret wish; but she hastily banished it,
and gave her sole attention to the interesting subjects on which St.
Eval continued to speak.
For some few hours after supper the ball continued, with even, perhaps,
more spirit than it had commenced; but St. Eval did not ask Caroline to
dance again. He fancied she preferred Alphingham's attentions, and his
sensitive mind shrunk from being again refused. Caroline knew not the
heart of him over whom she had resolved to use her power, perhaps if she
had, she would have hesitated in her determination. The least
encouragement made his heart glow with an uncontrollable sensation of
exquisite pleasure, while repulse bade it sink back with an equal if not
a greater degree of pain. St. Eval was conscious of this weakness in his
character; he was aware that he possessed a depth of feeling, which
unless steadily controlled, would tend only to his misery; and it was
for this he clothed himself in impenetrable reserve, and obtained from
the world the character of being proud and disagreeable. He dreaded the
first entrance of love within his bosom, for instinctively he felt that
his very sensitiveness would render the passion more his misery than his
joy. We are rather sceptics in the doctrine of love at first sight, but
in this case it was fervid and enduring, as if it had risen on the solid
basis of intimacy and esteem. From the first hour he had spent in the
society of Caroline Hamilton, Eugene St. Eval loved. He tried to subdue
and conquer his newly-awakened feelings, and would think he had
succeeded, but the next hour he passed in her society brought the truth
clearer than ever before his eyes; her image alone occupied his heart.
He shrunk, in his overwrought sensitiveness, from paying her those
attentions which would have marked his preference; he did not wish to
excite the remarks of the world, nor did he feel that he possessed
sufficient courage to bear the repulse, with which, if she did not
regard him, and if she were the girl he fancied her, she would cheek his
forwardness. But his heart beat high, and it was with some difficulty he
controlled his emotion, when he perceived that Caroline refused to dance
even with Lord Alphingham on several occasions, to continue conversing
with himself. How his noble spirit would have chafed and bled, could he
have known it was love of power and coquetry that dictated her manner,
and not regard, as for the time he allowed himself to fancy.
The evening closed, the noble guests departed, and daylight had resumed
its reign over the earth by the time Mr. Hamilton's carriage stopped in
Berkeley Square. Animatedly had Caroline conversed with her parents on
the pleasures of the evening during their drive; but when she reached
her own room, when Martyn had left her, and she was alone, she was not
quite sure if a few faint whisperings of self-reproach did not in a
degree alloy the retrospection of this her first glimpse of the gay
world; but quickly--perhaps too quickly--they were banished. The
attentions of Lord Alphingham--heightened in their charm by Miss
Grahame's positive assurance to her friend that the Viscount was
attracted, there was not the very slightest doubt of it--and the
proposed pleasure of compelling the proud, reserved St. Eval to yield to
her fascinations, alone occupied her fancy. To make him her captive
would be triumph indeed. She wished, too, to show Annie she was not so
completely under control as she fancied; that she, too, could act with
the spirit of a girl of fashion; and to choose St. Eval, and
succeed--charm him to her side--force him to pay her attentions which no
other received, would, indeed, prove to her fashionable companions that
she was not so entirely governed by her mother, so very simple and
spiritless as they supposed. Her power should do that which all had
attempted in vain. Her cheek glowed, her heart burned with the bright
hope of expected triumph, and when she at length sunk to sleep, it was
to dream of St. Eval at her feet.
Oh! were the counsels, the example, the appeal of her mother all
forgotten? Was this a mother's recompense? Alas! alas!
Numerous were the cards and invitations now left at Mr. Hamilton's door;
and the world, in its most tempting form, was indeed spread before
Caroline, although, perhaps, compared with the constant routine of
pleasure pursued by some young ladies who attend two or three assemblies
each of the six nights out of the seven, her life could scarcely be
called gay. Mr. Hamilton had drawn a line, and, difficult as it was to
keep, he adhered to his resolution, notwithstanding the entreaties of
his friends, and very often those of his daughter. A dinner-party and a
ball he would sometimes permit Caroline to attend in one day, but the
flying from house to house, to taste of every pleasure offered, he never
would allow. Nor did he or any member of his family ever attend the
Opera on Saturday night, however great might be the attractions. To
Emmeline this was a great privation, as poetry and music had ever been
her chief delights, and the loss of even one night's enjoyment was felt
severely; but she acquiesced without a murmur, appreciating the truth of
her father's remark, that it was impossible to pay attention to the
Sabbath duties when the previous evening had been thus employed. She
knew, too, how difficult it was to attend to her studies (due regard for
which her parents required amidst every recreation) on the Wednesday,
with every air she had so delighted in the previous night ringing in her
ears. Those who were eager to condemn Mrs. Hamilton whenever they
could, declared it was the greatest inconsistency to take Emmeline to
the Opera, and permit her to appear so often in company at home, and yet
in other matters he so strict; why could she not bring her out at once,
instead of only tantalizing her? but Mrs. Hamilton could never do
anything like anybody else. Her daughters were much to be pitied; and as
for her niece, she must pass a miserable life, for she was scarcely ever
seen. They had no doubt, with all Mrs. Hamilton's pretensions to
goodness, that her poor niece was utterly neglected, and kept quite in
the background; because she was so beautiful, Mrs. Hamilton was jealous
of the notice she might obtain.
So thought, and so very often spoke, the ill-natured half of the world,
who, in reality, jealous and displeased at being excluded from Mr.
Hamilton's visiting list, did everything in their power to lessen the
estimation in which the family was held. In this, however, they could
not succeed, nor in causing pain to those whom they wished to wound.
Such petty malice demanded not a second thought from minds so
well-regulated as those of Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton. Mrs. Hamilton, indeed,
turned their ill-natured remarks to advantage, for instead of neglecting
or wholly despising them, she considered them in her own heart, and in
solitary reflection pondered deeply if she in any way deserved them. She
knew that the lesson of self-knowledge is never entirely learnt; and she
knew too, that an enemy may say that in ill-will or malice which may
have some foundation, though our friends, aided by self-love, may have
hidden the truth from us. Deeply did this noble woman think on her plan
of conduct; severely she scrutinized its every motive, and she was at
peace. Before entering upon it she had implored the Divine blessing, and
she felt that, in the case of Emmeline and Ellen, her prayers for
guidance had not been unheeded. Perhaps her conduct, with regard to the
former, might have appeared inconsistent; but she felt no ill-will
towards those who condemned, knowing the disposition of her child, and
certainly those who thus spoke did not.
Although there was little more than fourteen months difference between
the age of the sisters, Emmeline was so much a child in simplicity and
feeling, that her mother felt assured it would neither be doing her good
nor tending to her happiness to introduce her with her sister; as, from
the little difference in their ages, some mothers might have been
inclined to do. Yet she did not wish to keep her in such entire
seclusion as some, even of her friends, advised, but permitted her the
enjoyment of those innocent pleasures natural to her taste. Emmeline had
never once murmured at this arrangement; however it interfered with her
most earnest wishes, her confidence in her parents was such, that she
ever submitted to their wishes with cheerfulness. Mrs. Hamilton knew and
sympathised in her feelings at leaving Oakwood. She felt there were
indeed few pleasures in London that could compensate to a disposition
such as Emmeline's for those she had left. She had seen, with joy and
thankfulness, the conquest of self which her child had so perseveringly
achieved; and surely she was not wrong to reward her, by giving her
every gratification in her power, and endeavouring to make her as happy
as she was at Oakwood. Emmeline was no longer a child, and these
pleasures interfered not with the attention her parents still wished her
to bestow on the completion of her education. With all the innocence and
quiet of a young child she enjoyed the select parties given by her
mother with the same zest, but with the poetic feelings of dawning
youth. She absolutely revelled in the Opera, and there her mother
generally accompanied her once a week. An artist might have found a
pleasing study in the contemplation of that young, bright face, as she
sat entranced, every sense absorbed in the music which she heard, the
varying expression of her countenance reflecting every emotion acted
before her. At such moments the fond mother felt it to be impossible to
deny the young enthusiast the rich treat these musical recreations
afforded. A smile or look of sympathy was ever ready to meet the often
uncontrolled expressions of delight which Emmeline could not suppress,
for in thus listening to the compositions of our great masters, even
those much older than Emmeline can seldom entirely command their
emotions. Natural as were the manners of Caroline in public, they almost
resembled art when compared with those of her sister. Mrs. Hamilton's
lesson on self-control had not been forgotten. Emmeline generally
contrived to behave with perfect propriety, except in moments of
excitement such as these, where natural enthusiasm and almost childish
glee would have their play, and her mother could not, would not check
With regard to Ellen, the thoughtless remarks of the world were indeed
unfounded, as all who recollect the incidents detailed in former pages
will readily believe. Her health still continued so delicate as
frequently to occasion her aunt some anxiety. Through the winter,
strange to say, she had not suffered, but the spring brought on, at
intervals, those depressing feelings of languor which Mrs. Hamilton
hoped had been entirely conquered. The least exertion or excitement
caused her to suffer the following day, and therefore, except at very
small parties, she did not appear even at home. No one could suspect
from her quiet and controlled manner, and her apparently inanimate
though beautiful features, that she was as enthusiastic in mind and in
the delights of the Opera as her cousin Emmeline. By no one we do not
mean her aunt, for Mrs. Hamilton could now trace every feeling of that
young and sorrowing heart, and she saw with regret, that in her niece's
present state of health, even that pleasure must be denied her, for the
very exertion attendant on it was too much. Ellen never expressed
regret, nor did she ever breathe even to her aunt how often, how very
often, she longed once again to enjoy the fresh air of Oakwood, for
London to her possessed not even the few attractions it did to Emmeline.
She ever struggled to be cheerful, to smile when her aunt looked
anxiously at her, and strove to assure her that she was happy, perfectly
happy. Her never appearing as Emmeline did, and so very seldom even at
home, certainly gave matter for observation to those who, seeking for
it, refused to believe the true reason of her retirement. Miss Harcourt,
though she steadfastly refused to go out with her friend--for Mrs.
Hamilton never could allow that she filled any situation save that of a
friend and relation of the family--yet sometimes accompanied Emmeline to
the Opera, and always joined Mrs. Hamilton at home. Many, therefore,
were the hours Ellen spent entirely alone, but she persevered
unrepiningly in the course laid down for her by the first medical man in
London, whom her aunt had consulted.
How she employed those lonely hours Mrs. Hamilton never would inquire.
Perfect liberty to follow her own inclinations she should enjoy at
least; but it was not without pain that Mrs. Hamilton so frequently left
her niece. She knew that the greatest privation, far more than any of
the pleasures her cousins enjoyed, was the loss of her society. The
mornings and evenings were now so much occupied, that it often happened
that the Sabbath and the evening previous were the only times Ellen
could have intercourse of any duration with her. She regretted this
deeply, for Ellen was no longer a child; she was at that age when life
is in general keenly susceptible to the pleasures of society; and
reserved as was her disposition, Mrs. Hamilton felt assured, the loss of
that unchecked domestic intercourse she had so long enjoyed at Oakwood
was pain, though never once was she heard to complain. These contrary
duties frequently grieved the heart of her aunt. Often she accompanied
Caroline when her inclination prompted her to remain at home; for she
loved Ellen as her own child, and to tend and soothe her would sometimes
have been the preferable duty; but she checked the wish, for suffering
and solitary as was Ellen, Caroline, in the dangerous labyrinth of the
world, required her care still more.
There are trials which the world regards not--trials on which there are
many who look lightly--those productive of no interest, seldom of
sympathy, but with pain to the sufferer; it is when health fails, not
sufficiently to attract notice, but when the disordered state of the
nerves renders the mind irritable, the body weak; when from that
invisible weakness, little evils become great, the temper loses its
equanimity, the spirits their elasticity, we scarcely know wherefore,
and we reproach ourselves, and add to our uneasiness by thinking we are
becoming pettish and ill-tempered, enervated and repining; we dare not
confess such feelings, for our looks proclaim not failing health, and
who would believe us? when the very struggle for cheerfulness fills the
eye with tears, the heart with heaviness, and we feel provoked at our
peevishness, and angry that we are so different now to what we have
been; and we fancy, changed as we are, all we love can no longer regard
us as formerly. Such are among the trials of woman, unknown, frequently
unsuspected, by her nearest and dearest relations; and bitter indeed is
it when such trials befall us in early youth, when liveliness and
buoyancy are expected, and any departure therefrom is imagined to
proceed from causes very opposite to the truth. Such at present were the
trials of the orphan; but they were softened by the kindness and
sympathy of her aunt, who possessed the happy art of soothing more
effectually in a few words than others of a less kindly mould could ever
It is in the quick perception of character, in the adaptation of our
words to those whom we address, that in domestic circles renders us
beloved, and forms the fascination of society. Sympathy is the charm of
human life, and when once that is made apparent, we are not slow in
discovering or imagining others. Some people find the encouragement of
sympathy disagreeable, for they say it makes them miserable for no
purpose. What care they for the woes and joys of their acquaintances?
Often a tax, and never a pleasure. Minds of such nature know not that
there is a "joy in the midst of grief;" but Mrs. Hamilton did, and she
encouraged every kindly feeling of her nature. Previous to her marriage,
she had been perhaps too reserved and shrinking within herself, fancied
there was no one of her own rank at least who could understand her, and
therefore none with whom she could sympathise. But the greater
confidence of maturer years, the example of her husband, the emotions of
a wife and mother, had enlarged her heart, and caused her, by ready
sympathy with others, to increase her own enjoyments, and render herself
more pleasing than perhaps, if she had remained single, she ever would
have been. It was this invisible charm that caused her to be admired and
involuntarily loved, even by those who, considering her a saint at
first, shrunk in dread from her society, and it was this that rendered
the frequent trials of her niece less difficult to bear.
"Does my Ellen remember a little conversation we had on the eve of her
last birthday?" demanded Mrs. Hamilton of her niece one evening, as she
had finished dressing, to attend her daughter to the Opera, and Martyn,
at her desire, had obeyed Caroline's impatient summons, and left to
Ellen the task of fastening her lady's jewels.
Whenever nothing occurred to prevent it, Ellen was generally with her
aunt at dressing-time, and the little conversation that passed between
them at such periods frequently rendered Ellen's solitary evening
cheerful, when otherwise it might have been, from her state of health
and apparently endless task, even gloomy. Mrs. Hamilton had observed a
more than usual depression that evening in the manners of her niece,
and, without noticing, she endeavoured to remove it. Ellen was bending
down to clasp a bracelet as she spoke, and surprised at the question,
looked up, without giving herself time to conceal an involuntary tear,
though she endeavoured to remove any such impression, by smiling
cheerfully as she replied in the affirmative.
"And will it cheer your solitary evenings, then, my dear Ellen?" she
continued, drawing her niece to her, and kissing her transparent brow,
"if I say that, in the self-denial, patience, and submission you are now
practising, you are doing more, towards raising your character in my
estimation, and banishing from remembrance the painful past, than you
once fancied it would ever be in your power to do. I think I know its
motive, and therefore I do not hesitate to bestow the meed of praise you
so well deserve."
For a minute Ellen replied not, she only raised her aunt's hand to her
lips and kissed it, as if to hide her emotion before she spoke, but her
eyes were still swelling with tears as she looked up and
replied--"Indeed, my dearest aunt, I do not deserve it. You do not know
how irritable and ill-tempered I often feel."
"Because you are not very well, my love, and yet you do not feel
sufficiently ill to complain. I sometimes fancy such a state of health
as yours is more difficult to bear than a severe though short illness,
then, you can, at least, claim soothing consolation and sympathy. Now my
poor Ellen thinks she can demand neither," she added, smiling.
"I always receive both from you," replied Ellen, earnestly; "and not
much submission is required when that is the case, and I am told my
health forbids my sharing in Emmeline's pleasures."
"No, love, there would not be, if you felt so ill as to have no desire
for them; but that is not the case, for I know you very often feel quite
well enough to go out with me, and I am quite sure that my Ellen
sometimes wishes she were not so completely prohibited such amusements."
"I thought I had succeeded better in concealing those wishes," replied
Ellen, blushing deeply.
"So you have, my dear girl, no one but myself suspects them; and you
could not expect to conceal them from me, Ellen, could you, when
Emmeline says it is utterly impossible to hide her most secret thought
from my mystic wand? Do not attempt more, my love; persevere in your
present conduct, and I shall be quite satisfied. Have you an interesting
book for to-night, or is there any other employment you prefer?"
"You have banished all thoughts of gloom, my dear aunt, and perhaps,
instead of reading, I shall work and think on what you have said,"
exclaimed Ellen, her cheek becoming more crimsoned than it was before,
and exciting for the moment the attention of her aunt. She, however,
soon permitted it to pass from her thoughts, for she knew the least
emotion generally had that effect. Little did she imagine how those
solitary hours were employed. Little did she think the cause of that
deep blush, or guess the extent of comfort her words had bestowed on her
niece, how they cheered the painful task the orphan believed it her duty
to perform. Spite of many obstacles of failing health, she
perseveringly continued, although as yet she approached not the end of
her desires. No gleam of light yet appeared to say her toil was nearly
over, her wish obtained.
The limits of our tale, as well as the many histories of individuals
these memoirs of the Hamilton family must embrace, will not permit us to
linger on the scenes of gaiety in which Caroline now mingled, and which
afforded her, perhaps, too many opportunities for the prosecution of her
schemes; Miss Grahame's task was no longer difficult. Her confidence
once given to another, she could not recall to bestow it upon her
mother, from whom, the more she mingled in society, the more she became
estranged; and Annie became at once her confidant and adviser. Eager to
prove she was not the simple-minded being she was believed, Caroline
confided her designs, with regard to St. Eval, to Miss Grahame, who, as
may be supposed, heightened and encouraged them. Had any one pointed out
to Caroline she was acting with duplicity, departing from the line of
truth to which, even in her childhood, in the midst of many other
faults, she had beautifully and strictly adhered, she might have shrunk
back in horror; but where was the harm of a little innocent flirtation?
Annie would repeatedly urge, if she fancied a doubt of the propriety of
such conduct was rising in her friend's mind, and she was ready with
examples of girls of high birth and exemplary virtues who practised it
with impunity: it gave a finish to the character of a woman, proved she
would sometimes act for herself, not always be in leading-strings; it
gave a taste of power, gratified her ambition; in short, flirtation was
the very acme of enjoyment, and gave a decided _ton_ before and after
St. Eval was not sanguine. But it was in vain he tried to resist the
fascinations of the girl he loved, he could not for an instant doubt but
that she encouraged him; he even felt grateful, and loved her more for
those little arts and kindnesses with which she ever endeavoured to draw
him from his reserve, and chain him to her side. Could that noble spirit
imagine she only acted thus to afford herself amusement for the time,
and prove her power to her companions? Could she, the child of Mr. and
Mrs. Hamilton, act otherwise than honourably? We may pardon Lord St.
Eval for believing it impossible, but bitterly was he deceived. Even her
mother, her penetrating, confiding mother, was deceived, and no marvel
then that such should be the case with a comparative stranger.
Had Caroline's manner been more generally coquettish, Mrs. Hamilton's
eyes might have been opened; but her behaviour in general was such as
rather to diminish than increase those fears which, before her child had
joined the world, had very frequently occupied her anxious heart. To
strangers even, her encouragement of St. Eval might not have been
observable, though it was clearly so to the watchful eyes of her
parents, whose confidence in their daughter's integrity was such as
entirely to exonerate her in their minds from any intention of coquetry.
In this instance, perhaps, their regard for the young Earl himself, and
their mutual but secret wishes might have heightened their belief, that
not only was St. Eval attracted but that Caroline encouraged him, and
feeling this they regretted that Lord Alphingham should continue his
attentions, which Caroline never appeared to receive with any particular
Anxious as had been Mrs. Hamilton's feelings with regard to the
friendship subsisting between her daughter and Annie Grahame, she little
imagined how painfully the influence of the latter had already tarnished
the character of the former. Few are aware of the danger arising from
those very intimate connections which young women are so fond of
forming. Every mother should study, almost as carefully as those of her
own, the character of her children's intimate friends. Mrs. Hamilton had
done so, and as we know, never approved of Caroline's intimacy with
Annie, but yet she could not check their intercourse while such intimate
friendship existed between her husband and Montrose Grahame. She knew,
too, that the latter felt pleasure in beholding Caroline the chosen
friend of his daughter; and though she could never hope as Grahame did,
that the influence of her child would improve the character of his, she
had yet sufficient confidence in Caroline at one time to believe that
she would still consider her mother her dearest and truest friend, and
thus counteract the effects of Annie's ill-directed eloquence. In this
hope she had already found herself disappointed; but still, though
Caroline refused her sympathy, and bestowed it, as so many other girls
did, on a companion of her own age, she relied perhaps too fondly on
those principles she had so carefully instilled in early life, and
believed that no stain would sully the career of her much-loved child.
If Mrs. Hamilton's affection in this instance completely blinded her, if
she acted too weakly in not at once breaking this closely woven chain of
intimacy, her feelings, when she knew all, were more than sufficient
chastisement. Could the noble, the honourable, the truth-loving mother
for one instant imagine that Caroline, the child whose early years had
caused her so much pain, had called forth so many tearful prayers--the
child whose dawning youth had been so fair, that her heart had nearly
lost its tremblings--that her Caroline should encourage one young man
merely to indulge in love of power, and what was even worse, to thus
conceal her regard for another? Yet it was even so. Caroline really
believed that not only was she an object of passionate love to the
Viscount, but that she returned the sentiment with equal if not
heightened warmth, and, as the undeniable token of true love, she never
mentioned his name except to her confidant. In the first of these
conjectures she was undoubtedly right; as sincerely as a man of his
character could, Lord Alphingham did love Miss Hamilton, and the
fascination of his manner, his insinuating eloquence, and ever ready
flattery, all combined, might well cause this novice in such matters to
believe her heart was really touched; but that it truly was so not only
may we be allowed to doubt, but it appeared that Annie did so also, by
her laborious efforts to fan the newly ignited spark into a name, and
never once permit Caroline to look into herself; and she took so many
opportunities of speaking of those silly, weak-spirited girls, that went
with a tale of love directly to their mothers, and thus very frequently
blighted their hopes and condemned them to broken hearts, by their
duennas' caprices, that Caroline shrunk from the faintest wish to
confide all to her mother, with a sensation amounting almost to fear and
horror. Eminently handsome and accomplished as Lord Alphingham was,
still there was somewhat in his features, or rather their expression,
that did not please, and scarcely satisfied Mrs. Hamilton's penetration.
Intimate as he was with Grahame, friendly as he had become with her
husband, she could not overcome the feeling of repugance with which she
more than once found herself unconsciously regarding him; and she felt
pleased that Mr. Hamilton steadily adhered to his resolution in not
inviting him to his house. To have described what she disliked in him
would have been impossible, it was indefinable; but there was a casual
glance of that dark eye, a curl of that handsome mouth, a momentary
knitting of the brow, that whispered of a mind not inwardly at peace;
that restless passions had found their dwelling-place around his heart.
Mrs. Hamilton only saw him in society: it was uncharitable perhaps to
judge him thus; but the feelings of a mother had rendered her thus
acute, had endowed her with a penetration unusually perceptive, and she
rejoiced that Caroline gave him only the meed of politeness, and that no
sign of encouragement was displayed in her manner towards him.
That mother's fears were not unfounded. Lord Alphingham loved Caroline,
but the love of a libertine is not true affection, and such a character
for the last fourteen years of his life he had been; nine years of that
time he had lived on the Continent, gay, and courted, in whatever
country he resided, winning many a youthful heart to bid it break, or
lure it on to ruin. It was only the last year he had returned to
England, and as he had generally assumed different names in the various
parts of the Continent he had visited, the adventures of his life were
unknown in the land of his birth, save that they were sometimes
whispered by a few in similar coteries, and then more as conjecture than
reality. So long a time had elapsed, that the wild errors of his youth,
which had been perhaps the original cause of his leaving England, were
entirely forgotten, as if such things had never been, and the Viscount
now found himself quite as much, if not more, an object of universal
attraction in his native land than he had been on the Continent. He was
now about thirty, and perfect indeed in his vocation. The freshness,
_naivete_, and perfect innocence of Caroline had captivated his fancy
perhaps even more than it had ever been before, and her perfect
ignorance of the ways of the fashionable world encouraged him to hope
his conquest of her heart would be very easy. He had found an able
confidant and advocate in Miss Grahame, who had contrived to place
herself with her father's friend on the footing of most friendly
intimacy, and partly by her advice and the suggestions of his own heart
he determined to win the regard of Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, before he
openly paid attentions to their daughter. With the former he appeared
very likely to succeed, for the talent he displayed in the House, his
apparently earnest zeal for the welfare of his country, her church and
state, his masterly eloquence, and the interest he felt for Grahame,
were all qualities attractive in the eyes of Mr. Hamilton; and though he
did not yet invite him to his house, he never met him without evincing
pleasure. With Mrs. Hamilton, Alphingham did not find himself so much at
ease, nor fancy he was so secure; courteous she was indeed, but in her
intercourse with him she had unconsciously recalled much of what Grahame
termed the forbidding reserve of years past. In vain he attempted with
her to pass the barriers of universal politeness, and become intimate;
his every advance was repelled coldly, yet not so devoid of courtesy as
to make him suspect she had penetrated his secret character. Still he
persevered in unwavering and marked politeness, although Annie's
representations of Mrs. Hamilton's character had already caused him to
determine in his own mind to make Caroline his wife, with or without her
mother's approval; and he amused himself with believing that, as her
mother was so strict and stern as to keep her children, particularly
Caroline, in such subjection, it would be doing the poor girl a charity
to release her from such thraldom, and introduce her, as his wife, into
scenes far more congenial to her taste, where she would be free from
such keen _surveillance_. In these thoughts he was ably seconded by
Annie, who was constantly pitying Caroline's enslaved situation, and
condemning Mrs. Hamilton's strict severity, declaring it was all
affectation; she was not a degree better than any one else, who did not
make half the fuss about it. Lord Alphingham's resolution was taken,
that before the present season was over, Caroline should be engaged to
him, _nolens volens_ on the part of her parents, and he acted
As opposite as were the characters, so was the conduct of Caroline's two
noble suitors. St. Eval, spite of the encouragement he received, yet
shrunk from paying any marked attention either to Caroline or her
parents. It was by degrees he became intimate in their family, but
there, perhaps, the only person with whom he felt entirely at ease was
Emmeline, who, rejoicing at Caroline's change of manner, began to hope
her feelings were changing too, and indulged in hopes that one day Lord
St. Eval might really be her brother. Emmeline knew her sister's opinion
of coquetry was very different to hers; but this simple-minded girl
could never have conceived that scheme of duplicity, which, by the aid
and counsel of Annie, Caroline now practised. She scarcely ever saw
Alphingham, and never hearing her sister name him, and being perfectly
unconscious of his attentions when they met, she could not, even in her
unusually acute imagination, believe him St. Eval's rival. More and more
enamoured the young Earl became each time he felt himself an especial
object of Caroline's notice; his heart throbbed and his hopes grew
stronger, still he breathed not one word of love, he dared not.
Diffident of his own attractive qualities, he feared to speak, till he
thought he could be assured of her affections. In the intoxication of
love, he felt her refusal would have more effect upon him than he could
bear. He shrunk from the remarks of the world, and waited yet a little
longer, ere with a trembling heart he should ask that all-important
question. So matters stood in Mr. Hamilton's family during the greater
part of the London season; but as it is not our task to enter into
Caroline's gaieties, we here may be permitted to mention Mrs. Greville's
departure with her delicate and suffering child from the land of their
Mr. Greville had made no opposition to their intended plan. Seriously
Mr. Maitland had told him that the life of his child depended on her
residence for some time abroad, in a genial climate and extreme quiet;
but in vain did Mrs. Greville endeavour to believe that affection for
his daughter and herself occasioned this unwonted acquiescence; it was
too clearly to be perceived that he was pleased at their separation from
himself, for it gave him more liberty. She wrote to her son, imploring
him in the most earnest and affectionate manner to return home for the
Easter vacation, that she might see him for a few days before she left
England--perhaps never to return. Ruined from earliest boyhood by weak
indulgence, Alfred Greville felt sometimes a throb of natural feeling
for his mother, though her counsels were of no avail. Touched by the
mournful solemnity and deep affection breathing in every line, he
complied with her request, and spent four or five days peacefully at
home. He appeared shocked at the alteration he found in his sister, and
was kinder than he had previously been in his manner towards her. He had
lately become heir to a fortune and estate, left him by a very old and
distant relative of his father, and it was from this he had determined,
he told his father, to go to Cambridge and cut a dash there with the
best of them. He was now eighteen, and believed himself no
inconsiderable personage, in which belief he was warmly encouraged by
his mistaken father. It was strange that, with such an income, he
permitted the favourite residence of his mother and sister to be
sold--but so it was. The generous feelings of his early childhood had
been completely blunted, and to himself alone he intended to appropriate
that fortune, when a portion would yet have removed many of Mrs.
Greville's anxious fears for the future. Alfred intended, when he was of
age, to be one of the first men of fashion; but he did not consider,
that if he "cut a dash" at college, with the _eclat_ he wished, that
before three years had passed, he would not be much richer than he had
been when the fortune was first left him.
"Mother, you will drive me from you," he one day exclaimed, in passion,
as she endeavoured to detain him. "If you wish ever to see me, let me
take my own way. Advice I will not brook, and reproach I will not bear;
if you love me, be silent, for I will not be governed."
"Alfred, I will speak!" replied his almost agonized parent, urged on by
an irresistible impulse. "Child of my love, my prayers! Alfred, I will
not see you go wrong, without one effort, one struggle to guide you in
the right path. Alfred, I leave England--my heart is bursting; for
Mary's sake alone I live, and if she be taken from me, Alfred, we shall
never meet again. My son, oh, if you ever loved me, listen to me now,
they may be the last words you will ever hear from your mother's lips. I
implore, I beseech you to turn from your evil courses, Alfred!" and she
suddenly sunk at his feet, the mother before the son. So devoted, so
fervid was the love with which she regarded him, that had she been told,
that to lure him to virtue her own life must be the forfeit, willingly
at that moment would she have died. She continued with an eloquence of
such beseeching tenderness, it would have seemed none could have heard
it unmoved. "Alfred, your mother kneels to you, your own mother. Oh,
hear her; do not condemn her to wretchedness. Let me not suffer more.
You have sought temptation; oh, fly from it; seek the companionship of
those who will lead you to honour, not to vice. Break from those
connections you have weaved around you. Turn again to the God you have
deserted. Oh, do not live as you have done; think on the responsibility
each year increases. My child, my beloved, in mercy refuse not your
mother's prayer! reject not my advice, Alfred! Alfred!" and she clung to
him, while her voice became hoarse with intense anguish. "Oh, promise me
to turn from your present life. Promise me to think on my words, to
seek the footstool of mercy, and return again to Him who has not
forsaken you. Promise me to live a better life; say you will be your
mother's comfort, not her misery--her blessing, not her curse. My child,
my child, be merciful!" Longer, more imploring still would she have
pleaded, but voice failed, and it was only on those chiselled features
the agony of the soul could have been discovered. Alfred gazed on her
thus kneeling at his feet--his mother, she, who in his infancy had knelt
beside him, to guide on high his childish prayers. The heart of the
misguided boy was softened, tears filled his eyes. He would have spoken;
he would have pledged himself to do all that she had asked, when
suddenly the ridicule of his companions flashed before his fancy. Could
he bear that? No; he could see his mother at his feet, but he could not
meet the ridicule of the world. He raised her hastily, but in perfect
silence; pressed her to his heart, kissed her cheek repeatedly, then
placed her on a couch, and darted from her presence. He had said no
word, he had given no sign; and for several hours that mother could not
overcome internal wretchedness so far even as to join her Mary. He
returned to Cambridge. They parted in affection; seldom had the reckless
boy evinced so much emotion as he did when he bade farewell to his
mother and sister. He folded Mary to his bosom, and implored her, in a
voice almost inaudible, to take care of her own health for the sake of
their mother; but when she entreated him to come and see them in their
new abode as soon as he could, he answered not. Yet that emotion had
left a balm on the torn heart of his mother. She fancied her son,
wayward as he was, yet loved her; and though she dared not look forward
to his reformation, still, to feel he loved her--oh, if fresh zeal were
required in her prayers, that knowledge gave it.
The first week in May they left Greville Manor. Still weak and
suffering, the struggle to conceal and subdue all she felt at leaving,
as she thought for ever, the house of her infancy, of her girlhood, her
youth, was almost too much for poor Mary; and her mother more than once
believed she would not reach in life the land they were about to seek.
The sea breezes, for they travelled whenever they could along the shore,
in a degree nerved her; and by the time they reached Dover, ten days
after they had left the Manor, she had rallied sufficiently to ease the
sorrowing heart of her mother of a portion of its burden.
They arrived at Dover late in the evening, and early the following day,
as Mary sat by the large window of the hotel, watching with some
appearance of interest the bustling scene before her, a travelling
carriage passed rapidly by and stopped at the entrance. She knew the
livery, and her heart throbbed almost to suffocation, as it whispered
that Mr. Hamilton would not come alone.
"Mother, Mr. Hamilton has arrived," she succeeded at length in saying.
"And Emmeline--is it, can it be?" But she had no more time to wonder,
for ere she had recovered the agitation the sight of one other of Mr.
Hamilton's family had occasioned, they were in the room, and Emmeline
springing forward, had flung herself on Mary's neck; and utterly unable
to control her feelings at the change she beheld in her friend, wept
passionately on her shoulder. Powerfully agitated, Mary felt her
strength was failing, and had it not been for Mr. Hamilton's support,
she would have fallen to the ground. He supported her with a father's
tenderness to the couch, and reproachfully demanded of Emmeline if she
had entirely forgotten her promise of composure.
"Do not reprove her, my dear friend," said Mrs. Greville, as she drew
the weeping girl affectionately to her. "My poor Mary is so quickly
agitated now, that the pleasure of seeing three instead of one of our
dear-valued friends has been sufficient of itself to produce this
agitation. And you, too, Herbert," she continued, extending her hand to
the young man, who hastily raised it to his lips, as if to conceal an
emotion which had paled his cheek, almost as a kindred feeling had done
with Mary's. "Have you deserted your favourite pursuits, and left Oxford
at such a busy time, merely to see us before we leave? This is kind,
"I left Percy to work for me," answered Herbert, endeavouring to hide
emotion under the veil of gaiety. "As to permit you to leave England
without once more seeing you, and having one more smile from Mary, I
would not, even had the whole honour of my college been at stake. You
must not imagine me so entirely devoted to my hooks, dear Mrs. Greville,
as to believe I possess neither time nor inclination for the gentler
feelings of human nature."
"I know you too well, and have known you too long, to imagine that,"
replied Mrs. Greville, earnestly. "And is Mary so completely to engross
your attention, Emmeline," she added, turning towards the couch where
the friends sat, "that I am not to hear a word of your dear mother,
Caroline, or Ellen? Indeed, I cannot allow that."
The remark quickly produced a general conversation, and Herbert for the
first time addressed Mary. A strange, unconquerable emotion had chained
his tongue as he beheld her; but now, with eager yet respectful
tenderness, he inquired after her health, and how she had borne their
long journey, and other questions, trifling in themselves, but uttered
in a tone that thrilled the young heart of her he addressed.
Herbert knew not how intimately the image of Mary Greville had mingled
with his most secret thoughts, even in his moments of grave study and
earnest application, until he heard she was about to leave England.
Sorrow, disappointment, scarcely defined but bitterly painful, then
occupied his mind, and the knowledge burst with dazzling clearness on
his heart that he loved her; so deeply, so devotedly, that even were
every other wish fulfilled, life, without her, would be a blank. He had
deemed himself so lifted above all earthly feelings, that even were he
to be deprived as Mr. Morton of every natural relation, he could in time
reconcile himself to the will of his Maker, and in the discharge of
ministerial duties be happy. He had fancied his heart was full of the
love of God alone, blessed in that, however changed his earthly lot.
Suddenly he was awakened from his illusion: now in the hour of
separation he knew an earthly idol; he discovered that he was not so
completely the servant of his Maker as he had hoped, and sometimes
believed. But in the doubts and fears which shadowed his exalted mind,
he sought the footstool of his God. His cry for assistance was not
unheeded. Peace and comfort rested on his heart. A cloud was lifted
from his eyes, and for the knowledge of his virtuous love he blessed his
God; feeling thus supported he could guide and control himself according
to the dictates of piety. He knew well the character of Mary; he felt
assured that, if in after years he were permitted to make her his own,
she would indeed become his helpmate in all things, more particularly in
those which related to his God and to his holy duties among men. He
thought on the sympathy that existed between them--he remembered the
lighting up of that soft, dark eye, the flushing cheek, the smile of
pleasure that ever welcomed him, and fondly his heart whispered that he
need not doubt her love. Three years, or nearly four must elapse ere he
could feel at liberty to marry; not till he beheld himself a minister of
God. Yet interminable as to his imagination the intervening years
appeared, still there was no trembling in his trusting heart. If his
Father on high ordained them for each other, it mattered not how long
the time that must elapse, and if for some wise purpose his wishes were
delayed, he recognised the hand of God, and saw "that it was good."
Yet Herbert could not resist the impulse to behold Mary once more ere
she quitted England to explain to her his feelings; to understand each
other. He knew the day his father intended going to Dover, and the
evening previous, much to the astonishment of his family, made his
appearance amongst them. All expressed pleasure at his intention but
one, and that one understood not why; but when she heard the cause of
his unexpected visit, a sudden and indefinable pang shot through her
young heart, dimming at once the joy with which the sight of him had
filled it. She knew not, guessed not why, when she laid her head on her
pillow that night, she wept so bitterly. The source of those secret and
silent tears she could not trace, she only knew their cause was one of
sorrow, and yet she loved Mary.
The pleading earnestness of Emmeline had, after some little difficulty,
obtained the consent of her mother to her accompanying her father and
brother, on condition, however, of her not agitating Mary by any
unconstrained display of sorrow. It was only at their first meeting this
condition had been forgotten. Mary looked so pale, so thin, so different
even to when they parted, that the warm heart of Emmeline could not be
restrained, for she knew, however resignation might be, nay, was felt,
it was a bitter pang to that gentle girl to leave her native land, and
the friends she so much loved; but recalling her promise, with a strong
effort she checked her own sorrow, and endeavoured with playful fondness
to raise the spirits of her friend.
The day passed cheerfully, the young people took a drive for some few
miles in the vicinity of Dover, while Mr. Hamilton, acting the part of a
brother to the favourite _protegee_ of his much-loved mother, listened
to her plans, counselled and improved them, and, indeed, on many points
proved himself such a true friend, that when Mrs. Greville retired to
rest that night, she felt more at ease in mind than for many months she
The following day was employed in seeing the antiquities of Dover, its
ancient castle among the first, and with Mr. Hamilton as a cicerone, it
was a day of pleasure to all, though, perhaps, a degree of melancholy
might have pervaded the party in the evening, for the recollection would
come, that by noon on the morrow, Mrs. Greville and Mary would bid them
farewell. In vain during that day had Herbert sought for an opportunity
to speak with Mary on the subject nearest his heart, though they had
been so happy together; when for a few minutes they found themselves
alone, he had fancied there was more than usual reserve in Mary's
manner, which checked the words upon his lip. Some hours he lay awake
that night. Should he write his hopes and wishes? No: he would hear the
answer from her own lips, and the next morning an opportunity appeared
to present itself.
The vessel did not leave Dover till an hour before noon, and breakfast
having been despatched by half-past nine, Mrs. Greville persuaded her
daughter to take a gentle walk in the intervening time. Herbert
instantly offered to escort her. Emmeline remained to assist Mrs.
Greville in some travelling arrangements, and Mr. Hamilton employed
himself in some of those numberless little offices which active men take
upon themselves in the business of a departure. Mary shrunk with such
evident reluctance from this arrangement, that for the first time
"You were not wont to shrink thus from accepting me as your companion,"
he said, fixing his large expressive eyes mournfully upon her, and
speaking in a tone of such melancholy sweetness, that Mary hastily
struggled to conceal the tear that started to her eye. "Are our happy
days of childhood indeed thus forgotten?" he continued, gently. "Go with
me, dear Mary; let us in fancy transport ourselves at least for one
hour back to those happy years of early life which will not come again."
The thoughts, the hopes, the joys of her childhood flashed with sudden
power through the heart of Mary as he spoke, and she resisted them not.
"Forgive me, Herbert," she said, hastily rising to prepare; "I have
become a strange and wayward being the last few months; you must bear
with me, for the sake of former days."
Playfully he granted the desired forgiveness, and they departed on their
walk. For some little time they walked in silence. Before they were
aware of it, a gentle ascent conducted them to a spot, not only lovely
in its own richness, but in the extensive view that stretched beneath
them. The wide ocean lay slumbering at their feet; the brilliant rays of
the sun, which it reflected as a mirror, appeared to lull it to rest,
the very waves broke softly on the shore. To the left extended the
snow-white cliffs, throwing in shadow part of the ocean, and bringing
forward their own illumined walls in bold relief against the dark blue
sea. Ships of every size, from the floating castle in the offing to the
tiny pleasure boat, whose white sails shining in the sun caused her to
be distinguished at some distance, skimming along the ocean as a bird of
snowy plumage across the heavens, the merchant vessels, the packets
entering and departing, even the blackened colliers, added interest to
the scene; for at the distance Herbert and Mary stood, no confusion was
heard to disturb the moving picture. On their right the beautiful
country peculiar to Kent spread out before them in graceful undulations
of hill and valley, hop-ground and meadow, wherein the sweet fragrance
of the newly-mown grass was wafted at intervals to the spot where they
stood. Wild flowers of various kinds were around them; the hawthorn
appearing like a tree of snow in the centre of a dark green hedge; the
modest primrose and the hidden violet yet lingered, as if loth to
depart, though their brethren of the summer had already put forth their
budding blossoms. A newly-severed trunk of an aged tree invited them to
sit and rest, and the most tasteful art could not have placed a rustic
seat in a more lovely scene.
Long and painfully did Mary gaze around her, as if she would engrave
within her heart every scene of the land she was so soon to leave.
"Herbert," she said, at length, "I never wished to gaze on futurity
before, but now, oh, I would give much to know if indeed I shall ever
gaze on these scenes again. Could I but think I might return to them,
the pang of leaving would lose one half its bitterness. I know this is a
weak and perhaps sinful feeling; but in vain I have lately striven to
bow resignedly to my Maker's will, even should His call meet me, as I
sometimes fear it will, in a foreign land, apart from all, save one,
whom I love on earth."
"Do not, do not think so, dearest Mary. True, indeed, there is no
parting without its fears, even for a week, a day, an hour. Death ever
hovers near us, to descend when least expected. But oh, for my sake,
Mary, dear Mary, talk not of dying in a foreign land. God's will is
best, His decree is love; I know, I feel it, and on this subject from
our infancy we have felt alike; to you alone have I felt that I dared
breathe the holy aspirations sometimes my own. I am not wont to be
sanguine, but somewhat whispers within me you will return--these scenes
Mary gazed on her young companion, he had spoken with unwonted
animation, and his mild eye rested with trusting fondness upon her; she
dared not meet it; her pale cheek suddenly became crimson, but with an
effort she replied--
"Buoy me not up with vain hopes, Herbert; it is better, perhaps, that I
should never look to my return, for hope might descend to vain wishes,
and wishes to repinings, which must not be. I shall look on other scenes
of loveliness, and though in them perhaps no fond association of earth
may be mingled, yet there is one of which no change of country can
deprive me, one association that from scenes as these can never never
fly. The friends of my youth will be no longer near me, strangers alone
will surround me; but even as the hand of my Heavenly Father is marked
in every scene, however far apart, so is that hand, that love extended
to me wherever I may dwell. Oh, that my heart may indeed be filled with
the love of Him."
There was a brief silence. The countenance of Herbert had been for a
moment troubled, but after a few seconds resumed its serenity,
heightened by the fervid feelings of his heart.
"Mary," he said, taking her passive hand in his, "if I am too bold in
speaking all I wish, forgive me. You know not how I have longed for one
moment of unchecked confidence before you left England, it is now before
me, and, oh, listen to me, dearest Mary, with that kindness you have
ever shown. I need not remind you of our days of childhood and early
youth; I need not recall the mutual sympathy which, in every feeling,
hope, joy, or sorrow, has been our own. We have grown together, played
together in infancy; read, thought, and often in secret prayed together
in youth. To you I have ever imparted my heartfelt wishes, earnest
prayers for my future life, to become a worthy servant of my God, and
lead others in his path, and yet, frail mortal as I am, I feel, even if
these wishes are fulfilled, there will yet, dearest Mary, remain a void
within my heart. May I, may I, indeed, behold in the playmate of my
infancy a friend in manhood, the partner of my life--my own Mary as my
assistant in labours of love? I am agitating you, dearest girl, forgive
me; only give me some little hope. Years must elapse ere that blessed
moment can arrive, perhaps I have been wrong to urge it now, but I could
not part from you without one word to explain my feelings, to implore
your ever-granted sympathy."
The hand of Mary trembled in his grasp. She had turned from his pleading
glance, but when he ceased, she raised her head and struggled to speak.
A smile, beautiful, holy in its beauty, appeared struggling with tears,
and a faint flush had risen to her cheek, but voice she had none, and
for one moment she concealed her face on his shoulder. She withdrew not
her hand from his, and Herbert felt--oh, how gratefully--that his love
was returned; he had not hoped in vain. For some minutes they could not
speak, every feeling was in common; together they had grown, together
loved, and now that the magic word had been spoken, what need was there
for reserve? none; and reserve was banished. No darkening clouds were
then perceived; at that moment Mary thought not of her father, and if
she did, could she believe that his consent to an union with a son of
Mr. Hamilton would be difficult to obtain. Marry they could not yet, and
perhaps the unalloyed bliss of that hour might have originated in the
fact that they thought only of the present--the blessed knowledge that
they loved each other, were mutually beloved.
The happiness glowing on Mary's expressive countenance as she entered
could not fail to attract the watchful eye of her mother, and almost
unconsciously, and certainly indefinably, her own bosom reflected the
pleasure of her child, and the pang of quitting England was partially
eased of its bitterness. Yet still it was a sorrowful moment when the
time of separation actually came. Their friends had gone on board with
them, and remained till the signal for departure was given. Mary had
preferred the cabin to the confusion on deck, and there her friends left
her. In the sorrow of that moment Emmeline's promise of composure was
again forgotten; she clung weeping to Mary's neck, till her father, with
gentle persuasion, drew her away, and almost carried her on deck.
Herbert yet lingered; they were alone in the cabin, the confusion
attendant on a departure preventing all fear of intruders. He clasped
Mary to his heart, in one long passionate embrace, then hastily placing
the trembling girl in the arms of her mother, he murmured almost
"Mrs. Greville, dearest Mrs. Greville, guard, oh, guard her for me, she
will be mine; she will return to bless me, when I may claim and can
cherish her as my wife. Talk to her of me; let not the name of Herbert
be prohibited between you. I must not stay, yet one word more, Mrs.
Greville--say, oh, say you will not refuse me as your son, if three
years hence Mary will still be mine. Say your blessing will hallow our
union; and oh, I feel it will then indeed be blessed!"
Overpowered with sudden surprise and unexpected joy, Mrs. Greville gazed
for a moment speechlessly on the noble youth before her, and vainly the
mother struggled to speak at this confirmation of her long-cherished
hopes and wishes.
"Mother," murmured Mary, alarmed at her silence, and burying her face in
her bosom, "mother, will you not speak, will you not bid us hope?"
"God in Heaven bless you, my children!" she at length exclaimed,
bursting into tears of heartfelt gratitude and joy. "It was joy, joy,"
she repeated, struggling for composure; "I expected not this blessing.
Yes, Herbert, we will speak of you, think of you, doubt us not, my son,
my dear son. A mother's protecting care and soothing love will guard
your Mary. She is not only her mother's treasure now. Go, my beloved
Herbert, you are summoned; farewell, and God bless you!"
Herbert did not linger with his father and sister; a few minutes private
interview with the former caused his most sanguine hopes to become yet
stronger, then travelling post to London, where he only remained a few
hours, returned with all haste to his college. In his rapid journey,
however, he had changed his mind with regard to keeping what had passed
between himself and Mary a secret from his mother, whom he yet loved
with perhaps even more confiding fondness than in his boyhood. He saw
her alone; imparted to her briefly but earnestly all that had passed,
implored her to promise consent, and preserve his confidence even from
his brothers and sisters; as so long a time must elapse ere they could
indeed be united, that he dreaded their engagement being known.
"Even the good wishes of the dear members of home," he said, "would
sound, I fear, but harshly on my ear. I cannot define why I do not wish
it known even to those I love; yet, dearest mother, indulge me. The
events of one day are hidden from us; how dark then must be those of
three years. No plighted promise has passed between us; it is but the
confidence of mutual love; and that--oh, mother, I could not bear it
torn from the recesses of my own breast to be a subject of conversation
even to those dearest to me."
His mother looked on the glowing countenance of her son; on him, who
from, his birth had never by his conduct given her one single moment of
care, and had she even disapproved of his secrecy, all he asked would
have been granted him; but she approved of his resolution, and emotion
glistened in her eye, as she said--
"My Herbert, if I had been privileged to select one among my young
friends to be your wife, my choice would have fallen, without one
moment's hesitation, on Mary Greville. She, amid them all, I deem most
worthy to be the partner of my son. May Heaven in mercy spare you to
Herbert returned to college, and resumed his studies with even greater
earnestness than, before. His unrestrained confidence had been as balm
to his mother's heart, and soothed the bitter pain it was to behold, to
feel assured, for it was no longer fancy, that the confidence of
Caroline was indeed utterly denied her and bestowed upon another. Yet
still Mrs. Hamilton fancied Caroline loved St. Eval; her eyes had not
yet been opened to the enormity of her daughter's conduct. Nor were they
till, after a long struggle of fervid love with the tremblings natural
to a fond but reserved and lowly heart, St. Eval summoned courage to
offer hand, heart, and fortune to the girl he loved (he might well be
pardoned for the belief that she loved him), and was rejected, coldly,
The young Earl had received the glad sanction of Mr. Hamilton to make
his proposals to his daughter. There had never been, nor was there now,
anything to damp his hopes. He was not, could not be deceived in the
belief that Caroline accepted, nay, demanded, encouraged his attention.
Invariably kind, almost fascinating in her manner, she had ever singled
him out from the midst of many much gayer and more attractive young men.
She had given him somewhat more to love each time they parted; and what
could this mean, but that she cared for him more than for others? Again
and again St. Eval pondered on the encouragement he could not doubt but
that he received; again and again demanded of himself if he were not
playing with her feelings thus to defer his proposals. Surely she loved
him. The sanction of her parents had heightened his hopes, and love and
confidence in the truth, the purity of his beloved one obtained so much
ascendancy over his heart, that when the important words were said, he
had almost ceased to fear. How bitter, how agonizing then must have been
his disappointment when he was refused--when sudden haughtiness beamed
on Caroline's noble brow, and coldness spread over every feature. And
yet, could he doubt it? No; triumph was glittering in her sparkling eye;
in vain he looked for sympathy in his disappointment, if love were
denied him. He gazed on her, and the truth suddenly flashed on his mind;
he marked the triumph with which she heard his offer; no softening
emotion was in her countenance. In vain he tried to ascribe its
expression to some other feeling; it was triumph, he could not be
deceived; and with agony St. Eval discovered that the being he had
almost worshipped was not the faultless creature he had believed her;
she had played with his feelings; she had encouraged him, heightened his
love, merely to afford herself amusement. The visions of hope, of fancy
were rudely dispelled, and perhaps at that moment it was better for his
peace that he suddenly felt she was beneath his love; she was not worthy
to be his wife. He no longer esteemed; and if love itself were not
utterly snapped asunder, the loss of esteem enabled him to act in that
interview with pride approaching to her own. He reproached her not: no
word did he utter that could prove how deeply he was wounded, and thus
add to the triumph so plain to be perceived. That she had sunk in his
estimation she might have seen, but other feelings prevented her
discovering how deeply. Had she veiled her manner more, had she rejected
him with kindness, St. Eval might still have loved, and imagined that
friendship and esteem had actuated her conduct towards him. Yet those
haughty features expelled this thought as soon as it arose. It was on
the night of a gay assembly St. Eval had found an opportunity to speak
with Caroline, and when both rejoined the gay crowd no emotion was
discernible in the countenance of either. St. Eval was the same to all
as usual. No one who might have heard his eloquent discussion on some
state affairs with the Russian consul could have imagined how painfully
acute were his sufferings; it was not only disappointed love--no, his
was aggravated bitterness; he could no longer esteem the object of his
love, he had found himself deceived, cruelly deceived, in one he had
looked on almost as faultless; and where is the pang that can equal one
like this? The heightened colour on Caroline's cheek, the increased
brilliancy of her eye, attracted the admiration of all around her, the
triumph of power had indeed been achieved. But when she laid her head on
her pillow, when the silence and darkness of night brought the past to
her mind more vividly, in vain she sought forgetfulness in sleep. Was it
happiness, triumph, that bade her bury her face in her hands and weep,
weep till almost every limb became convulsed by her overpowering
emotion? Her thoughts were undefined, but so painful, that she was
glad--how glad when morning came. She compared her present with her
former self, and the contrast was misery; but even as her ill-fated aunt
had done, she summoned pride to stifle every feeding of remorse.
Mr. Hamilton had given his sanction to the addresses of Lord St. Eval to
his daughter; but he knew not when, the young man intended to place the
seal upon his fate. Great then was his astonishment, the morning
following the evening we have mentioned, when St. Eval called to bid him
farewell, as he intended, he said, leaving London that afternoon for his
father's seat, where he should remain perhaps a week, and then quit
England for the Continent. He spoke calmly, but there was a paleness of
the cheek, a dimness of the eye, that told a tale of inward
wretchedness, which the regard of Mr. Hamilton could not fail instantly
to discover. Deeply had he become interested in the young man, and the
quick instinct combined with the fears of a father, told him that the
conduct of Caroline had caused this change. He looked at the expressive
countenance of the young Earl for a few minutes, then placing his hand
on his shoulder, said kindly, but impressively--
"St. Eval, you are changed, as well as your plans. You are unhappy. What
has happened? Have your too sensitive feelings caused you to fancy
"Would to heaven it were only fancy!" replied St. Eval, with unwonted
emotion, and almost convulsively clenching both hands as if for
calmness, added more composedly, "I have been too presumptuous in my
hopes; I fancied myself beloved by your beautiful daughter, but I have
found myself painfully mistaken."
Sternness gathered on the brow of the father as he heard, and he
answered, with painful emphasis--
"St. Eval, deceive me not, I charge you. In what position do you now
stand with Caroline?"
"Briefly, then, if I must speak, in the humble character of a rejected,
scornfully rejected lover." His feelings carried him beyond control. The
triumph he had seen glittering so brightly in the eyes of Caroline had
for the time turned every emotion into gall. He shrunk from the agony it
was to find he was deceived in one whom he had believed so perfect.
"Scorn! has a daughter of mine acted thus? Encourage, and then scorn.
St. Eval, for pity's sake, tell me! you are jesting; it is not of
Caroline you speak." So spoke the now agonized father, for every hope of
his child's singleness of mind and purity of intention appeared at once
blighted. He grasped St. Eval's hand, and looked on him with eyes from
which, in the deep disappointment of his heart, all sternness had fled.
"I grieve to cause you pain, my dear friend," replied the young Earl,
entering at once into the father's feelings, "but it is even so. Your
daughter has only acted as many, nay, as the majority of her sex are
fond of doing. It appears that you, too, have marked what might be
termed the encouragement she gave me. My self-love is soothed, for I
might otherwise have deemed my hopes were built on the unstable
foundation of folly and presumption."
"And condemnation of my child is the fruit of your self-acquittal, St.
Eval, is it not? You despise her now as much as you have loved her," and
Mr. Hamilton paced the room with agitation.
"Would almost that I could!" exclaimed St. Eval; the young Earl then
added, despondingly, "no, I deny not that your child has sunk in my
estimation; I believed her exalted far above the majority of her sex;
that she, apparently all softness and truth, was incapable of playing
with the most sacred feelings of a fellow-creature. I looked on her as
faultless; and though the veil has fallen from my eyes, it tells me that
if in Caroline Hamilton I am deceived, it is useless to look for
perfection upon earth. Yet I cannot tear her image from my heart. She
has planted misery there which I cannot at present overcome; but if that
triumph yields her pleasure, and tends to her happiness, be it so; my
farther attention shall no longer annoy her."
Much disturbed, Mr. Hamilton continued to pace the room, then hastily
approaching the young Earl, he said, hurriedly--
"Forget her, St. Eval, forget her; rest not till you have regained your
peace. My disappointment, that of her mother--our long-cherished hopes,
but it is useless to speak of them, to bring them forward, bitter as
they are, in comparison with yours. Forget her, St. Eval; she is
unworthy of you," and he wrung his hand again and again, as if in that
pressure he could conquer and conceal his feelings. At that instant
Emmeline bounded joyfully into the room, unconscious that any one was
with her father, and only longing to tell him the delightful news that
she had received a long, long letter from Mary, telling her of their
safe arrival at Geneva, at which place Mrs. Greville intended to remain
for a few weeks, before she proceeded more southward.
"Look, dear papa, is not this worth receiving?" she exclaimed, holding
up the well-filled letter, and looking the personification of innocent
and radiant happiness, her fair luxuriant hair pushed in disorder from
her open forehead and flushed cheek, her blue eyes sparkling with
irresistible glee, which was greatly heightened by her glowing smiles.
It was impossible to look on Emmeline without feeling every ruffled
emotion suddenly calmed; she was so bright, so innocent, so fair a
thing, that if peace and kindness had wished to take up their abode on
earth, they could not have found a fairer form wherein to dwell. As St.
Eval gazed upon the animated girl, he could not help contrasting her
innocent and light-hearted pleasure with his own unmitigated sorrow.
"Your presence and your joy are mistimed, my dear Emmeline; your father
appears engaged," said Mrs. Hamilton, entering almost directly after her
child, and perceiving by one glance at her husband's face that
something had chanced to disturb him. "Control these wild spirits for a
time till he is able to listen to you."
"Do not check her, my dear Emmeline, I am not particularly engaged. If
St. Eval will forgive me, I would gladly hear some news of our dear
"And pray let me hear it also. You know how interested I am in this dear
friend of yours, Emmeline," replied St. Eval, struggling with himself,
and succeeding sufficiently to speak playfully; for he and Emmeline had
contrived to become such great allies and intimate friends, that by some
sympathy titles of ceremony were seldom used between them, and they were
Eugene and Emmeline to each other, as if they were indeed brother and
Laughingly and delightedly Emmeline imparted the contents of her letter,
which afforded real pleasure both to Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, by the more
cheerful, even happier style in which she had written.
"Now do you not think I ought to be proud of my friend, Master Eugene?
is she not one worth having?" demanded Emmeline, sportively appealing to
the young Earl, as she read to her father some of Mary's affectionate
expressions and wishes in the conclusion.
"So much so, that I am seized with an uncontrollable desire to know her,
and if you will only give me a letter of introduction, I will set off
for Geneva next week."
Emmeline raised her laughing eyes to his face, with an expression of
"A most probable circumstance," she said, laughing; "no, Lord St. Eval,
you will not impose thus on my credulity. Eugene St. Eval, the most
courted, flattered, and distinguished, leave London before the season
"I thank you for the pretty compliments you are showering on me, my
little fairy friend, but it is nevertheless true. I leave England for
the Continent next week, and I may as well bend my wandering steps to
Geneva as elsewhere."
"But what can you possibly be going on the Continent again for? I am
sure, by all the anecdotes you have told me, you must have seen all that
is worth seeing, and so why should poor England again be deserted by one
of the ablest of her sons?"
"Emmeline!" exclaimed her mother, in an accent of warning and reproach,
which brought a deep crimson flush to her cheek, and caused her eyes to
glisten, for Mrs. Hamilton had marked that all was not serene on the
countenance of the Earl, and her heart beat with anxious alarm; for she
knew his intentions with regard to Caroline, and all she beheld and
heard, startled, almost terrified her. Lord St. Eval certainly looked a
little disturbed at Emmeline's continued questions, and perceiving it,
she hesitatingly but frankly said--
"I really beg your pardon, my lord, for my unjustifiable curiosity;
mamma is always reproving me for it, and certainly I deserve her lecture
now. But will you really find out Mary, and be the bearer of a small
parcel for me?"
"With the greatest pleasure; for it will give me an object, which I had
not before, and a most pleasing one, if I may hope your friend will not
object to my intrusion."
"A friend of mine will ever be warmly welcomed by Mary," said Emmeline,
with eagerness, but checking herself.
"Then may I hope you will continue to regard me as your friend, and
still speak of me as Eugene, though perhaps a year or more may pass
before you see me again?" demanded the young Earl, somewhat sadly,
glancing towards Mrs. Hamilton, as if for her approval.
"As my brother Eugene--yes," answered Emmeline, quickly, and perhaps
archly. A shadow passed over his brow.
"As your _friend_" he repeated, laying an emphasis on the word, which to
any one less innocent of the world than Emmeline, would at once have
excited their suspicion, and which single word at once told Mrs.
Hamilton that all her cherished hopes were blighted. She read
confirmation in her husband's countenance, and for a few minutes stood
"I leave town in a few hours for my father's seat," added St. Eval,
turning to Mrs. Hamilton. "I may amuse myself by taking Devonshire in my
way, or rather going out of my way for that purpose. Have you any
commands at Oakwood that I can perform?"
Mrs. Hamilton answered thankfully in the negative, but Emmeline
"I have a good mind to make you bearer of a letter and a _gage d'amour_
to my good old nurse; she will be so delighted to hear of me, and her
postman a nobleman. Poor nurse will have food for conversation and
pleasurable reflection till we return."
"Anything you like, only make me of use; and let me have it in an hour's
time, or perhaps I can give you two."
"One will be all-sufficient; but what a wonderful desire to be useful
has seized you all in a minute," replied Emmeline, whose high spirits
appeared on that day utterly uncontrollable, and she ran on unmindful of
her mother's glance. "But if I really do this, I must bid you farewell
at once, or I shall have no time. Think of me, if anything extraordinary
meets your eye, or occurs to you, and treasure it up for my information,
as you know my taste for the marvellous. My letter to Mary shall be
forwarded to you, for I really depend on your seeking her, and telling
her all about us; and now, then, with every wish for your pleasant
journey, I must wish you good-bye."
"Good-bye, dear, happy Emmeline," he said, with earnestness. "May you be
as light-hearted and joyous, and as kind, when we meet again as now; may
I commission you with my warmest remembrances and kind adieus to your
cousin, whom I am sorry I have not chanced to see this morning?"
"They shall be duly delivered," answered Emmeline, and kissing her hand
gaily in adieu, she tripped lightly out of the room, and St. Eval
instantly turned towards Mrs. Hamilton.
"In this intention of leaving England for a few months, or perhaps a
year," he said, striving for calmness, but speaking in a tone of
sadness, "you will at once perceive that my cherished hopes for the
future are blighted. I will not linger on the subject, for I cannot yet
bear disappointment such as this with composure. Were I of different
mould, I might, spite of coldness and pride, continue my addresses; and
were you as other parents are, Caroline--Miss Hamilton might still be
mine; a fashionable marriage it would still be, but, thank God, such
will not be; even to bestow your child on one you might value more than
me, you would not trample on her affections, you would not consent that
she should be an unwilling bride, and I--oh! I could not--could not wed
with one who loved me not. My dream of happiness has ended--been
painfully dispelled; the blow was unexpected, and has found me
unprepared. I leave England, lest my ungoverned feelings should lead me
wrong. Mrs. Hamilton," he continued, more vehemently, "you understand my
peculiar feelings, and can well guess the tortures I am now enduring.
You know why I am reserved, because I dread the outbreak of emotion even
in the most trifling circumstances. Oh, to have been your son--" he
paused abruptly, and hurriedly paced the room. "Forgive me," he said,
more calmly. "Only say you approve of my resolution to seek change for a
short time, till I obtain self-government, and can behold her without
pain; say that I am doing right for myself. I cannot think."
"You are right, quite right," replied Mrs. Hamilton instantly, and her
husband confirmed her words. "I do approve your resolution, though
deeply, most deeply, I regret its cause, St. Eval. Your disappointment
is most bitter, but you grieve not alone. To have given Caroline to you,
to behold her your wife, would have fulfilled every fervent wish of
which she is the object. Not you alone have been deceived; her conduct
has been such as to mislead those who have known her from childhood. St.
Eval, she is not worthy of you."
Disappointed, not only at the blighting of every secret hope, not those
alone in which St. Eval was concerned, but every fond thought she had
indulged in the purity and integrity of her child, in which, though her
confidence had been given to another, she had still implicitly trusted,
the most bitter disappointment and natural displeasure filled that
mother's heart, and almost for the first time since their union Mr.
Hamilton could read this unwonted emotion, in one usually so gentle, in
her kindling eyes and agitated voice.
"Child of my heart, my hopes, my care, as she is, I must yet speak it,
forget her, Eugene; let not the thought of a deceiver, a coquette, debar
you from the possession of that peace which should ever be the portion
of one so truly honourable, so wholly estimable as yourself. You are
disappointed, pained; but you know not--cannot guess the agony it is to
find the integrity in which I so fondly trusted is as naught; that my
child, my own child, whom I had hoped to lead through life without a
stain, is capable of such conduct."
Emotion choked her voice. She had been carried on by the violence of her
feelings, and perhaps said more in that moment of excitement than she
either wished or intended.
St. Eval gazed on the noble woman before him with unfeigned admiration.
He saw the indignation, the displeasure which she felt; it heightened
the dignity of her character in his estimation; but he now began to
tremble for its effects upon her child.
"Do not, my dear Mrs. Hamilton," he said, with some hesitation, "permit
Miss Hamilton's rejection of me to excite your displeasure towards her.
If with me she could not be happy, she was right to refuse my hand. Let
me not have the misery of feeling I have caused dissension in a family
whose beautiful unity has ever bound me to it. Surely you would not urge
the affections of your child."
"Never," replied Mrs. Hamilton, earnestly. "I understand your fears,
but let them pass away. I shall urge nothing, but my duty I must do.
Much as I admire the exalted sentiments you express, I must equally
deplore the mistaken conduct of my child. She has wilfully sported with
the most sacred of human feelings. Once more I say, she is not worthy to
The indignation and strong emotion still lingering in her voice
convinced St. Eval that he might urge no more. Respectfully he took his
Mrs. Hamilton sat silently revolving in her mind all Caroline's late
conduct, but vainly endeavouring to discover one single good reason to
justify her rejection of St. Eval. In vain striving to believe all must
have been mistaken, she had not given him encouragement. That her
affections could have become secretly engaged was a thing so unlikely,
that even when Mrs. Hamilton suggested it, both she and her husband
banished the idea as impossible; for St. Eval alone had she evinced any
"You must speak to her, Emmeline, I dare not; for I feel too angry and
disappointed to argue calmly. She has deceived us; all your cares appear
to have been of no avail; all the watchful tenderness with which she had
been treated thus returned! I could have forgiven it, I would not have
said another word, if she had conducted herself towards him with
propriety; but to give him encouragement, such as all who have seen them
together must have remarked; to attract him by every winning art, to
chain him to her side, and then reject him with scorn. What could have
caused her conduct, but the wish to display her power, her triumph over
one so superior? Well might he say she had sunk in his estimation. Why
did we not question her, instead of thus fondly trusting in her
integrity? Emmeline, we have trusted our child too confidently, and thus
our reliance is rewarded."
Seldom, if ever, had Mrs. Hamilton seen her husband so disturbed; for
some little time she remained with him, and succeeded partly in soothing
his natural displeasure. She then left him to compose her own troubled
and disappointed feelings ere she desired the presence of her child.
Meanwhile, as the happy Emmeline went to prepare her little packet for
her dear old nurse, the thought suddenly arose that St. Eval had sent
his remembrances and adieus to Ellen only, he had not mentioned
Caroline; and unsophisticated as she was, this struck her as something
very strange, and she was not long in connecting this circumstance with
his sudden departure. Wild, sportive, and innocent as Emmeline was, she
yet possessed a depth of reflection and clearness of perception, which
those who only knew her casually might not have expected. She had marked
with extreme pleasure that which she believed the mutual attachment of
St. Eval and her sister; and with her ready fancy ever at work, had
indulged very often in airy visions, in which she beheld Caroline
Countess St. Eval, and mistress of that beautiful estate in Cornwall,
which she had heard Mrs. Hamilton say had been presented by the Marquis
of Malvern to his son on his twenty-first birthday. Emmeline had
indulged these fancies, and noticed the conduct of Caroline and St.
Eval till she really believed their union would take place. She had been
so delighted at the receipt of Mary's letter, that she had no time to
remember the young Earl's departure; but when she was alone, that truth
suddenly flashed across her mind, and another strange incident, though
at the time she had not remarked it, when she had said as her brother
she would remember him, he had repeated, with startling emphasis, "as
her _friend_." "What could it all mean?" she thought. "Caroline cannot
have rejected him? No, that is quite impossible. My sister would surely
not be such a practised coquette. I must seek her and have the mystery
solved. Surely she will be sorry St. Eval leaves us so soon."
Emmeline hastened first to Ellen, begging her to pack up the little
packet for Mrs. Langford, for she knew such an opportunity would be as
acceptable to her cousin as to herself; for Ellen never forgot the
humble kindness and prompt attention she had received from the widow
during her long and tedious illness; and by little offerings, and what
the good woman still more valued, by a few kind and playful lines, which
ever accompanied them, she endeavoured to prove her sense of Widow
In five minutes more Emmeline was in her sister's room. Caroline was
partly dressed as if for a morning drive, and her attendant leaving just
as her sister entered. She looked pale and more fatigued than usual,
from the gaiety of the preceding night. Happy she certainly did not
look, and forgetting in that sight the indignation which the very
supposition of coquetry in her sister had excited, Emmeline gently
approached her, and kissing her cheek, said fondly--
"What is the matter, dear Caroline? You look ill, wearied, and even
melancholy. Did you dance more than usual last night?"
"No," replied Caroline; "I believe not. I do not think I am more tired
than usual. But what do you come for, Emmeline? Some reason must bring
you here, for you are generally hard at work at this time of the day."
"My wits have been so disturbed by Mary's letter, that I have been
unable to settle to anything," replied her sister, laughing; "and to add
to their disturbance, I have just heard something so strange, that I
could not resist coming to tell you."
"Of what nature?"
"St. Eval leaves London to-day for Castle Malvern, and next week quits
England. Now is not that extraordinary?"
Caroline became suddenly flushed with crimson, which quickly receding,
left her even paler than before.
"She is innocent," thought Emmeline. "She loves him. St. Eval must have
behaved ill to her; and yet he certainly looked more sinned against than
"To-day: does he leave to-day?" Caroline said, at length, speaking, it
appeared, with effort, and turning to avoid her sister's glance.
"In little more than an hour's time; but I am sorry I told you, dear
Caroline, if the news has pained you."
"Pained me," repeated her sister, with returning haughtiness; "what can
you mean, Emmeline? Lord St. Eval is nothing to me."
"Nothing!" repeated the astonished girl. "Caroline, you are
incomprehensible. Why did you treat him with such marked attention if
you cared nothing for him?"
"For a very simple reason; because it gave me pleasure to prove that it
was in my power to do that for which other girls have tried in
vain--compel the proud lordly St. Eval to bow to a woman's will." Pride
had returned again. She felt the pleasure of triumphant power, and her
eyes sparkled and her cheek again flushed, but with a different emotion
to that she had felt before.
"Do you mean, then, that you have never loved him, and merely sported
with his feelings, for your own amusement? Caroline, I will not believe
it. You could not have acted with such cruelty; you do love him, but you
reject my confidence. I do not ask you to confide in me, though I did
hope I should have been your chosen friend; but I beseech, I implore
you, Caroline, only to say that you are jesting. You do love him."
"You are mistaken, Emmeline, never more so in your life. I have refused
his offered hand; if you wish my confidence on this subject, I give it
you. As he is a favourite of yours, I do not doubt your preserving his
secret inviolate. I might have been Countess of St. Eval, but my end was
accomplished, and I dismissed my devoted cavalier."
"And can you, dare you jest on such a subject?" exclaimed Emmeline,
indignantly. "Is it possible you can have wilfully acted thus? sported
with the feelings of such a man as St. Eval, laughed at his pain, called
forth his love to gratify your desire of power? Caroline, shame on you!"
"I am not in the habit of being schooled as to right and wrong by a
younger sister, nor will I put up with it now, Emmeline. I never
interfere with your conduct, and therefore you will, if you please, do
the same with me. I am not responsible to you for my actions, nor shall
I ever be," replied Caroline, with cold yet angry pride.
"But I will speak, when I know you have acted contrary to those
principles mamma has ever endeavoured to instill into us both," replied
Emmeline, still indignantly; "and you are and have been ever welcome to
remonstrate with me. I am not so weak as I once was, fearful to speak my
sentiments even when I knew them to be right. You have acted shamefully,
cruelly, Caroline, and I will tell you what I think, angry as it may
A haughty and contemptuous answer rose to Caroline's lips, but she was
prevented giving it utterance by the entrance of Martyn, her mother's
maid, with her lady's commands that Miss Hamilton should attend her in
"How provoking!" she exclaimed. "I expect Annie to call for me every
minute, and mamma will perhaps detain me half an hour;" and most
unwillingly she obeyed the summons.
"Annie," repeated Emmeline, when her sister had left the room,
"Annie--this is her work; if my sister had not been thus intimate with
her she never would have acted in this manner." And so disturbed was the
gentle girl at this confirmation of her fears, that it was some little
time before she could recover sufficient serenity to rejoin Ellen in
arranging the widow's packet.
Mrs. Langford had the charge of Oakwood during the absence of the
family, and Mrs. Hamilton, recollecting some affairs concerning the
village schools she wished the widow to attend to, was writing her
directions as Caroline entered, much to the latter's increased
annoyance, as her mother's business with her would thus be retarded, and
every minute drew the time of Annie's appointment nearer. She could
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