Графични страници
PDF файл

pated by me: The shock that it be, what have I to dread? The produced in me was, to my own engagement is accompanied with apprehension, a subject of surprise. certain conditions. Whether they I could not help perceiving that it be openly expressed or not, they was greater than the occasion would necessarily limit it. Her vows are justify. The pleasures of this in- binding on condition that the present tercourse were, in a moment, to be situation continues, and that anoravished from me. I was to part ther does not arise, previously to from my new friend, and when we marriage, by whose claims those of should again meet it was impossible the present lover will be justly suto foresee. It was then that I recol- perseded. lected her expressions, that assured But how shall I contend with this me that her choice was fixed upon unknown admirer? She is going another. If I saw her again, it whither it will not be possible for would probably be as a wife. The me to follow her. An interview of claims of friendship, as well as those a few hours is not sufficient to acof love, would then be swallowed up complish the important purpose by a superior and hateful obligation that I meditate; but even this is

But, though betrothed, she was now at an end. I shall speedily be not wedded. That was yet to come; forgotten by her. I have done nobut why should it be considered as thing that entitles me to a place in inevitable ? Our dispositions and her remembrance. While my rival views must change with circum- will be left at liberty to prosecute his stances. Who was he that Con- suit, I shall be abandoned to soli. stantia Davis had chosen ? Was tude, and have no other employ. he born to outstrip all competitors ment than to ruminate on the bliss in ardour and fidelity? We cannot that has eluded my grasp. If scope fail of chusing that which appears were allowed to my exertions, I to us most worthy of choice. He might hope that they would ulti. had hitherto been unrivalled; but mately be crowned with success; was not this day destined to intro. but, as it is, I am manacled and duce to her one, to whose merits powerless. The good would easily every competitor must yield ? He be reached, if my hands were at that would resign this prize, with freedom: now that they are fetout an arduous struggle, would, in- tered, the attainment is impossible, deed, be of all wretches the most But is it true that such is my forpusillanimous and feeble.

lorn condition? What is it that Why, said I, do I cavil at her irrecoverably binds me to this spot? present choice? I will maintain There are seasons of respite from that it does honour to her discern- my present occupations, in which I ment. She would not be that ac- commonly indulge myself in jour. complished being which she seems, neys. This lady's habitation is not if she had acted otherwise. It at an immeasurable distance from would be sacrilege to question the mine. It may be easily comprised rectitude of her conduct. The ob- within the sphere of my excursions ject of her choice was worthy. The Shall I want a motive or excuse for engagement of her heart in his fa- paying her a visit? Her father has vour was unavoidable, because her claimed to be better acquainted with experience had not hitherto pro- my uncle. The lady has intimated, duced one deserving to be placed in that the sight of me, at any future competition with him. As soon as period, will give her pleasure. This his superior is found, his claims will will furnish ample apology for vi. be annihilated. Has not this pro- siting their house. But why should pitious accident supplied the defects I delay my visit? Why not immeof her former observation ? But diately attend them on their way? soft! is she not betrothed ? If she if not on their whole journey, at least for a part of it? A journey flecting on the insufficiency of the in darkness is not unaccompanied ground on which it is built, instead with peril. Whatever be the cau- of being prompted to dismiss it, we tion or knowledge of their guide, become more forcibly attached to it. they cannot be supposed to surpass I had received little of the educamine, who have trodden this part of tion of design. I owed the formation the way so often, that my chamber of my character chiefly to accident. floor is scarcely more familiar to I shall not pretend to determine in me. Besides, there is danger, from what degree I was credulous or which, I am persuaded, my atten- superstitious. A belief, for which I dance would be a sufficient, an in- could not rationally account, I was dispensable safeguard.

sufficiently prone to consider as the I am unable to explain why I work of some invisible agent; as an conceived this journey to be attend. intimation from the great source of ed with uncommon danger. My existence and knowledge. My ima. mind was, at first, occupied with gination was vivid. My passions, the remoter consequences of this when I allowed them sway, were untimely departure, but my thoughts incontroulable. My conduct, as my gradually returned to the contem- feelings, was characterised by preplation of its immediate effects. cipitation and headlong energy. There were twenty miles to a fer. On this occasion I was eloquent ry, by which the travellers designed in my remonstrances. I could not to cross the river, and at which suppress my opinion, that unseen they expected to arrive at sun-rise danger lurked in their way. When the next morning. I have said that called upon to state the reasons of the intermediate way was plain and my apprehensions, I could only enu. direct. Their guide professed to be merate possibilities of which they thoroughly acquainted with it. were already apprised, but which From what quarter, then, could they regarded in their true light. danger be expected to arise ? It was I made bold enquiries into the imeasy to enumerate and magnify pos. portance of the motives that should sibilities; that a tree, or ridge, or induce them to expose themselves stone unobserved might overturn the to the least hazard. They could carriage; that their horse might not urge their horse beyond his real fail, or be urged, by some accident, to strength. They would be compelfight, were far from being impossi. led to suspend their journey for ble. Still they were such as justi- some time the next day. A few fied caution. My vigilance would, hours were all that they could hope at least, contribute to their security. to save by their utmost expedition. But I could not for a moment divest Were a few hours of such infinite myself of the belief, that my aid moment? was indispensable. As I pondered In these representations I was on this image my emotions arose to sensible that I had over-leaped the terror.

bounds of rigid decorum. It was All men are, at times, influenced not my place to weigh his motives by inexplicable sentiments. Ideas and inducements. My age and sihaunt them in spite of all their ef. tuation, in this family, rendered siforts to discard them. Preposses- lence and submission my peculiar sions are entertained, for which province. I had hitherto confined their reason is unable to discover myself within bounds of scrupulous any adequate cause. The strength propriety, but now I had suddenly of a belief, when it is destitute of lost sight of all regards but those any rational foundation, seems, of which related to the safety of the itself, to furnish a new ground for travellers. credulity. We first admit a pow. Mr. Davis regarded my veheerful persuasion, and then, from re- mence with suspicion. He eyed me with more attention than I had hi- sufficient for their preservation ? therto received from him. The My attendance would effectually obimpression which this unexpected viate the danger. interference made upon him, I was, This scheme possessed irresistiat the time, too much absorbed in ble attractions. I was thankful to other considerations to notice. It the danger for suggesting it. In the was afterwards plain that he sus- fervour of my conceptions, I was pected my zeal to originate in a willing to run to the world's end to passion for his daughter, which it show my devotion to the lady. I was by no means proper for him to could sustain, with alacrity, the fa.. encourage. If this idea occurred to tigue of many nights of travelling him, his humanity would not suffer and watchfulness. I should unM to generate indignation or resent- speakably prefer them to warmth ment in his bosom. On the con- and ease, if I could thereby extort trary, he treated my arguments from this lady a single phrase of with mildness, and assured me that gratitude or approbation. I had over-rated the inconveniences I proposed to them to bear them and perils of the journey. Some re. company, at least till the morning gard was to be paid to his daughlight. They would not listen to it. ter's ease and health. He did not Half my purpose was indeed ansbelieve them to be materially en- wered by the glistening eyes and dangered. They should make suit affectionate looks of Miss Davis, able provision of cloaks and caps but the remainder I was pertinaciagainst the inclemency of the air. ously bent on likewise accomplishHad not the occasion been extreme. ing. If Mr. Davis had not suspectly urgent, and of that urgency he ed my motives, he would probably alone could be the proper judge, he have been less indisposed to complishould certainly not consent to en. ance. As it was, however, his obdure even these trivial inconveni- jections were insuperable. They ences. “But you seem," continued earnestly insisted on my relinquishhe, “ chiefly anxious for my daugh- ing my design. My uncle, also, not ter's sake. There is, without doubt, seeing any thing that justified exa large portion of gallantry in your traordinary precautions, added his fears. It is natural and venial in a injunctions. I was conscious of my young man to take infinite pains for inability to show any sufficient the service of the ladies ; but, my grounds for my fears. As long as dear, what say you ? I will refer this their representations rung in my important question to your decision. ears, I allowed myself to be ashamShall we go, or wait till the morn- ed of my weakness, and conjured

up a temporary persuasion that my * Go, by all means," replied she, attendance was, indeed, superfluous, “ I confess the fears that have been and that I should show most wisexpressed appear to be groundless. dom in suffering them to depart I am bound to our young friend for alone. the concern he takes in our wel. But this persuasion was transient. fare, but certainly his imagination They had no sooner placed themmisleads him. I am not so much a selves in their carriage, and ex. girl as to be scared merely because changed the parting adieus, but my it is dark."

apprehensions returned upon me as I might have foreseen this deci. forcibly as ever. No doubt part of sion; but what could I say? My my despondency flowed from the fears and my repugnance were idea of separation, which, however strong as ever.

auspicious it might prove to the The evil that was menaced was lady, portended unspeakable disterrible. By remaining where they comforts to me. But this was not all. were till the next day they would I was breathless with fear of some escape it. Was no other method anknown and terrible disaster that

[ocr errors]

awaited them. A hundred times bridge, or extricate themselves from I resolved to disregard their re- this slough. I imagined the pos. monstrances, and hover near them sibility of their guide's forgetting till the morning. This might be the position of a certain oak that done without exciting their displea- grew in the road. It was an ancient sure. It was easy to keep aloof tree, whose boughs extended, on and be unseen by them. I should all sides, to an extraordinary disdoubtless have pursued this method tance. They seemed disposed by if my fears had assumed any defi- nature in that way in which they pite and consistent form ; if, in rea- would produce the most ample cir. litv, I had been able distinctly to cumference of shade. I could not tell what it was that I feared. My recollect any other obstruction from guardianship would be of no use which much was to be feared. This against the cbvious sources of dan- indeed was several miles distant, ger in the ruggedness and obscurity and its appearance was too remarkof the way. For that end I must able not to hare excited attention. have tendered them my services, The family retired to sleep. My which I knew would be refused, mind had been too powerfully exand, if pertinaciously obtruded on cited to permit ine to initate their them, might justly excite displea- example. The incidents of the last sure. I was not insensible, too, of two days passed over my fancy like the obedience that was due to my a vision. The revolution was al. uncie. My absence would be re- most incredible which my mind had marked. Some anger and much undergone, in consequence of these disquietude would have been the incidents. It was so abrupt and consequences with respect to him. entire that my soul seemed to have And after all, what was this ground- passed into a new form. I pondered less and ridiculous persuasion that on every incident till the surroundgoverned me? Had I profited no- ing scenes disappeared, and I forgot thing by experience of the effects of my real situation. I mused upon similar follies? Was I never to the image of Miss Davis till my attend to the lessons of sobriety and whole soul was dissolved in tendertruth? How ignominious to be thus ness, and my eyes overflowed with the slave of a fortuitous and inex- tears. There insensibly arose a plicable impulse! To be the vic- sort of persuasion that destiny had tim of terrors more chimerical than irreversably decreed that I should those which haunt the dreams of never see her more. idiots and children! They can des. While engaged in this melanchocribe clearly, and attribute a real ly occupation, of which I cannot say existence to the object of their ter- how long it lasted, sleep overtook rors. Not so can I.

me as I sat. Scarcely a minute had Influenced by these considera- elapsed during this period without tions, I shut the gate at which I conceiving the design, more or less had been standing, and turned to strenuously, of sallying forth, with a wards the house. After a few steps view to overtake and guard the tra. I paused, turned, and listened to the vellers; but this design was embardistant sounds of the carriage. My rassed with invincible objections, courage was again on the point of and was alternately formed and laid yielding, and new efforts were re- aside. At length, as I have said, I quisite before I could resume my sunk into profound slumber, if that first resolutions.

siuumber can be termed profound, in I spent a drooping and melancho, which my fancy was incessantly ly evening. My imagination conti- employed in calling up the forms, nually hovered over our departed into new combinations, which had guests. I recalled every circum- constituted my waking reveries.stance of the road. I reflected by The images were fleeting and tranwhat means they were to pass that sient, but the events of the morrow


recalled them to my remembrance that of my uncle, at the house of with sufficient distinctness. The Dr. Inglefield, a gentleman who reterrors which I had so deeply and sided at the distance of three miles unaccountably imbibed could not from our house. The messenger fail of retaining some portion of explained the intention of this retheir influence, in spite of sleep. quest. It appeared that the terrors

In my dreams, the design which of the preceding evening had some I could not bring myself to execute mysterious connection with truth. while awake I embraced without By some deplorable accident, Miss hesitation. I was summoned, me- Davis had been shot on the road, and thought, to defend this lady from was still lingering in dreadful agothe attacks of an assassin. My nies at the house of this physician. ideas were full of confusion and in- I was in a field near the road when accuracy. All that I can recollect the messenger approached the is, that my efforts had been unsuc- house. On observing me, he cale cessful to avert the stroke of the led me. His tale was meagre and murderer. This, however, was not imperfect, but the substance of it it accomplished without drawing on was easy to gather. I stood for a his head a bloody retribution. I moment motionless and aghast. As imagined myself engaged, for a long soon as I recovered my thoughts I time, in pursuit of the guilty, and, set off full speed, and made not a at last, to have detected him in an moment's pause till I reached the artful disguise. I did not employ house of Inglefield. the usual preliminaries which hoc The circumstances of this mournnour prescribes, but, stimulated by ful event, as I was able to collect rage, attacked him with a pistol, them at different times, from the and terminated his career by a mor- witnesses, were these. After they tal wound.

had parted from us, they proceeded I should not have described these on their way for some time without phantoms had there not been a re- molestation. The clouds disappearmarkable coincidence between them ing, the star-light enabled them with and the real events of that night. less difficulty to discern their path, In the morning, my uncle, whose They met not a human being till custom it was to rise first in the fa- they came within less than three mily, found me quietly reposing in miles of the oak which I have before the chair in which I had fallen described. Here Miss Davis looked asleep. His summons roused and forward with some curiosity and said startled me. This posture was so to her father, “ Do you not see some unusual that I did not readily reco- one in the road before us? I saw him ver my recollection, and perceive in this moment move across from the what circumstances I was placed. fence on the right hand and stand

I shook off the dreams of the still in the middle of the road.” night. Sleep had refreshed and in- “ I see nothing, I must confess," vigorated my frame, as well as said the father: “but that is no subtranquillized my thoughts. I still ject of wonder; your young eyes will mused on yesterday's adventures, of course see farther than my old but my reveries were more cheer- ones." ful and benign. My fears and “I see him clearly at this mobodements were dispersed with the ment," rejoined the lady. “ If he redark, and I went into the fields, not main a short time where he is, op merely to perform the duties of the seems to be, we shall be able to as. day, but to ruminate on plans for certain his properties. Our horse's the future.

head will determine whether his My golden visions, however, were substance be impassive or not." soon converted into visions of des. The carriage slowly advancing, pair. A messenger arrived before and the form remaining in the same noon, intreating my presence, and spot, Mr. Davis at length perceived

« ПредишнаНапред »