Графични страници
PDF файл

the care she took of what he gave her, that not even an aloe on the verge of floweringthose rare blossoms it takes a century to produce, but only a summer to destroy – would have obtained for its own sake.

Nothing is so ingenious in its thousand ways and means as affection. As she passed along the various paths, something of neglect struck her forcibly— not but that all was in such order as did full credit to the gardener -- but her accustomed eye missed much of former taste and selection. The profusion of luxuriant creepers were twisted and clipped, with a regularity that would have done honour to any nursery ground. There were more rare, and fewer beautiful flowers than formerly; and, thanks to the sunflowers and marigolds, yellow was the predominant colour. It was a relief to turn into the shadowy walk of the thick yews' unbroken green, which led to her own portion of the shrubbery.

In a former age, this walk had been the pride of the domain — each side being a row of heathen gods and goddesses. Jupiter with his eagle, Juno with her peacock, Time with his sithe, had much outgrown their original proportions; still the outline remained, and to Emily these relics of sylvan statuary seemed like old friends : but the air grew very fragrant, and another turn brought her to her own garden. There, at least, she traced her uncle-not one of her favourites had been forgotten ; and never had the purple and perfumed growth of the heliotrope—that sanctuary, of odour-been so luxuriant, while the bed of the rich crimson clove pink was like one of the spice islands, the very Manilla of the garden. Das

You see, Miss Emily,” said the gardener, “ we did not forget you. Master always would come here ; but he has not been round our garden these three weeks. Indeed, miss, he took no pleasure in nothing after you went. Why, Miss Emily, you look almost as bad as he does. Well, they say London is a sad place : nothing will thrive there." i n

For the first time in his life, the old gardener turned away without waiting for his accustomed gossip with the young mistress, with whom he was very indignant for her sojourn in town, winter he could have forgiven, but a summer in London ! —every successive growth of flowers that passed by without Emily's seeing and praising them added to the deepness of her offence. A few words of compliment to his

dahlias would have melted away his anger; but her 'silence and non-observance of a plat where the campanella had been so carefully trained in capital letters forming her name, this was too much, and he stalked off in one of those fits of dudgeon, the dearest privilege of an old and indulged servant. However, before he reached the next walk, his anger softened into pity, and he went on muttering,

“ Poor thing—poor thing; she's thinking of her uncle. Well, well,—she won't have him long to think of, poor child. He took no pleasure in nothing after she went."

These words rang in her ears. She sat down on a little garden-seat, and wept long and bitterly. The self-reproach of a sensitive and affectionate temper is of the most refined and exaggerating nature. Unmixed grief requires and seeks solitude-its unbroken indulgence is its enjoyment; but that which is mingled with remorse, involuntarily shrinks from itself, — it wants consolation - it desires to hear some other voice extenuate its faults, -and even while disowning and denying the offered excuse, it is comforted.

It was this feeling that, as Mr. Morton's house in the distance caught Emily's eye, made

her turn her steps towards it. Early as it was, she knew that its being the Sabbath would ensure his having risen; he was an old kind friend,-she would hear what he thought of her uncle's state, and return before she could be wanted for breakfast.

A winding walk through the shrubbery brought her to the little wicket which opened on the fields through which she had to pass. The first field was one of those spots which seem dedicated to peace and beauty : it had lately been mown, and the thick young grass was only broken by an occasional patch of the lilac-coloured clover. Perhaps, in times long passed, it had been part of a park, for it was as beautifully wooded as the choicest plantation, and with a regularity which was like the remains of an avenue—and older and finer beeches were not in the country; while the field itself was surrounded by a hazel hedge, the slight boughs now weighed down by light green tufts of the nuts. A narrow path skirted the side next the road, but it was little worn,—the nuts even on the lowest branches were ungathered ; for, calm and beautiful as was the place, it was haunted with one of those evil memories which cling like a curse.

Two young men were travelling this road, bound by that early friendship which is one of the strongest of human ties; the one going down to marry the sister of his friend, -the other to witness his happiness. They stopped for a night at the little inn in the town; they supped in the most exuberant spirits -- that contagious mirth which to see is to share; they had their jest on the waiter and for the landlady; they pledged the landlord in the best china bowl, which they said had never held such punch before — the green parlour rang with their laughter: suddenly their voices were heard in loud debate, — then the tones were lower, but harsher; this was succeeded by entire silence. They separated for the night, each to their several rooms; but the bowl of punch was left almost untouched. Next morning their rooms were both empty, though in each was their travelling bag and portmanteau, and the purse of the darker one, containing some guineas, was left on the dressing-table. Their places had been taken in the mail which passed that morning; but they were no where to be found. At length, half scared out of his very small senses, a boy came running to the inn, with intelligence that a gentleman was lying

« ПредишнаНапред »