Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

He took out his portmanteau, and carried it inside the lodge, observing that he would despatch a servant for it. The woman took it in her hand, to test its weight.

“ It's not heavy, sir. My boy can run up with it at once.” “ Very well,” replied Mr. Kage.

He was close at the house when he heard the sound of voices at a distance, and on looking to the spot, he saw a gentleman playing with a child; now running with him, now tossing him, now carrying him on his shoulder. It was growing dusk, but Thomas Kage had no difficulty in recognising Mr. Dawkes, and the child was the young heir to the Rock.

Mrs. Canterbury was alone when he entered : she had just come down, attired for dinner. Her weeds were discarded, and she wore a black lace dress, and a shower of ringlets, sunny and luxuriant as in former days. Her emotion at the sight of her visitor was vivid, and he could not fail to observe it.

“Oh, Thomas ! this is, indeed, unexpected.”
“ I wrote you word last week I should be coming."
But

you did not say when. And I never thought you meant so soon.”

“ Am I too soon, Caroline ?”

“Oh no, no; my surprise is all gladness. Have you come from London to-day?”

“ I will answer as many questions as you like, when I have taken off some of this travelling dust ; but I had better do it first, for it must be close upon your dinner-hour.”

Mrs. Canterbury caused him to be shown to his room, observing that her mother and a friend would dine with them. They were present when he descended: Mrs. Kage and Mr. Dawkes. Dinner was waiting, and they went in. Mrs. Canterbury took the head of her table, and he, Mr. Kage, the opposite place.

“ You have been making a long stay in this neighbourhood,” observed Mr. Kage to the captain.

“ I like it,” he replied. “I think I shall settle here."

After dinner the child came in, little Thomas Canterbury. He was too gentle to be a spoilt child, but his mother seemed wrapt in him. Mr. Dawkes appeared equally wrapt : he took the boy on his knee, fed him with sweet things, kissed him and fondled him: and this continued until the ladies retired and took the child with them. As soon as they were gone, Captain Dawkes took out his pocket-book and laid a five-pound note by the side of Mr. Kage.

Kage, I owe you a thousand apologies for not having repaid you before. When I heard you were likely to come here, I felt delighted at the opportunity to relieve myself from debt.”

“You might have sent it,” observed Mr. Kage. “I know I might; I was always going to do so, but negligence is my failing. Thanks for the loan." “ Have things got straight with you ?”

Oh, quite so. My ancient relative relented, and came down like a brick.”

It was not altogether a merry evening. Thomas Kage was silent and

[ocr errors]

thoughtful, the ex-captain evidently constrained, and Mrs. Kage shot keen glances from her eyes at both, under cover of the tops of her essence-bottles. Mrs. Canterbury alone was in an overflow of spirits. , By ten o'clock, the two dinner guests had left, and Mrs. Canterbury and her cousin were left alone. She caused the chess-table to be brought forward, and set out the men.

“ You will play, Tom, will you not ?" He drew his chair up and commenced the game. In five minutes Mrs. Canterbury had checkmated him. He began to put the pieces up.

“But will you not play again ?" she asked.
“Not to-night. My thoughts are elsewhere."

He finished his employment, pushed the table back, and dropped into a musing attitude. Mrs. Canterbury glanced at him, as she played with the trinkets that were hanging from her chain. “Is anything the matter, Thomas ? You have been as solemn as a judge all the evening."

“ Is it true," he abruptly said, “ that you are likely to marry Dawkes ?"

“My goodness! what put that in your head ?" “ Is it true, Caroline ?” he more sadly repeated.

“ No, it is not. But why can't people keep their mischief-making tongues to themselves ?”

He did not put absolute faith in her denial. “ It was imprudent, Caroline, to allow a stranger, of whom you know nothing, to become so intimate here."

“ Mamma has been setting you on to say this !".

He shook his head. “Let me tell you what I know of Dawkes. He has been a wild, gay man, up to his ears in debt and embarrassment; when he came to this neighbourhood it was to be safe from his creditors. Now, Caroline, reflect for one moment to such a man as this, what a temptation a fortune like yours must hold out!"

“Few men have been exempt from embarrassment at some time or other of their lives," observed Mrs. Canterbury. “Captain Dawkes's having been in debt, ought not to tell against him, now he is free from it."

“How do you know he is free from it?”

“Of course he is. He lives here openly, and seems to have plenty of money.”

may

have paid his debts; he may have plenty of money now; I do not know that it is not so, and you do not know that it is. But

“What a shame it is people can't mind their own business !” interrupted Mrs. Canterbury. «They interfere with me in the most unwarrantable manner: they say I visit too much, and they say I left off my ugly widow's caps too soon—I wore them twelve months, and they were spoiling my hair! And now they have been talking to you about Captain Dawkes."

“I was about to observe that the tastes and pursuits of Captain Dawkes I have seen something of them are not calculated to bring happiness to a wife, Caroline.

She smiled; a bright, laughing smile. Mr. Kage was vexed; he thought it a derisive one.

“Čaroline, I speak for your sake only, your happiness.”

6 He

[ocr errors]

“ Then you really do care for my happiness!”

“I have never cared for any one's so much in life. You knew it once, Caroline.”

Mrs. Canterbury had risen and was standing with her elbow on the mantelpiece, and the red glow of the fire deepened to crimson the blushes on her cheeks. Or had they deepened of themselves ? any way, they were rich and beautiful. Thomas Kage thought so as he stood close to her, far too innocent and beautiful to be thrown away on Barnaby Dawkes.

I thought it once,” she hesitatingly said, “until —”
“Until when ?"
“ Until I married. But it was all over then."

“Not so: I am anxious for it still, and I wish you would let me try and guide you to it."

“How would you begin ?” she merrily said.

"First of all, you should break off the intimacy with Dawkes How was it brought about?” he interrupted himself to ask.

“It began by his taking a fancy for my boy. He made acquaintance with him and his nurse in their walks, and the child grew so attached to him, nothing was ever like it. How could I help being civil to one who is so fond of my child ?”

“Let there be truth between us, Caroline," he interrupted, in a pained tone.

“I am telling you truth: I will tell you all. I care nothing for Captain Dawkes, and, I only like him because he loves the boy. But he has

grown to like me in a different way,” she added, " and last week he asked me to become his wife."

“ What was your answer?”

“ That I would not: and it was a very decided would not,' admitting no hope. But he still comes here. It would kill him to separate from the child, he said: whether he still hopes to make an impression on me, is his look-out: I don't know, and don't care.”

“ Then you do not love him, Caroline.”
“No; it is not to him that my love is given."

“That tone, Caroline, would almost imply that it is given elsewhere. Is it so ?”

The flush of crimson in her face was so great that she turned it from him. He took her hand and held it between his.

"Would you have me go through life alone ?" she sadly asked. “Why should I not marry again? Some mothers call girls at my age too young for wives. I am not three-and-twenty."

“My dear, I hope you will marry again : my only anxiety is that you should marry for happiness. What is the matter ?"

Mrs. Canterbury had burst into tears. “It is such a lonely life," she whispered; "it has been so lonely all along. I married-you know about it, that I did not care for him—and I found I had grasped the shadow and lost the substance: I tried to carry it off to others and be gay,

but there was the aching void ever in my heart. Since I have been free, it has been the same: no real happiness; nothing but a yearning after what I have not. Sometimes hope springs up and pictures a bright future: but it flies away again. I have never,” she continued, raising her eyes

for a moment, "breathed aught of these, my feelings, to man or woman: I could not to any one but you.”

"Caroline, you are indulging a love-dream! Who is its object?”

She was trembling excessively: he could feel that, as he held her hand, which she had not attempted to remove. Alone with him in that quiet evening hour, her heart full of romance and sentiment, Caroline Canterbury may be forgiven if she betrayed herself. Though she had heartlessly rejected Thomas Kage to marry a rich man, she had loved him passionately then, and she loved him passionately still.

“ Who is it, Caroline ?"
" Do not ask me."
“ Who is it, Caroline ?”
Need you ask me?".

No he need not, for in that same moment the scales fell from his own eyes. Her agitated tone, her downcast look, told him what he had cer. tainly not had his thoughts pointed to. He dropped her hand, and went and leaned his own elbow on the mantelpiece, with a flush as rosy as hers.

“ Caroline," he whispered, breaking a long silence," was this your dream ?”

She was vexed at having betrayed her feelings, and sobbed hysterically. He waited.

“ It cannot be,” he continued to whisper, when calmness came to her. “ Whether it might have been, whether the old feelings might have been renewed between us, I have never allowed myself to ask. There is an insuperable barrier.''

“In my having left you to marry Mr. Canterbury.”

“ Mr. Canterbury is gone and has left you free. The barrier lies in his unjust will, in your having inherited, and in my being its executor."

“I do not understand you,” she faintly said.

“Our former attachment was known to some. Were I to make you my wife now, who but would say it was a work of complicity, planned between us : the money bequeathed to you, and I the executor ! Caroline, were you dear to me as formerly, as perhaps you might become again, I would die of heart-break, rather than marry your money, and so sacrifice my good name.”

Her face and lips had turned of a stony white, and her heart felt turding to stone within her.

“ Answer me one thing,” she said ; “ when you urged me to induce Mr. Canterbury to make a more equitable will, and leave me less, was this

your motive ?” “No!" he earnestly answered, “ I spoke only from a love of justiceI wished you to be just, I wished you to retain the good opinion of men. From the day of your marriage with Mr. Canterbury, I have never thought of

you but as lost to me: and I schooled my heart to bear.”

Recollection, remorse, grief were telling upon her. She shook as she stood, and turned to lay hold of something by which to steady herself. He could but walk across the rug to support her. “ I suffered then as you are doing now," he whispered.

“Let me make it up to you !" she returned, heeding little what she said in her despair—" let us make it up to each other. You do care for me still — I have riches I have my love let me make it up to you.”

“ It is those riches that make it impossible. Caroline, do not tempt me : it can never be.”

“ Then you reject me!" she bitterly exclaimed.

“ As a wife: I have no other alternative. But, Caroline, we can be dear to each other still—as brother and sister.”

“ Brother and sister! brother and sister !” she wailed; " that is not a tie to satisfy the void of an aching heart."

“ Caroline, my darling sister, you must school your heart,” he whispered. “I had to do it-1 have to do it still. Any warmer feeling, any more sacred tie is impossible between us. Be composed ; be yourself.”

“ Yes, I will be myself,” she answered, as she turned from him to seek her chamber. “ Farewell, Thomas."

“Good night, Caroline,” he replied; “we will meet as usual to-morrow, and forget all this."

He stood at the door, which he had held open for her to pass through, and his own heart ached as he heard the smothered burst of anguish which escaped from hers. It was a painful rejection he had had to give, but in his opinion a necessary one.

And as poor Mrs. Canterbury tossed on her sleepless pillow, she felt that retribution was already overtaking her, and through the whole livelong night she bewailed the possession of the riches that were not justly hers, that had brought this misery and mortification upon her, and divided her for ever from the only one who had indeed made her day-dream.

A RUSSIAN STATESMAN.*

No state in recent times has so rapidly attained power and influence as the Russian. This was more especially owing to the genius of Peter the Great, who dragged his resisting nation on to the path of European civilisation. The activity of this marvellous man excited a degree of enthusiasm which was evidenced by the numbers who flocked to aid in his labours. Many of these, it is true, were adventurers, but, on the other hand, many were men of decided character and brilliant genius. The newly-founded capital on the Neva enticed a multitude of persons, who were thence scattered over the country. When the master departed this life, they fairly earned the reputation of supporting the edifice, and gradually adding to its size. Britons and Frenchmen, Danes and Dutch, rivalled the natives in carrying out this heavy task, but the Germans were the most prominent of all. The conquest of the Baltic provinces had enlisted the services of thousands of these, from which Russia derived great benefit. But Germany proper did not remain behind. She sent the cautious and polished Ostermann, whom Russia has to thank for the peace of Nystädt, and for the regulation of her foreign relations ; she gave the terrible Münnich, whose restless zeal created a

* Des Grafen J. J. Sievers's Denkwürdigkeiten zur Geschichte Russlands. Von C. L. Blum. Leipzig: C. F. Winter. Vols. I. and II.

« ПредишнаНапред »