« ПредишнаНапред »
have answered for it, whether he said that my uncle, Ra. pelje, the proprietor of umberhurst, was a direct descendant and representative of Jove; or the dam of these pretty kids, the remote descendant of his alma mater.
I knew mamma was pleased with papa's playful mood, though it was not an infrequent one, and Edgar laughed outright. After a slight pause, Miss Standish said —
“What a soft, mellow-sounding name, Umberhurst! Its appropriateness must ever possess a charm for the lover of harmonies. I marvel somewhat, however, that its present mistress, with her English associations, did not baptize it with the grand patronymic of Northumberland, which, for this estate, would have equal significance."
"The Rapelje's would, doubtless, have objected to a change of name,” papa said.
"Indeed! Well, with either name attached thereto, I should be inexpressibly happy to ramble, for hours, in these deep and winding avenues.”
The rumbling sound of our carriage wheels at length subsided at the foot of the broad steps, and aunt Frances came out upon the piazza, with Fan and Belle on either side of her, like two blush-roses. They were drest alike, in simple gowns of white muslin, with blue waist-ribbons; but their exuberant joy gave them a brighter color than damenature designed them to wear on every-day occasions ; and Belle's pale, golden curls danced about her neck, in very sympathy with her laughing blue eyes and wave-like motions. There were many tender greetings, and many kind enquiries for the absent. My cousin, Claude, aunt Frances' eldest son, had just sailed in a vessel, belonging to his father, for the West Indies—to the Island of Hayti-where he was intending to spend the winter, and my cousin, Leonora, was still at a far-famed seminary in Troy.
Rose went with Fannie up stairs, and Belle and I begged the little Lena Illeota of her mother, and then hastened at once to the kitchen and dining-room to exbibit her to Phillis and Dinah, as being the most beautiful child extant; and when this mission was performed, we proceeded directly to show Belle's pretty white rabbits to the little lady, by way of preserving the equilibrium of her character, checking her budding vanity ; then, each of us, carrying one of the snowy pets-Lena Illeota with the smallest one gathered in the folds of her little dress—we took an airing about the lawn, for the benefit of the whole.
Presently I saw Mildred, now attired in a beautiful India muslin, her lovely brown hair wooing the sunbeams within its classic folds, and many a waving ringlet playing about her swan-like neck--my beautiful sister, Mildred, I saw coming out upon the piazza, and down the steps, attended by Mr. Sterling.
How was it possible my Mildred could walk by his side, could talk to him with such graceful self-possession ! Mr. Sterling (of whom I was actually afraid—with his elegant manners, yet to her always deferential, his grave deportment, figure and mien so a plomb, and his almost womanly diffidence, which often brought the rich blood mantling his uncommonly handsome face.
I did not dislike Mr. Sterling, on the contrary, when he conversed with papa, I admired him greatly ; but if he addressed me, his serious manner and his marked diffidence put to flight every living idea in my witless little head.
Mildred and Mr. Sterling were immediately followed by Miss Standish, Edgar, Fan, and Rose, who tripped lightly across the gravel-walk and turned into one of the many avenues, where Miss Standish had expressed a wish to walk. They all soon disappeared from our sight, and we saw them no more until we met at dinner.
Late in the afternoon, Mildred and Miss Standish played and sang, Mr. Sterling and Edgar accompanying them. My sister-in-law, Mrs. Lena Minster, was prevailed upon to take her seat at the piano, when the wild sweetness of her voice, the brilliancy of her touch and execution, charmed every one present.
In conclusion, Mildred begged the little Lena Illeota to sing a little song, which she did, all the while lisping so prettily; and the manner of her singing was a surprise to nearly all of us, and we knew not which to admire most, the studied accomplishments of the mother, or the native grace of the child. *** Aunt Frances and mamma at length withdrew to a pretty boudoir on the opposite side of the house, and thither I soon found my way. Sitting on a low ottoman at their feet, I listened eagerly, as they talked of my uncle, Stanly Hastings, of whom they had had recent intelligence. He was their elder, and now only brother, but had returned to England when aunt Frances was but a school-girl, and they had not since met. He was still unmarried, as they supposed ; had expressed much kindly interest in all of us, both at Umberhurst and at Glenelvan, and yearned for a reunion with his beloved sisters ; for in his last letter he had said, that if they could not be induced to cross the water to him, he must; he should and would come to them.
I had heard that my uncle Hastings had been abroad ; indeed, had spent many years in India ; and during this time little correspondence was kept up. Since then, my mamma and aunt Frances occasionally received a package of India shawls and muslins. Mamma, I knew, had from this uncle received, among other beautiful things, a pearl necklace, with her bridal gifts.
Well, indeed, and would he come ? should we like him ? How would he look after his long sojourn beneath those Indian skies? Was he indeed never married, really? Upon this point my mamma and aunt held different opinions. Here was food for my inquisitiveness.
“ Think as you will, dearest sister,” said my aunt. “Our brother will settle this question directly he comes, and if neither of us choose to ask it, I have one in my mind, who I think will.” Then laughing, gave me a little pat upon my cheek.
But now papa and uncle Rapelje, of Umberhurst, came seeking us. Papa was about to send John for our carriage, but would first be advised if mamma's visit was completed. Aunt would hear not a word of her leaving before tea, “ there would be a lovely moon, our horses were strong and surefooted, John was a careful driver, would take us home in an hour.” “And twenty minutes," papa added. We staid. There was no hurrying—but never was mistress of a larger house blest with cook and housemaid more prompt than Phillis and Dinah. Scipio (abbreviated to Scip), Dinah's sable offspring, who always let us through the gates into the Umberhurst grounds, seemed to have the capacity of being everywhere all in one moment, and of doing the right thing just at the right time—was of incomparable value in the way of forwarding and expediting the lighter household duties.
And on rare occasions, Cato, Dinah's husband, served in the drawing-room with a grace and facility equaled by few of his class. Cato was serving-man in general, and gentleman at large, and head servant at Umberhurst.
Tea was over, and then after a few “more last words," we entered our carriage and drove homeward. I know not which was pleasantest, this quiet drive beneath the harvest moon, or that in the flush and glow of morning. The first was full of hope and expectation, the last of pleasing memories.
I commence this chapter with the registry of two events, which had a bearing upon all our after lives; the first, was the betrothal of my sister Mildred to Mr. Sterling ; the second, the departure of my brother Hermann with his family to their southern home.
After this date, no incident occurred to interrupt the smooth current of daily life at Glenelvan, until the last days of autumn, and just as winter was setting in.
Our mamma decided to have Rose and I spend it in Philadelphia. Miss Standish was to go to Umberhurst, as aunt Frances most cheerfully acted upon mamma's suggestion to engage her as a governess for Fannie and Bell. And this arrangement was one of mutual satisfaction, or rather I should say of delight.
No hindrances or interruptions arose to impede the execution of mamma's well-formed plans, and almost before I had well considered whether I should enjoy another winter's absence from my dear happy home, we, Rose and I, were well settled, with our friends in that distant city.
The family with whom we were domiciled, were distant relations of mamma's, English Friends--by the fashionable world termed quakers. We were quite at home, and very happy with Madam Cadwallader and her numerous family of sons and daughters, and I soon forgot my shyness, which their grave though gentle manners and rigid adherence to the plain language induced, or more correctly speaking, renewed, for beneath all this precision, I found warm and true hearts. And soon I learned to love that simplicity of manner more than the most elaborate politeness of fashionable life. This excellent woman cheered and encouraged us, smooth