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dinner that day watching Mr. Escourt, while he poured into Mrs. Middleton’s ear his amusing anecdotes, and saw her look of interest as she listened to him. I felt it yet more when, after dinner, I heard my uncle invite him in the most cordial manner to Elmsley; and above all, when Edward addressed him as “My dear fellow,” I gave a start of impatience which must have seemed unaccountable to Edward, who looked at me with unafi‘ected surprise.
After dinner we all sat on the stone terrace before the house; and while I strove in vain to shake ofl‘ the gloom which gathered over my spirits more darkly every hour, I could not disguise from myself that Rosa had never looked more lovely —had never appeared to greater advantage. Whether with perfect gravity and a genuine brogue she related, at Edward’s request, the wonderful history of Daniel O’Rourke, who held on to the moon by its horns; or whether, on some remark of Mr. Escourt's on the subject to which all her feelings were alive, in a few words of rapid and fervent eloquence, she spoke of the sufl'erings and the wrongs of Ireland, of its injured honour, its misrepresented creed: whether with the joyousness of a child she showed off the tricks of her little dog by the side of the garden lake, or, stepping into the boat which was made expressly for her use, she seized her cars and rowed us across like the Lady of Loch Katrine: in each movement there was grace; in each mischievous glance there was playfulness; in each word there was animation; and Edward laughed gaily, or listened with interest, while even Mr. Middleton seemed excited and amused. '
When we returned into the house, Mr. Manby asked Rosa to sing; and as we all pressed her to do so, she sat down at the pianoforte, and sang in succession English ballads, Irish melodies, and Jacobite songs, which last she seemed to take particular pleasure in. During a pause, Mr. Escourt said,
“Pray, Miss Moore, what was it you were singing to-day before dinner, in your own garden? Something very wild and pretty."
“Did you detect me making a noise?" she asked with a smile; “a shocking noise, my little brother calls it. He did not wish to find fault with me himself the other day, so he whispered to me while he was playing with some wooden animals, ‘Rosa, these deer say to me that you make a shocking noise.’ But this is what you mean, I suppose,” and she began Montrose’s love-song.
“ This may be all very well," exclaimed Mr. Escourt, when she had sung it, “for a man who fights and writes verses; who carries, as he says, a sword and a pen, as should his mistress discard him, he would no doubt console himself with that same sword and pen: but I should think, with nine women out of ten, a dismissal would be the result of so very dictatorial a declaration. With, only listen to him:” and be repeated the following lines:
" Like Alexander I would reignI
And I would reign alone;
My soul did evermore disdain
He either fears his fate too much,
Who dares not put it to the touch
“Would you stand this, Miss Moore?”
“ Why," she said, as her fingers ran carelessly over the keys, “I should not feel much' inclined to let Alexander reign at all; but I should not quarrel with him for choosing to reign alone. Would you , Ellen? "
“No,” I answered, “ only for believing it possible that he did not reign alone.”
I involuntarily turned my eyes towards Edward’s as I said this. They met his, and their expression was so earnest and afi‘ectionate that a thrill of pleasure ran through me.
Mr. Escourt laughed and said,
" Why, you would have your hero still more convicted than he is. To my mind,
‘1 'li never love thee more,‘ ’ is, under any circumstances, the most impertinent speech a lover can make, and one which no woman ought to forgive."
“ Oh, indeed ,” exclaimed Mr. Manby, “I am quite like
Ellen Middleton. 13
Montrose. I would never care for a woman who did not love me above all things.”
“Nor make her famous by your pen, nor glorious by your sword? ” murmured Rosa, as she bent Over the music-books.
Edward smiled; but this time it was my eyes he sought; and by my side he sat down, when we left the pianoforte and went into the next room.
I will not minutely record the details of our proceedings, or of the various alternations of hopes and fears which agitated ' me during the next few days. Sometimes when Edward spoke to me, his voice had a tone, his eyes an expression, which made me forget for an instant everything but what I heard in that tone and read in those eyes; and the ecstacy of such moments made the contrast darker and bitterer each time, when, under the influence of my secret misgivings, or of my jealous pangs, that flash of transient joy gave way before the gloom which suddenly succeeded it. Mrs. Middleton had taught me to tear away the veil from my own thoughts and feelings — to be true to myself, and merciless to my own illusions; and therefore, though I could sometimes read love in Edward’s eyes, — though I could see, that when an expression of strong feeling escaped me, it awoke emotion in his soul, and struck a chord which vibrated to the touch; I could also see the struggle which he made to master and repress these feelings. I saw well his deep appreciation of the pure and unsullied truth of Rosa’s character. When her eyes were fixed upon him with the bold simplicity and innocent daring of one
" Who feared no danger, for one knew no sin,“ I have seen him turn to me with an earnest gaze of thoughtful inquiry, which I dared not meet but by a mute appeal for mercy. I had heard him murmur in a low voice one evening, in which storms of jealous anger and gloomy abstraction had swept over mysoul and clouded my brow,I heard him murmur, as Rosa’s joyous laugh reached our ears,
“0 . blast with temper, whose unclouded ray
I had heard this, and yetI did not hate her. No, God be praised, and I bless him for it! not all my sufferings, not all my faults, not even the tortures of jealousy itself, have robbed me of that one pure emotion, that one spontaneous impulse— instinctive homage to what is pure, admiration of what is good. But how I envied her the privilege of truth! how bitterly I contrasted her fate with mine! when, one day, I saw her snatch up her little sister to her knees, while Mr. Escourt was asserting that there was no one who would willingly consent to lay open their thoughts to another, and devouring her with kisses, exclaim, “Now, Minny, you know I should not mind if you could read every one of my thoughts.”
At the outset of this history of myself, and of my sufferings, I had to gather strength for the task: one fatal day stood out in dreadful prominence; and to describe it was to live over again its agonising hours. Again I feel the same kind of emotion; again I must pause; for I am arrived at that moment which dragged me down a step lower into the abyss which I had seen from afar off, and from whichI had vainly struggled to recede. For days, for weeks, I have shut up this book, and put it aside as an enemy whose sight I feared; but, like the rattlesnake, this very fear fascinates and subdues me; and as the stern spells of memory cannot be conjured away, they must be braved and conquered.
“ Cet Hyman m'est fatal, je cralns et le souhaite , Je n'ose en espérer qulune jole tlmparfalt‘eQue je meurs I‘ll s‘acheve ou ne s'acheve pas." CORNEILLIL ONE morning, after we had been a few days at Hampstead, I felt the greatest wish to slip quietly out of the house and stroll about alone for an hour or two. I had been in the habit of doing so at Elmsley, and I found nothing so effectual as 18 “‘
this in subduing agitation, and recalling my mind to a state of composure. After making the tour of the grounds, walking round the lake, and dawdling some time in the shrubberies, I opened a small gate into a lane which led towards the common. This lane was scarcely wider than a path, and was only divided from the grounds of the villa by a ditch and a slight railing. I was intently occupied in examining an ant’s nest, and the various evolutions performed by its black citizens on the sudden fall of a snail among them, which had dropt off a branch of dog-roses while I was gathering it, when all at once a sound as of many people running, joined to loud cries and vociferations, caught my car. There was something ominous in the noise, and my heart beat quick as I looked with a mixture of fear and curiosity towards the end of the lane which opened on the heath. The noise increased; and suddenly round the corner and into the lane dashed a dog, followed by several men armed with pitchforks, and shouting. The appalling cry of “A mad dog! a mad dog!” struck distinctly upon my ears, and brought a deadly faintness over my limbs, and a cold sweat on my forehead. I tried to run, and my strength utterly failed me. I tried to scream and could not. The animal was coming nearer and nearer. I clung to the railing; the shouts grew louder: “Get out of the way! — a mad dog! —get out of the way!” Two more seconds, and the beast would have been upon me,with swollen tongue, glaring eye, and foaming mouth, when, quick as lightning, across the ditch , and over the railing, sprang Edward, with a face as pale as a sheet, and almost convulsed with terror. The dog was close to me; he seized it, flung it across the hedge into a pond on the other side, and dragged me to the grounds, and up to a bank, on which he placed me. For a moment I closed my eyes , overpowered by the terror I had felt, and the sense of escape from it; but I heard Edward murmur, in a tone of anguish, “Good God, what shall I do?" I opened my eyes and looked up into his face; it was so dreadftu pale that I exclaimed, “You are ill, very ill; for God’s sake sit down."