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tint of the sky, with the dark colour of the broad Severn, were pleasures and beauties to be admired and tasted by Lady Emily even in wintry hours. The sounds of distant rustic labour or merriment that were borne distinctly through the clear and rarified atmosphere, gave animation and cheerfulness to the otherwise sombre landscape: they told of the vicinage of human beings; and surely utter solitude, however sublime, cannot long be grateful to the heart of social man. They told of the business, the cares, the delight of fellow-creatures, and were circumstances which added a lively interest to the
In addition to these, how many pleasing objects rewarded Lady Emily's tasteful eyes in and about their humble dwelling-objects which were all the offspring of her industry and exertion, and thus their value was enhanced tenfold. Her refined perception and enjoyment of beautiful things, took a wide range through the whole province of the endless regions of taste. The comforts and even elegancies of furniture with which she had adorned the interior of their dwelling, were chiefly wrought by her own hand. The blush of early flowers which thickly enamelled the garden, were literally the result of her own culture; the early lilac which perfumed the apartment had been cherished by her through the severity of winter, and coaxed into premature bloom, to surprise her uncle, and make him forget the loss of his forcing-houses, or only remember them in order to prove that all things "may be supplied by care and love ; and chietly, and above all, the joy she experienced at placing his favourite bunch of violets on his table, could not be compared with that which gold or jewels can afford.
From these innocent but evanescent delights, she turned with other sentiments of graver satisfaction to the orphans whom she had converted, not into fine lady playthings, but into tidy, active, useful children, so gentle, so well suited to fill their sphere in life with credit and comfort, that they were living proofs, not only of the endowments of her refined taste, but of her solid understanding; and bore testimony that these qualities are not necessarily in
compatible, although they frequently are disjoined.
During the long winter nights, Lady Emily alternately plied her needle, or read aloud to the General, or sang to him his favourite songs; and as they retired to rest every night, when he kissed and blessed her, she regularly said, from her inmost heart—" Thank God for a day of happiness !"
Under her sweet influence, the General regained his serenity, and sometimes even shared in the pleasure she took in her garden; helped her to part the roots of her polyanthuses, (which she called her stationary butterflies, likening their velvet flowers to the mealy wings of those insects,) and smiling delightedly at the eager interest with which she invested the simplest pleasures; but still there was a canker in his heart's core, which could not be cast out altogether, till a higher power removed it thence. The only diversity which varied the nature of their employments and pursuits, was a letter now and then from Heatherden, and, in the course of the winter, about four from Lady Frances.
These latter were dry and formal letters, with which there was nothing to find fault, but much to dislike, considering from whom they came, and to whom they were addressed. Their perusal never failed to sadden Lady Emily, and to cast a deeper gloom on the General's brow. There were other letters, too, received by General Montgomery, which he always retired to read, and the contents of which Lady Emily knew were not to be imparted to her: although her almost filial solicitude for her dear uncle rendered this a cruel trial to her, yet she forbore to take any notice of a circumstance, in which at present, she was convinced, she could be of no use.
Winter had now completely passed away. The first snow-drop, the first crocus, nay even the last tuft of primroses that had bloomed by the unchained spring, were gone. Already the infancy of flowers had lapsed into their childhood; and the violet Aung its rich fragrance far and wide
upon the vagrant breeze. Once again, the green spike of the corn waived
upland, the lark once again tuned his aspiring minstrelsy high poized in air; while the throstle, and the blackbird with its golden beak, sought the lanes and hollows, busying themselves in forming habitations for their young, amid the fencing thorns of the pink-budded hawthorn.
After a long ramble one afternoon, when Lady Emily had climbed the highest uplands which overlook the Severn, she felt fatigued, and sat down to enjoy the delightful rest which follows exertion, by the side of one of those fresh welling springs which burst from the bosom of the earth, as though they were spirits of life and gladness endowed with power to cherish and adorn the lands through which they hold their fertilizing course; and as she contemplated its bright and gurgling waters, she felt the language which thus spake in their silent eloquence; and then, as her eyes wandered far off over the sea-like Severn, a sudden vision flashed before her fancy of the Dorsetshire coast, of the last year's Spring, and of her first interview with Lord Mowbray. Nature itself seemed to hold up the mirror to her,