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Zelie, whose exertions in London had brought on an inflammation of the chest. Of course, this circumstance was unknown to all but Julian. Ellen began to wish for the society of her enlightened and eloquent friend, and to figure to herself his lonely anguish, roaming by the wild sea-shore, with no companion but disappointed Love; and Annie, romantically convinced that some mystery prevented his owning himself her lover, feared he might Aling himself from a rock in his despair, and wept and moaned in private, and sat sullen and dispirited in company.
The time was now come for the return of Mrs. Lindsay and her daughters to Moss Grove Rectory. In a week or two Mr. Lindsay was to visit them there — there, too, it was tacitly understood Julian was to make his proposals in form. Mrs. Lindsay, very anxious to conciliate all, before quitting the field, insisted on her dear Miss Tibby, her charming Annie, and her distinguished friend Mr. Grunter, accompanying her beloved brother-in-law.
“ The change will do you all so much good. I cannot promise you such accommodations as at the Hall. But there is plenty of room. Mr. Grunter shall have a study with a southern aspect; and it will be quite a treat to Gregory to meet with so great a scholar. Now do come, if it is only for a week, my dear sir. The hills and the heath will remind my dearest Miss Tibby of the land o' cakes and brither Scots,' and sweet Annie will roam about the wild country till she is as blooming as ever.”
As Miss Tibby had no wish to be left “alane wi’ the auld stiff-necked fule Grunter,” nor Grunter to be a lion only for Miss Tibby, the invitation was graciously accepted. As for Annie, she was passive — to the disappointed heart all places are alike. Mrs. Lindsay was even more than commonly affectionate and endearing before leaving her rich brother-in-law alone with his dependents. She nursed Fatima and her fat daughters; she called Screech a darling and a love; the vicious Cashmere buck a noble-spirited beauty;
and actually traced out a distant but certain relationship between herself and Mr. Grunter, who, on the mother's side, was a Gubbs.
Augusta departed gaily, taking a coquettish delight in the anxious sorrow this brief separation caused Julian. She delighted to teaze him with accounts of the splendid château Sir Peter Riskwell had bought near Moss Grove, on purpose, as he had said, to breathe the same air with her; she affected to long to see him again, to bewail her cruelty, and to pity his fate; and then she playfully reminded Julian, that “out of sight was out of mind,” and, turning away to wipe a few natural tears, bade him come soon, for “perhaps she might miss him.”
Possibly this farewell had more effect on Julian than sobs, and vows, and paroxysms of anguish would have had. When they were gone, he sought his father, and, while tears filled his eyes, and his pale cheeks betrayed his sufferings, he told him that he had manfully kept his word, and had not formally proposed, but that, now the time of trial was over, and as soon as possible, he must accompany him to Moss Grove, to claim the hand of his adored and adorable Augusta.
Mr. Lindsay insisted on a fortnight's delay, for a visit to town, to arrange some important affairs; and consented, at the end of that time, to all his son required, provided that en attendant he did not pledge himself in any way.
To while away the fortnight, which he knew would seem forty years, Julian set off for Hastings, to visit his friend De Villeneuve and poor Zelie.
“ Adieu, poor luckless maiden! imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a stranger, as he pauseth on his way, now pours into thy wounds—the being who has twice bruised thee can only bind them up for ever."
Zelie, the Queen of Song, sat alone at the foot of one of the giant rocks of Hastings. On one of her wan and almost transparent hands rested her fine head, while with the other she gathered up shells and seaweed, on which she gazed intently through large tears, but saw not what she gazed upon.
The searching morning sun revealed the ravages her late fatigues and latent disease had made so rapidly in one who had seemed, at her début, to deserve as well the title of Queen of Beauty as that of Queen of Song :