« AnteriorContinuar »
MY COUSIN CAROLINE'S WEDDING,
NATHAN, THE POACHER; OR, THE MIDNIGHT STRUGGLE,
THE FATE OF THE PARRICIDE,
JAQUES, THE OUTCAST,
THE DISCARDED DAUGHTER.-PART I. THE ESTRANGEMENT,
PART II THE RECONCILIATION,
PART II. HONESTY THE BEST POLICY,
PART III. BOB WHYTE'S STORY,
THE SMUGGLER-A TALE OF REVENGE,
THE MYSTERIES OF THE DEEP,
MARK VASPAR, THE INFORMER,
SCRAPES AND ESCAPES;
THE ADVENTURES OF A STUDENT.
My Cousin Caroline's Wedding.
I HAD but recently arrived in Glasgow, and entered myself at the Medical University, determined to make the best of a position which I had the will but not the power to evade, when one afternoon as I was indulging in a half dreamy vision of the future, I was aroused by a loud knock, which I well knew was the postman's, and my air-built castles of future eminence and aristocratic patients and all that sort of thing were suddenly prostrated by the reception of a pressing invitation to set off immediately to pay a visit to my aunt, then residing in Inverness. Hastily cramming a few indispensables into my carpet-bag, I booked myself for an outside passage on the night coach and started off in a state of much wonderment as to what this invitation could mean.
The last visit I had made in the same quarter was volunteered on my part, and I had been driven back by my aunt to study Jenner and Harvey, quicker than I came, because I had fallen over head and ears in love with Caroline. Caroline, in her own family, was a goddess—a seraphan angel upon earth, fit to be a queen, and sure to be a countess. Many other people's opinion of her was not quite so exalted, but opinions, like noses, will differ. Mine united itself cordially to that of the family; now that I can think and judge dispassionately, which I could not have done then, it has, in spite of me, gone over to the other side. The fact is, like many another beautiful girl-and Caroline Dashingly was beautiful-she held so preposterous a notion of the infallibility of her own charms, that she had a little overplayed her cards. From the age of eighteen to that of thirty, Caroline's whole life and energies had been
devoted to the triumphs of conquest making. Fifty times, at the very Fifty least, might she have married, and been well settled, but that unfortunate lightness, and propensity for flirtation, had invariably damped the swain's ardor before the time came for popping the question. Everybody at first sight was sure to be in love with Caroline. I, a young fellow not yet possessing my diploma, and unused to women's society, was nearly mad after her, and would gladly have asked her to share my fortunewhich was nothing a year and find myself, like many an embryo M. D. -only aunt got an inkling of the matter, and sent me and my portmanteau off together. As to Carry, I believe she cared about as much for my own sweet self, as she did for the stately old butler who was propped up every day against the sideboard. But I thought differently then; I did not know her; and her flirtation with me was carried on pretty strongly. She must have seen how earnest I was, and that what was sport to her might to me be--no matter, I managed to outlive it all, save the recollection. She wrought upon the mind of many a man an indelible impression of the heartlessness of woman; and Caroline, for her pains, was now one-and-thirty, and ready to catch at straws.
The mail-coach conveyed me to within six miles of Dashingly House, and by way of doing the thing in style, that aunt and Carry might experience a qualm of regret for having rejected me, I bargained for a return chaise and four, which had just conveyed an old gentleman a two-mile stage, and jumping into it, was whirled away towards Dashingly.
Who should be standing at the lodge gates, talking to the gardener's wife, but the cherry-cheeked housemaid, my especial favorite of all the family, Caroline excepted. So I checked the postilions, and leaned from the window.
"I say, Nancy, what's up? Why am I sent for?"
"Miss Caroline's wedding, sir."
"Miss Caroline's wedding! Why-how-how long has that been about?"
"Two or three months, sir. Quite a first-rate match, and such a handsome man! It is to be on Tuesday."
"What's his name?"
Captain Fitz- The rest was lost in the roll of the chaise, the impatient post-boys, or perhaps the horses, declining to wait longer. They were dressed for dinner, and came crowding round the drawingroom windows to have a stare at the chaise-and-four, Aunt Dashingly in her great crimson turban and upright feathers, which, if they had been black, might have served for a hearse, and that starched out old amber-satin gown. It had seen ten summers if it had seen one, and still looked as bright as ever; it must have been an everlasting color, like the flowers, or else periodically washed out in amber. Caroline was in pink, with some brown ribbons bobbed oddly about her hair, to hide, I expect, the faded partings, whilst my sweet sister Lina wore white muslin.
Lina (her name of Carolina assimilated so closely with her cousin's, that she was universally called Lina) was an heiress. Greatly to the
indignation of us six portionless chaps, her brothers, to whom it would have been of use, our Indian uncle-in-law, Nabob Cayenne, had left her all his fortune-thirty thousand pounds. What a wasteful thing to leave a portion like that to a girl! Since my mother's death, Lina had been under Aunt Dashingly's especial protection; and a very tight protection it was; nobody dared look at her within a mile, or touch her with a long pole.
An immense sensation had been created in Inverness, some few years previously, by Dashingly House and all its inmates "going over to Rome;" less figuratively speaking, turning themselves from lukewarm Protestants into red-hot Catholics. Mr. and Mrs. Dashingly (he was alive then) had, imperceptibly to themselves, glided into close intimacy with some good, zealous Romish priests, who, under a quiet, sleepy exterior, had the reputation of being inwardly very wide awake; and the upshot of the friendship was, that the lady and gentleman became converts, or perverts, or whatever the approved term may be-I don't pretend to say what-to the Catholic faith. Caroline and her brothers of course "went over" too, and as many of the servants as had no mind to leave their easy places at Dashingly House. Not that Caroline cared very much what faith she professed, provided it did not interfere with her ball-room flirtations; and the wide-awake priests condescendingly shut their eyes to all that. Exceedingly ardent in their new cause were Mr. and Mrs. Dashingly, as freshly-converted zealots to that faith frequently are. Mr. Dashingly had begun by erecting a Catholic chapel near to his residence; and the building of it, and the endowing of it, and the fitting it up, and the pictures, and the saints, and the relics, and the silver crucifixes, and the candlesticks, and the priests' vestments, and all the rest of the tinsel and glitter, had dipped pretty considerably into the fortune which had been laid aside for his two younger children, Caroline and Alfred. Some meddlers insinuated that it had taken it all, but Mr. and Mrs. Dashingly maintained a freezing silence upon the point, so nobody knew for certain. What further glorious works in the architectural line Mr. Dashingly would have accomplished, never was ascertained, since the envious destroyer, Death, stepped in, and put an end to him and his good deeds, without warning. Not much change had since gone over Dashingly House, which would still be enjoyed by Mrs. Dashingly, as a residence, until her demise. Tyro Dashingly, Esquire, the eldest son, had espoused a rich widow, and had, literally, gone to Rome, where he was still sojourning. Alfred was away, playing the rake, as usual, and Caroline pursued her conquests and her flirtations. It was quite an event when Lina came. Mrs. Dashingly's first solicitude about her was to make her and her thirty thousand pounds the property of Alfred, with as little delay as convenient; her second was to worry, lecture, and persuade Lina to abjure her heretical training, and embrace the true faith, as they had done. Against both of which propositions, Lina, undutiful girl that she was, rebelled. Two or three suitors had sought her hand, but the moment their wishes became known, aunt had sent them off flying, like she did me, when I presumed to fall in love