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ing no longer any jealousy of Mr. Berrington respecting Lydia, I procured the benefice for him: after which, whether from gratitude, or whether from seeing something more serious in me than formerly, he came oftener to see me, and oftener entered into serious conversation with me. ,
“In the mean time, I heard frequently from my daughter. For some weeks, she dated her letters from Paris; then from Switzerland; from Rome; and finally from Naples ; in which last place, she said the duke had determined to remain some time, having met with an old acquaintance. In these letters, my Lydia 'gave me some lively descriptions of what she had seen, though she seldom mentioned her husband: but I was sorry, after awhile, to perceive the animation of her descriptions becoming less, and an increased restraint stealing over all her correspondence. I did not dare, at present, to make any remarks in my answers signifying that I had observed this; much less could I put any searching question to her. My uneasiness, however, continued to increase, though I could not define its cause: and, in consequence, I felt conderable relief, when at the end of more than eighteen months, I was informed by my daughter, that she expected to be in England almost as soon as her letter, and begging me to hasten to one of the duke's seats, which I shall call Bellevue, to which place they intended to repair immediately on their landing; the duke having sent orders that preparations should there be made for their reception.
“I waited only till a second letter informed me that the family was actually in England, before I set out for Bellevue; where, after a tedious journey, I arrived on the third day, about three o'clock in the afternoon, full of anxious and tender expectation. It was a moment of exultation, when my eye first beheld the plantations clothing almost one entire side of the horizon, and caught a remote view of the turrets of the magnificent family mansion. As I passed the park lodge, I inquired of the porter if the duchess was well; and being told that he had seen her the day before in an open carriage in the park, I was satisfied. We drove up to the house
through a long extent of woodland prospect, which served but to heighten my expectations of the more cultivated scenery which surrounded the house.
“The Castle of Bellevue had been built in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and retained all the magnificence of those times. It stood on an elevated spot in the centre of a lawn enclosed by woods. We drove up to the front door of the mansion, and ascending an immense flight of steps, I was ushered into a hall illuminated by a skylight, and encircled with a gallery supported by pillars of marble, between each of which was a statue fixed on a pedestal, and large as life. This hall opened into an. other, which extended to the opposite front of the house; and through the doors, which were then open, I caught a view of an extensive sheet of water, pouring down from a high ground covered with woods, till it fell dashing and foaming into a lake which spread between the house and the hill. On each side of the first hall were doors opening into various long suites of apartments, some of which being open, displayed as much magnificence as my ambitious mind could have coveted. On each side of the hall was also a superb flight of stairs winding round to the corridor, and being of fine old oak with carved ornaments, conveyed an idea of ancient grandeur, very pleasing at that moment to my imagination.
“Being known to be the mother of the lady of the mansion, I was received with the utmost deference by the servants in waiting, who led me up stairs, through many handsome apartments, into an elegant dressingroom, where I presently found myself in the arms of my daughter. The approach to this room was through an ante-chamber, filled with beautiful exotic plants in pots, which scattered a rich perfume through both apartments. The dressing-room itself was furnished with the utmost elegance; but the windows being shaded with rose-coloured muslin, which threw a gloom upon all within the apartment, prevented me, at first, from observing the extreme paleness of my daughter's countenance. I was, however, considerably surprised by the excessive agitation which she betrayed during this first interview ; insomuch that, being terrified, I ran to one of the win
dows, drew aside the curtain, and thus threw the full light of day upon her face. Her very dejected appearance added to my terror, and returning to her I put my arms round her, and pressed her to my bosom. 'My Lydia! my child ! my daughter! I said, "are you ill ? or are you unhappy? Beloved one, speak, and free me from this intolerable uncertainty.'
“She answered only by a renewal of her tears, and by laying her head upon my bosom.
“Being now convinced that all was not as it should be, my heart instantly reproached me as being the cause of her affliction. But looking for some one on whom to throw a part of the blame, I mentioned her husband, asking if he was kind to her, and expressing high resentment on the supposition that he could be otherwise.
“On hearing this question, she seemed to make an effort to recover herself: but without precisely answering my question, she assured me that she enjoyed many, many blessings, and that her agitation was to be attributed only to the sight of a parent from whom she had been so long parted.
“I endeavoured to be satisfied with this explanation, and anxiously waited to see some return of colour in her cheeks: for her paleness was alarming, and I earnestly wished to attribute her agitation to the suddenness of our meeting.
“I sat with my daughter during the remainder of the morning, when among other subjects, she communicated * the agreeable news, that she had some hopes of giving her husband an heir. She also entertained me with several accounts of what she had seen abroad; by which she succeeded, in some degree, in allaying those fears for her happiness which her extreme agitation on first seeing me had excited.
“There were at this time many visiters at Bellevue, all of whom were that morning engaged with the duke in some party of pleasure abroad. We were therefore left in perfect tranquillity till about five o'clock; when the sound of carriages apprized us of their return; shortly after which my son-in-law entered the room where we were, and having addressed me with politeness, though I thought with some degree of coldness, he abruptly pro
ceeded to tell my daughter, that Madame de Bleville had unfortunately fallen from her horse, but he hoped without receiving any serious injury.
“To this remark, Lydia only replied, 'I am glad that she is not much hurt; and then speaking of something else, I asked my son-in-law who this Madame de Bleville was; adding, 'You did not mention her name, my Lydia, when you enumerated your guests.'
“My daughter made no reply to this remark; but her husband, I thought, looked at her in a manner which said much, and taking up my question, he answered with vivacity, 'Madame de Bleville is one of the most charming French women I ever saw; and this is saying very, very much, as any one may know who is acquainted with the delightful vivacity of the females on the Contibent.'
“Vivacity! I replied: 'we will not contest with them the palm of wit and animation : they certainly may excel us in these points, being strangers to those restraints of propriety which English women count superior to all the glitter and eclat of foreign levity.'
“To this remark my son-in-law made no answer; but turning round on his heel, and looking at his watch, he left the room; when I should certainly have questioned my daughter further upon the history of Madame de Bleville, had she not warned me that I had little time to lose in preparing for dinner, and affectionately offered to lead me to my apartments.
“ While dressing for dinner, many thoughts occurred of no very agreeable nature; but I was scarcely ready when my sweet daughter knocked at the door, and begged to be permitted to lead me down and introduce me to the company then assembled in the house.
“I shall never forget the sweet appearance which my Lydia made when she presented herself before me. Always lovely and beautiful as she had been from her earliest years, there was now a touching softness, a finished elegance in her whole manner, seldom seen but in those who frequent the highest circles; together with an appearance of deep humility, which altogether rendered her, at least in my eyes, the most accomplished example of loveliness I had ever seen ; and the extreme pale
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Tone 66° Happiness, she replied, forcing a smile, does not depend on the size or magnificence of a house."
Tó *I hope, however, my Lydia,' I said, 'that the magnificence of a house does not impair the happiness of its owner.
26"It affects it neither way, my dear Madam,' she replied ; and hastened forward to the door of a superb drawing-room, which we approached by a large antechamber.
“ This drawing-room was very full of company, each individual of which rose as we entered, and as my daughter introduced me: after which the party separated lesi into different groups, of which some were standing, some t i sitting, and others lounging in an easy and careless way against the chairs and sofas of those who were seated. La Several of the persons who were scattered about the room began immediately to gather round my daughter; ftat and I was -much struck with the calm politeness and ease of her manner, wherein a becoming dignity was as remarkable as the most perfect humility; while the sparkling intelligence she discovered was mingled with an evident desire to keep as much in the background as her elevated rank and situation in the family could justify.
“The individuals who were gathered immediately round my daughter, appeared to be persons of the first breeding, and I was pleased with the unfeigned respect which they paid her. The size of the room allowed them to converse apart without whispering or interfering with the rest, and the topics they chose would have done credit to any society. But I was not so entirely
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