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ccived that his were fixed on her features, with a deep, earnest, scrutinising gnze, as though lie strove to read in her countenance the history of her inner life. For a moment she met his gaze, with a firm, truthful, unshrinking look; then, unable to bear the power of that eagle eye, she turned away with a blush and a smile, half tender, half reproachful, for Annie was no stoic, and every feeling of her heart revealed itself in her tell-tale countenance. Lewis could bear it no longer—speak he must.
"Miss Grant—Annie," he said, and as he pronounced her christian name his deep voice trembled with suppressed emotion; "When I came here to-day I had no thought of seeing you; but accident, (if, indeed, in this strange complicated life anything may be so considered,) has determined it otherwise, and the opportunity shall not be lost. Not very many days since, I was so grievously ill, that the chances were strongly against my rallying; it has pleased God to spare my life a little longer; but such an escape as this, gives rise to deep and solemn thoughts. While I lay upon the bed of sickness, which had so nearly proved the bed of death, I learned to read my own heart—my past life glided as it were in review before me, and my faults and errors, no longer hidden by the mists of self-deceit or of passion, revealed themselves clearly in the light of an awakened conscience: above them all, stood forth in its evil beauty, the masterdemon pride, and I saw how it had embittered my whole existence, and how, if ever I hoped to obtain even peace of mind, much more happiness, I must relax no effort until 1 should subdue it. Annie, I have loved you long; you cannot, do not doubt it; but because I deemed you richer and of higher rank than myself, I was too proud to own it to you. Years of mental torture have been my punishment: I do not complain that this should have been so—I do not impugn the justice of the decree; on the contrary, I ackuowledge it with deep contrition. I sinned, and it was fitting I should pay the penalty, however bitter;—but there was a grief I was not prepared for, and in which 1 could not discern retributive justice; for whatever a slanderous world may say, my love for you has been deep, pure and disinterested, the truest, most earnest feeling of my inmost soul. Annie, I will be frank with you, and even if my presumption ruins my cause, I have suffered loo uiuch from concealment, not to tell you the whole truth. When, distracted by my hopeless passion for you, and maddened by the insults of one who is now no more, I tore myself away from Broadhurst, and left you, as I deemed, for ever, the most bitter pang proceeded from a secret belief, which even despair could not banish, that I read in your soft glances the assurance that had I dared to urge my suit, I might have learned I had not loved iu rain; and in the midst of my desolation I was happy, deeply happy, iu the thought. Then, a ray of light broke in upon the darkness—a strange chain of events led to the discovery that I was heir to an ancient and honourable name aud an ample fortune, and 1 waited but to obtain legal evidence of
the fact, ere I hastened to tell you of my affection, iu the fond hope of eliciting that I was beloved again: once assured of that, I determined that nothing should prevent my winning your hand—all obstacles must yield before such a love as mine. With these feelings burning in my breast, imagine the dismay which overwhelmed me, on learning by a letter from your father, that scarcely twenty-four hours after I had quitted Broadhurst, you, of your own free will, had renewed your engagement with your cousin. Hear me out," he continued, as Annie, who with blushing cheeks and tearful eyes, had remained as though spellbound, drinking in his every tone, attempted eagerly to interrupt him—"Hear me out, and theu if you can explain this mystery, the devotion of a life-time shall plead forgiveness for my having misjudged you. How I lived through the wretchedness that letter caused me, I do not know. I believed I was going mad, for a time 1 was mad, aud railed at Heaven fur Latin; created a being so fair and false as then I deemed you. Oh! the misery, the heavy crushing grief, when the heart adores, with all its faculty of loving, one whom the reason points out as light, fickle, and all unworthy to have called forth such true affection. For two years this black veil of doubt and mistrust hung between your image and my spirit—I cast from n:e any idea of claiming the rank and riches that were my birthright, for 1 valued them only as they could bring inc nearer to you; aud went forth a wanderer, tormented by the consciousness, doubly humiliaticg to one of my proud nature, that although I believed you unworthy of my affection, I still loved you devotedly as ever. The first person who won me from my gloomy thoughts, and led me to hope your conduct might be satisfactorily explained, was your kind friend Laura, who in her honest singleness of heart, could not believe in the possibility of the ficklenessof which I imagined you guilty—aud I, (though her arguments failed to convince my reason) how I loved her for her unbelief I I could say much more,—could tell you of the agony of mind I endured, when unseen by you, I watched you leaning on hi* aim, and smiling upon him, and deemed my worst fears realized, and that you loved him ; but it is needless—Annie, I cannot look on you and believe you false; if indeed you ever loved mc, I know that, despi:c appearances, you have been true to Unit affection, and that you love me still. Annie, dearest, tell me that it is so?"
He ceased, and with his bauds clasped, as those of some votary adoring his saint, sat gazing on the Apr.' of smiles and tears, that played over the expressive features of her he loved, until reading in her tender eyes the secret her lips refused to speak, happiness lent him strength, and springing to her side, he drew her unresistingly towards him, and reproved the coral lips for their silence, by scaling his forgiveness upou them with a loving ki=s. And as Annie, albeit there is no reason to doubt that she was an exceedingly moral and well-conducted young lady, did not appear to discern any great impropriety in this act, but on the contrary, disengaged herself from his embrace gently and tenderly, the probabilities arc, looking at i the matter in a correct light, and with an artist eye, (an optical delusion, popularly supposed to fulfil one | of the main duties of charity, by clothing the naked,)' that the view she took of the affair was a right one. And then by degrees, having declared that it was impossible she could ever tell him anything about it, I but that Laura knew,—would not he go and ask Laura at once? (a proposition Lewis coolly but decidedly ignored,) she contrived, she never knew how, to enable bim to guess the truth; which he did very quickly and cleverly, and found so perfectly satisfactory, that his anger (such mild auger!) instantly changed to the most unmitigated pity, an emotion so nearly akin to that other Christian virtue, love, that we fear we shall by ourselves open to the charge of writing an actual love scene, if we pursue the subject any further. And u it is a well ascertained fact, that young persons strictly brought up, and never allowed to inflame their imaginations and gain perverted views of life, by perusing those inventions of the enemy of man(and woman-) kind, works of fiction, either never fall in love at all, or do so according to parental act of parliament, passed in the year one of the reign of good ting Mammon, we (lest we incur the high displeasure of any of this monarch's respectable subjects) will say no more about it. But when Laura, grieved at what she considered the unsatisfactory issue of her interview with Richard Ercre, returned to her boudoir to make the best report her conscience would allow of to Annie, she was especially surprised, and a little frightened to discover her friend, with heightened colour, downcast eyes, and a bright smile playing about the corners of her mouth, sitting on a sofa by the side of what Laura would have taken for the ghost of Lewis Arundel, only that ghosts do not in a general way look so intensely happy, and arc not usually addicted to holding young ladies' hands caressingly between their spectral fingers. However, the ghost soon vindicated his claim to the protection of the habeas corpus act, by rising and shaking Laura's hand cordially, and taking the initiative in conversation, by exclaiming—
"My dear kind Mrs. Leicester, I owe all my happiness to you."
Then Laura began to surmise what had happened, and in the excess of her joy, scolded Lewis so vigorously for his madness iu venturing out, and Annie for her folly in allowing him to talk, that she was forced to stop in the midst of her harangue, to declare herself a virago, and to laugh so heartily at her own vehemence, that in order to save herself from becoming hysterical, she was fain to betake herself to her own bedroom, and indulge in the feminine luxury of a good cry. And then Lewis and Annie sat and looked into each other's eyes; their joy was too full for words, but such silence as theirs is far more eloquent, for as there is a grief too deep for tears, so is there happiness which language is powerless to express, and such happiness did they experience at that moment. At length, Lewis spoke.
"Dearest," he said, in a low soft voice that trembled with the tenderness which filled his soul, "I must leave you now: there arc many reasons which forbid my meeting your father till we reach England, and I am prepared to prove to him, all that your trustful loving heart believes, because I tell you that it is so., Until we meet in our own happy country, which for the future will be as dear to me for your sake, as lately it has been for the same cause hateful, our eugagement must remain a secret from all but Laura."
"But will that be right?" pleaded Annie, looking up wistfully into the face of him who would be from thenceforth her oracle.
It is a fearful responsibility when, through the affections, we gain such a hold over a living soul, that the judgment lies dormant, and the thing which seems good in our eyes appears so in theirs also; such influence is indeed a mighty talent committed to our charge, and most careful should we be lest wc abuse the trust reposed in us. Lewis felt this strongly, and paused to re-considcr his decision. His chief reason for wishing that General Grant might not be immediately informed of his declaration, was the difficult position in which it would place that gallant officer in regard to Lord Bellcfield's relations. How could he, for instance, expect Lord Ashford to believe that his brother-in-law had used all possible exertion to secure the murderer of his son, when Annie Grant, that son's destined bride, was affianced to a man who, but for the catastrophe which had taken place, would have met Lord Bellefield in a duel? and the altercation and subsequent challenge were so completely a matter of notoriety ia Venice, that it was certain that some account of them, probably an exaggerated and distorted one, would find its way to England. But this was a reason which he could not give Annie, as he correctly imagined that the affair at the Casino had been kept from her knowledge. Thus, the more he reflected the more certain he became that his original determination was a right one. Accordingly, he replied:—
"Trust me, dearest, concealment is as foreign to my nature as to your own. My faults (and I have only too many) do not lie in that direction; but, to the best of my judgment, I believe that in wishing your father should, fur the present, remain ignorant of our engagement, I am consulting your interest and his, quite as much as my own. Believe me, love, I would sacrifice anything,—even the cherished hope of one day calling you my own, rather than influence you to do aught for winch your conscience could afterwards upbraid you."
And Annie did believe him, with the strong unhesitating faith of perfect love. Had he advanced the most incredible assertion,—declared, for instance, that he had discovered perpetual motion, squared the circle, and set the Thames on fire,—Annie would equally and implicitly have believed him. Had he deceived her, her only refuge from an universal scepticism would have been to die. Then eame the "sweet sorrow" of a lovers' parting,—sweet in the many evidences of affection which the occasion calls forth, and sorrowful by reason of the anxious thoughts to which quitting those we love, even under the happiest auspices, necessarily gives rise. And Annie's bright eyes were dim with tears, and Lewis's mouth, no longer sternly compressed, trembled with the emotion he in vain attempted to conceal, as, with a murmured "God bless and protect you, my own darling!" he tore himself away.
In the meanwhile, scarcely had Richard Frere quitted the Grassiui Palace, than he encountered General Grant, fretting and fuming under the weight of a burden of minor miseries, and full of complaints of the abominable misdemeanours of the Venetian officials, amongst which, by no means the lightest, was the culpable stupidity which prevented them from speaking or understanding English, together with the obstinate prejudice with which they refused to acknowledge, that by adding the letter O to the termination of words in that language, they immediately became Italian—
"I said 'requiro vno passporto' to them, sir ! half-a dozen times over, and nobody shall ever make me believe they did not know what that meant!" was his indignant complaint.
Of course, Frere's ready sympathy entailed on him a request that if he could spare the time to go back to the office with him, the General would esteem it such a great favour, and of course, though his conscience reproached him for being away from "poor solitary Lewis" for so many hours, he did what was required of him; and of course, having said A,—B, C, and D, followed as a matter of necessity, until, before he had gone through the alphabet of the General's commissions, several hours had elapsed, and Lewis having found his way back to his lodgings, was reclining in an easy chair, enjoying a feast of happy memories, and bright anticipations, when Frere, hot, tired, and dissatisfied with his morning's work, flung down his cotton umbrella, and throwing himself, very i much unbuttoned, in a kind of dishevelled heap, upon the nearest chair, began—
"Well, confound this climate, say I, where a man can't get through a morning's business without coming home more like a piece of hot boiled beef, than a temperate Christian—here's a state of dissolution for a free-born Briton to be in. I tell you what it is, young man, if you keep me hore much longer, I shall become a mere walking skeleton—flesh and blood literally can't stand it, and I shall have to go home and be married in my bones."
"By which ceremony I suppose you hope to become possessed of an additional rib, to make up for your loss of substance," suggested Lewis, smiling at the odd quaint way in which his friend described his troubles.
"Yes! it's all "very well for you to sit there and laugh at a fellow," returned Frere, grumpily, "but if you had been parading about this oven of a place for two hours, at Governor Grant's tail, as I have been,
you would find it no such laughing matter, I can tea you. He is as obstinate and wrong-headed as an elderly mule, too; making a fuss about trifles that do not signify a bit, one way or the other. Why cannot he take life coolly and quietly as—as—?"
Here he came to an abrupt conclusion, having discovered that the grumbling tenor of the speech, was somewhat at variance witli the ending he had intended to make to it,—viz. "as I do." Lewis finished it for him.
"As a sensible man should do, I suppose you were going to observe."
Frere detected the covert satire, and shook his fct threateningly at. his friend.
"You had better be civil, you know, or I may be tempted to give you the thrashing I have owed ;ous» long. I could not have a better opportunity than now, when you are so weak that you can scared; walk across the room alone."
"Perhaps I may be stronger than you are aware of," returned Lewis; "what do you think about on being able to go out, for instance"—
"Thiuk," replied Frere dogmatically, "why, I think that if you attempt it a week hence, it will be too soon. Dr. Fullerfee says, a fortnight, but his is scarcely an unprejudiced opinion; however, I'll take care you don't set foot outside this room within a week."
Lewis turned away to hide a smile, while Frere, still suffering from heat, and not having another available button, which could be respectably unfastened, pulled off his neckcloth, and thus relieved, resumed—
"Who do you think I've been lecturing this morning?"
Lewis professed his ignorance, and Frere continued, "Only a certain young lady, in whose proceedir.n I've an idea you take particular interest,—one Miss Annie Grant."
Lewis started as Frere pronounced this name, but recovering himself, asked in an elaborately indifferent tone of voice, "Pray when did this interesting colloquy take place, and what might be the subject thereof?"
*' The colloquy, as you call it, took place some four hours ago; and the subject thereof, was the young woman's conduct towards your precious self. No*, don't go and fly into a passion," continued Frere,.'-' Lewis coloured, and seemed about to make some has!; rejoinder; "remember, life ought to be taken easily Mj quietly by a sensible man, and of course yon consider yourself one,—but I took the liberty to tell Miss General Grant a few home truths, that she will be none the worse for hearing."
He then proceeded after his own fashion to girt w account of his conversation with Annie, and his subsequent interview with Laura, concluding his recital thus,—
"So the upshot of the whole affair, and a very unsatisfactory one I'm afraid you'll think it, is Iks When you had left Broadhurst, Ma'amselle Ann;*fouud herself in a bit of a fix, and not being a Bin or Rose Arundel, slip, after the fashion of her silly sex, did a weak and injudicious thing; but as I said to the other young woman, who, by the way, seems to have the best sense of the two, that's very different from doing a deliberately wicked one, and therefore, perhaps, Lewis may be induced to look over it."
"For heaven's sake, my dear fellow, don't tell me any more about it, you will drive me frantic with your detestable common-sense platitudes," exclaimed Lewis, springing from his chair impatiently; *' at least you would have done so," he continued more quietly, "if I had not happened to see Annie myself since your well-meant but somewhat unnecessary interview with her, and learned from her own sweet lips that she forgives me for having so hastily and ungenerously misjudged her."
"Eh! what! has the young woman been here in my absence," returned Frcre, greatly scandalized. "Oh! this will never do! I don't allow such liberties to be taken with my patient; besides, I don't consider the proceeding by any means a correct one; she might have found you in bed, with your nightcap on, for aught she could tell to the contrary."
"Do you know what is reported to have occurred when a mountain refused to come at Mahomet's bidding?" asked Lewis, quietly.
"Why Mahomet went to the mountain, to be sure, like an arrant humbug as he was; but what lias that got to do with the case in question? Why you don't mean to say," continued Frcre, as a sudden light broke in upon him; "you don't mean to say Wtat you've been to call upon her.'"
"I am afraid I must confess that such is the alarming fact," was the cool reply.
"Well! I have known many insane actions in my life certainly," growled Frere, making fruitless attempts lo re-unbutton his already enfranchised garments, '■ but this,"—here he nearly tore a wristband off his shirt, in his pursuit of coolness under difficulties,—"is the very maddest thing I ever did hear of—a man that was on the point of death here not ten days ago, to rush out of bed the moment one's back's turned, for the sake of seeing—"
"She is looking so sweetly pretty, Frcre," interrupted Lewis; "and those eyes—there never were such eyes seen in the world before."
"Oh, of course not," returned Frcre, viciously. "Patent double-actioned high-pressure sky-blue revolvers, made to look every way at once, see through mill-stones, and peep round the corner into the bargain, they are, no doubt; but if she could use them to no better purpose than to lure out, at the risk of his life, a foolish boy that ought to have had more sense;—but it's a mere waste of words talking to you," he continued, catching a smile on Lewis's features; "and here have I gone and ruined my other shirt, and this one is at the wash,—psha! I mean to say—hang me, if 1 know what I mean to say—only if you're not the worse for this—bother the boy, how absurdly happy he's looking! So it's all right between you, eh! Lewis? Well, Heaven knows, you have
suffered enough to deserve that it should be so, my poor fellow, and though you must have been mad to go out, and I ought to be very angry with you, yet, as it has ended, and always supposing it does not do you any harm, why I am heartily glad you did it;" and so saying, Frere, whose feelings, and the heat together, were decidedly too many for him, made a precipitate retreat into the bed-room, where, for the present, we will leave him.
LEWIS OUT-GENERALS THE GENERAL, AND THE
Lewis's recovery was not retarded by his imprudent
Mrs. Arundel, in her spirit of opposition to the artless and bereaved relict of the late Colonel Brahmin, had carried her flirtation with that victim of literary ambition, Dackcrel Dace, Esq. to such a pitch, that when the blighted barrister determined to resign his destiny altogether in favour of matrimony, and made her an offer of his limp hand, flabby heart, and five thousand a-year, to give piquancy and flavour to the tasteless and insipid "trifle" lie tendered for her acceptance, that volatile matron felt, that she had committed herself too deeply to retract, and that, setting off the money against the man, the bargain after all might not be such a bad one, and so said "Yes." llosc disliked the match greatly herself, and fearing Lewis would do so still more strongly, she ventured upon a mild remonstrance; but when once she had taken a thing into her head, Mrs. Aruudcl was very determined, and Rose gained nothing, but an intimation half-earnest, halfplayful, that as she (Mrs. Arundel) had not interfered with her daughter, when she chose to engage herself to Ursa Major, she expected the same forbearance (and she emphasized the vile pun most unmistakably,) to be exercised towards her, and her odd flsh, by which nickname she irreverently paraphrased the icthyologicnl appellation of her "future."
Lewis, as llosc had feared, was both hurt and annoyed at this fresh and convincing proof of L13 mother's volatile and worldly nature, but there was nothing in the connexion to justify his taking measures to break off the match; Mrs. Arundel was perfectly free to do as she pleased, and competent to decide her own course in life; so after one conversation with her ou the subject, the nature of which may be gathered from the result, he left the affair to take its own course. His first step on reaching London was to seek an interview with his legal adviser; their conference proving satisfactory, eventuated, (to use an affected but expressive word,) in sending for a patent cab, wherein Lewis ensconced himself, in company with a small lawyer and a large blue bag, and the trio drove to Park Crescent.
The feelings with which Lewis once again stood within the library of General Grant's mansion,— that library where he had first been engaged to act as poor Walter's tutor,—the room into which he and Annie had been shown on the night when he had rescued her from insult in the crush room of the opera,—the night of the unhappy Mellerton's suicide, — may well be imagined. Then he had been poor, friendless, in the situation of a dependent, and made to feel that situation, alike by the open insults of Lord BelleOeld, and the frigid courtesy of the General and Miss Livingstone, his youth, inexperience, sensitive disposition, and proud impassioned nature, rendering all these trials doubly galling to him; while, still more to embitter his lot, came that "sorrow's crown of sorrow," his ho| eless attachment to Annie. Now how different was his position! heir to an ancient and honourable name, and a princely fortune, his affection returned by her he loved, his rival swept from his path without his having to reproach himself with participation in the act whiclrwrought his downfall, his mind strengthened, his principles raised, and his faults diminished, if not eradicated, by the struggle he had undergone, and above all, his soul fortified by the recollection that, through God's grace, he had been enabled, at the turning point of his career, to sacrifice everything rather than sin against his
Maker's law! He received a moderately cordial welcome from General Grant, which tepid reception was occasioned by a conflict in the mind of that noble commander, between his strong regard for Lewis, a sense of the obligations he lay under to him, auJ in uncomfortable recollection of" his attachment to Annie, together with the moral impossibility of allowing his daughter to marry a man, whose present income consisted of the savings of an ex-tutorship, and whose prospects embraced the doubtful gainings of a professional artist; Lewis perceived his embarrassment, aud rightly conjectured its cause, which it was the object of his visit to remove. But General Grant's cold imperturbability had caused him so much annoyance in bygone hours, that a slight spice of what the French term esprit timliu actuated him, and under its influence he began, after a few desultory remarks—
"It may possibly not have escaped your mernorj, General, that, during a conversation I had the honour to hold with you before I finally quitted Broadhurst, I mentioned to you my devoted attachment to Miss Grant."
The General bowed in token of assent, but the cloud upon his brow grew darker. Not heeding this, Lewis continued :—
"I remember then expressing myself somewhat strongly against certain conventional prejudices relating to inequality of position, which opposed an effectual bar to the realization of my wishes. I was young and inexperienced then,—I have siuce become wiser in the ways of the world, and am perfectly aware, that in speaking as I did on that occasion, I alike wasted my words and your valuable time."
lie paused; and the General, who had been considerably puzzled during the speech to make out whit his companion might be aiming at, settled, to bison satisfaction, that the increased knowledge of human nature to which Lewis alluded, had shown the young man the folly of which be had been guilty, aud that this speech was intended as an apology,—nothing could be more respectful and correct. Accordinglj, the cloud vanished, as in his most gracious marine: he replied:—" Sir, your observations do you credit Pray set your mind at rest on this subject;—fortunate!/ my daughter never had the slightest suspicion c( your feelings towards licr; and, for my own part, I have long ago dismissed the affair from my recollection; aud you may rest assured, that in our future intercourse the subject shall never again be broached between us."
As the General alluded to his daughter's happr ignorance of Lewis's attachment, a slightly ironical smile curled that young gentleman's handsome mouth; repressing it instantly, he replied with a calm, almost nonchalant air,—" I scarcely see how that can be accomplished, General Grant, as the object of mj visit here to-day is to make you a formal proposal for your daughter's hand!"
If Lewis had suddenly risen from his chair, and, with the full power of his returning strength, hurled that article of furniture at General Grant's head, it