« AnteriorContinuar »
the most retired part of the grounds. Walls and hedges shall enclose a space large enough, to keep away even the air contaminated by human beings. You shall possess the master-key of all around; and I shall be the only mortal who shall have power to visit you. Remember! old age must
You saved my young life, and it is my duty-my privilege—my pleasure-my right! -to watch over and protect you in your declining years !"
The Dwarfie was overcome by the warmth of Miss Delassaux's words and manner, through which her heart so eloquently spoke out. She leaned her head upon the hand and the lap of the only being who had really sympathised with her since the death of her angelic mistress. She wept copiously; her humanity returned full upon her, and, giving way to it at once, she yielded to Eliza's wish.
Die My niece, my daughter, welcome to my care.
Such his fell glances, as the fatal light
Ah! I'm betray'd, and all my guilt discover'd.
WHEN Eliza and Amherst returned to the house, they found the drawing-room again crowd. ed. Lord Eaglesholme alone was absent.--A group of wondering servants were clustered together at the door,--and even Hawkins, had dared to show his face among them.
Eliza had no sooner advanced within the circle, where Lady Deborah was, than Sir William Percival took the young lady's trembling hand, and presented her to her aunt as the daughter and rightful heiress of Sir Marmaduke Delassaux. The mighty Lady pressed forward to embrace her niece, with an artful flood of tears ;
but though she acted well, it was evident that it was nothing but acting.
Why,” said she, in a theatrical tone, “phy should I have been thus long condemned by a cruel fate, to estrange from my bosom her, whose right to the chief place there is so undoubted?" She looked at Eliza with unfeigned astonishment, which she was unable to conceal." Yes," said she, “ there are indeed lineaments in that countenance, which, were there no other evidence, would, of themselves, be sufficient to mark you for a Delassaux-" She hid her face in her handkerchief for some moments as if deeply affected ; then, lifting up her head with an air of uncommon grandeur, and waving her hand round towards the servants, to command their attention,-“ will henceforth," continued she, “ consider this young lady as the representative of the ancient house of Delassaux and Brokenhurst, and as the only issue of Sir Marmaduke Delassaux, and Dame Isobel Magdalene St Clair, his wife ; and, consequently, as the rightful possessor of the house and noble estates of Delassaux and Brokenhurst. By the care of Providence she has been preserved, and I now, with pride and joy, welcome
her to her home, and to this beating bosom.” So saying she again embraced her, whilst a buzz of approbation issued from every mouth but that of Hawkins.
The little man came slowly forward, and bowing, at some distance, in a cringing manner, began to address the lady who was thus formally installed in her rights :
“Hem !-Madam!-Miss Delassaux ! - Miss Delassaux of Delassaux and Brokenhurst,-I humbly presume to offer my lowly duty to you, Madam-and to congratulate and felicitate you on your rightful accession to your property, and to express the supreme joy-I feel on the glorious and joyful occasion, Ma'am, when Heaven has sent so beautiful, and so sensible, and so genteel a young lady to rule over us. And hoping that you may be induced to continue me in those services, which have been now for so many years devoted to the happiness and well-being of the very considerable population of your estates, as well as to the best interests of my employer, then in possession, I go to hasten the kindling of bonfires, and the ringing of bells, and the drinking of ale, that the glad tidings may speedily spread from
knoll to knoll, and from steeple to steeple, and from mouth to mouth, until the whole county of Kent shall resound them from one end to the other !"
Unfortunately for him, Eliza had already learned enough of the kpavish and hard-hearted Mr Hawkins. She felt a new spirit animate her, as she contemplated the vast field of usefulness now opening before her, the idea of entertaining such a prime minister as Mr Hawkins was revolting to her thoughts. After kindly replying to the pro fessions of her aunt, she turned round suddenly upon the astonished steward, who was still going on with his fulsome address, and instantly struck him dumb by her reply.
“I know not, Sir, upon what grounds you presume thus to address me. Though a stranger. I am already well acquainted with your villainy towards the unhappy young lady, whom, for no fault of her's, it pleased fortune to place on an eminence only to give her the greater fall. Nor am I less aware of the tyranny you have exercised over the unfortunate people under your control. I thank Heaven, that, on committing to me so great a charge, it has placed you like a