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Louisa. Uncertainty, hesitation, revolt of the mind against the plan of life which he had adopted, contending within his breast against the generous election which he had made.
The struggle was severe, the victory complete; and the visions of ambition faded from his fancy. His better thoughts, being assisted, it must be confessed, by reflections on the vanity of contending in the showy distinctions of life with others who had so greatly the advantage at the outset; and by the sweet hope, that the creature he might be rather said to worship than to love, so deep and devoted were his feelings, might be won to prefer the refined offer before the dreams of magnificence and pride.
We will not say how long it took Charles to beat down all those evil spirits which crowded upon his fancy; but at length he returned quietly to his studies, with pretty nearly his usual cheerfulness; and he concluded the evening by a game at chess with Mr. Mildmay.
And who was Charles ?
Charles was the son of Mr. Mildmay's oldest friend, one of those ill-paid labourers of a wealthy establishment, who, in return for a life of toil and rigid self-denial, reap the scanty remuneration of two hundred and fifty pounds a year-but who look for, and who receive, in recompense of their wellprincipled efforts, that which all the gold on earth is too poor to buy--self-respect, peace of mind, and that hope which fadeth not away.
He had died, and left one only son to follow in his foot. steps; to labour in the same vineyard, and strive, as he had done, in the cause of religion and virtue-of a religion, pure and evangelical, neither recommended by canting grimace nor by enthusiastic excitement-of a virtue founded in love, and in all that is generous and disinterested in human nature.
Charles had lived long enough with his father to adopt his views and imbibe his principles; and, intimately persuaded of the truth of revelation, and of its vast importance in aiding the progress of mankind, he had cheerfully dedicated himself to the great object of opening and maintaining in the minds of men, that communication with, that faith in, and that sense of moral responsibility to a higher nature, which he regarded as the only true means of perfecting his race.
He came not to the ministry to serve, as too many serve, with a divided and secular heart-with a narrow, bigoted, uninquiring mind. Persuaded of the vast importance of the duty in which he had engaged, he had spared no pains to understand the true meaning of the revelation that he preached; nor had he neglected to improve every faculty which might render such preaching useful and acceptable to his fellowcreatures. In pursuit of this object, he had accepted the offer of Mr. Mildmay-an elegant man, and an elegant scholar,
o profit by such assistance as his library, (the only thing
of value which the vicar possessed,) and his experience, might afford; and under his roof he was, with this design, at prese ent domesticated; how much to the peril of his heart may be easily surnised.
In the mean time, Mrs. Digby's carriage had continued to roll forward, and Louisa, divided between Mrs. Digby's agreeable conversation and no small share of anxious speculation upon what should befall her on her first arrival at Dangertield, thought, we are sorry to say, very much less of Charles in his corner than she had promised to do.
She was horrorstruck on hearing that Mrs. Digby was not able to accept Mrs. Carlton's invitation, and hali inclined to regret that it had been accepted for herself, when she, whom she had regarded as her protector and adviser in this important moment of her life, could not be present.
However, she rallied her spirits as well as she might, and endeavoured to dissipate her disagreeable feelings of terror and timidity by looking out upon the trees, and admiring the various landscapes as they shot by. But what young timid girl ever found trees or landscapes effectual to quiet her beating heart, or to clear her choked and husky throat. At length the white stone front of Dangerfield, with its large windows and pillared portico, appeared, surrounded by lofty trees, and standing in the centre of a very handsome park, among the glades of which the deer were feeding, mingling with the cattle and with the trees, in those beautiful groups which add so much life and ornament to park scenery-the bright sun shining on their velvet hides and branching horns, as they tossed their heads, and cantered lightly away from the approaching carriage.
Gate after gate opened and clanged to; at length they stopped at the door of the splendid mansion.
It was late, and Mrs. Digby had time merely to alight and introduce Louisa. This she very kindly did, for she understood her young friend perfectly; and fine lady and woman of the world as she was, and for many years had been, she had not forgotten to sympathize with the fantastical terrors of a young unformed girl.
They went into the breakfastroom, but it was quite empty, and looked forlorn enough-all the chairs and tables deserted, and in disorder; everybody was gone up to dress.
Presently, however, a very elegant young lady, with long ringlets, confined by an airy apology for a cap—a shadowy thing of lace and pink riband, with an elegant costume, en demi toilette-her state and circumstance, however, marked by an embroidered apron with pockets, in the true theatrical femme de chambre style, presented herself, and, delivering proper compliments, apologies, and messages from Mrs. Carlton, whom the lateness of the hour had already sent to her dressingroom, begged to have the pleasure of showing Miss Mildmay to her apartment.
Mrs. Digby then hastily took leave, and Louisa was consigned to the care of mademoiselle.
The two young ladies proceeded together, through a vast and splendid hall, and long echoing galleries, to a dressingroom furnished with all those luxuries with which modern taste and modern nonsense combine to adorn and to obstruct modern apartments.
Here the busy French woman was speedily employed in visiting the contents of Louisa's trunk; and having cast them aside with a look of supreme contempt, she produced from the hanging wardrobe an elegant dinner dress, prepared by the provident care of Mrs. Carlton.
Louisa felt too shy to remonstrate ; and, indeed, the decisive air of the French lady soon showed that all remonstrance would have been in vain: she submitted, therefore, once more, to the unpleasant obligation; and with a mingled feeling of embarrassment, humiliation, and gratified vanity, saw her beautiful form reflected in the Psyche.
The toilette was completed; the embroidered handkerchief of “woven air,” perfumed with Bourgeois and Hueguenin's best and sweetest, (from whose depôt in the Haymarket, Mrs. Carlton uniformly replenished her stores,) had just been placed in her hand; when Mrs. Carlton, in the full dress and glorious embonpoint of handsome, well-preserved, fifty-four entered the apartment.
“ Charming ! lovely! My dearest Miss Mildmay, I am delighted to see you, and looking so well! How is Mr. Mildmay? And your sister ? Quelle fraicheur !-quelle grace, Rosalie! Allow me to say, my dear Miss Mildmay, I am perfectly enchanted-I flattered myself that you would be an acquisition to my party. But, indeed! c'est la veritable Cendrillon, n'est ce pas, Rosalie ?” turning to the maid.
“ Mademoiselle est vraiment charmante ! tournoure parfaite ! air distingué !" &c., &c., fell in flattery's gentlest dew from Rosalie's lips. While Louisa, depressed and mortified by such incense, hung her lovely head, the very picture of sulfering sensibility.
Čome, my love! take my arni,” said Mrs. Carlton, much elated by the idea of the beauty she was about to produce in her drawingroom. And Louisa, blushing and trembling, the delicacy and softness of her appearance enhanced by the decided and somewhat masculine air of her companion, was ushered into a saloon, splendidly lighted, and filled with a brilliant crowd of fashionably dressed men and women, engaged in the usual manner of such assemblies before dinner.
There was the regular party to be met with in all fashionable novels, if not in all fashionable country houses, upon these occasions. There was a duke and a duchess, who are always everything that is most exemplary and amiable-he, is usually a great agriculturist; she, an embroiderer of flower pots and Albanians; they are apt to be a little dull. There was a Sir Harry-a great foxhunter. There was a Mr. Crawford-a man of conversation and gastronomy about town; very witty, and very terrible. Two or three Lady Marys and Lady Selinas-amiable, unaffected, accomplished girls; characters such as our modern system of education is so admirably calculated to produce.
And there was the usual scheming mother, and her vicious trio of portionless handsome daughters; those perennial victims to the moral of our most moral stories—those unhappy examples of young ladies, without fortune and without connection, who dare to commit the heinous and everrecurring crime of setting caps (which they never wear) at rich and handsome young men of fashion-poaching, as it were, upon the peculiar preserves of the Lady Marys and Lady Selinas.
These, with the usual allowance of colonels in the guards, and well-dressed young men of straw, composed a party, the description of which will satisfy, we trust, the anxious reader, that the author of the pages he honours by holding in his hand, however deficient in other respects, may, in this most truly important particular, be implicitly depended upon.
When represented in this careless, off-hand manner, there seems nothing very awful in one of these grand assemblies; but to a country girl, educated to respect dignities as she ought to do, the blaze of light as the door opened—the ele. gant and particularly well-dressed groups that were scattered about the room-the very size and splendour of the room itself, were all appalling, and overwhelmed her with that unaccountable terror called shyness, which drives one almost distraught-and compared to which the meeting with a lion in the desert,“ provided one had a sword,” were nothing.
She blushed and hesitated-and, had it not been for the very substantial arm of Mrs. Carlton, might have found difficulty in getting along. That lady, however, fully sensible of the value of what she had to produce, led her exultingly forward, encouraging her by her flattery and her smiles ; and was rewarded for her good nature, and the prudence of her application to Carsąn, by seeing the eyes of the whole
assembly fixed in admiration upon her remarkably beautiful protegée.
The colonels, and the young men of all descriptions, not excepting the witty Mr. Crawford himself, were attracted ; and the whisper of " Who on earth can she be?" “ Where can she spring from ?" ran round the room.
Mrs. Carlton, excessively delighted, made her way to her own particular sofa, carrying her favourite with her.
“My dear Louisa, as Mr. Mildmay has so kindly confided you to my care, let me regard you while I have the pleasure of keeping you here as my daughter. You will always find your place near me”--and she seated Louisa by her side, as she took her place in her own accustomed corner, where she was speedily surrounded by young men.
“A very fine creature, upon my word,” said my lord duke. “Do you know where she came from ?"
Sir Henry stretched his legs, and yawned—Sir Harry is always a vulgar sort of foxhunting person.
- Upon my soul, I have no idea-yet, stay, I think she is Parson Mildmay's daughter. I once rode in there to get luncheon, after a fox chase, and, egad, very near rode over this very pretty girl. I remember she had got on a sort of blue pianafore, and a torn bonnet, and such a pair of boots ! However, luckily, no mischief was done; I reined up in time—though I did think she was nothing but the turkey girl; for I remember she had a blue pianafore on, a torn bonnet, and such a pair of boots!”
My lord duke inquired no further.
One or two Lady Marys, who happened to be within hearing, looked, I am sorry to say, rather ill-naturedly pleased at this description. They were very highbred, elegant, aristocratic girls; and they cherished a very proper antipathy against lowborn, vulgar beauties, especially if they chanced to be slender, and presumed to have small feet. So they put about this story of Parson Mildmay's daughter and the blue pinafore, and, sad to say, the value of Mrs. Carlton's pet lion was very considerably diminished, even before dinner was announced.
Now, as every novel, French and English, teaches us, and it is to be feared, with more truth than lies in most things which they teach us, that, in this age of ours, beauty, without the prestige of wealth or rank, has almost entirely lost its effect upon the imagination of young men of fashionnobody will be surprised to hear that Colonel Cadogan, arrived at that age when favoris are died, wigs à la royale worn, and to which clings a slight tincture of ancient gallantry in manner, and of the oldfashioned taste for pretty faces, was the only one of all these fine gentlemen who approached to offer his arm to conduct Miss Mildmay to the dinner table; the younger gentlemen, after a recognisance or