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place her pillows, and then return, with the small, delicate basin of nourishing broth, to tempt, if possible, the palled appetite, would Louisa pass a mouthful through her parched lips ; then would a swell of the heart forbid any farther attempt to swallow ; she would press Mary's hand, look up with eyes of melancholy gratitude, and bury her head in the pillows to conceal her tears.
Her favourite occupation was to tend Mary's infant. She would pace the garden for hours, with the little unconscious being nestling in her bosom; while her tears fell fast on the sleeping baby's face.
It was thus that Charles once saw her, unobserved himself. His eyes followed her for a few moments, and then became so extremely and suddenly ill that he was forced to throw himself on the ground, where he lay, burying his face with his hands, endeavouring to struggle with the excess of his pain.
Thus had he often seen her before, her soft eyes bent upon the child, the picture of peace and love. What sweet thoughts !-what fond ideas ! had that image once suggested to his mind. But now!
As pain subsided reflection rose, and a new light broke upon his mind. It may seem strange that the thought had never struck him before ; but so it was.. For the first time, the course of his ruminations led him to surmise the true cause of all the distress he deplored.
Slowly, unwillingly, the idea was admitted ; but, once admitted, it was followed by an instant intuitive persuasion of its truth; and every detail of her looks and conduct, which he now considered with the most painful attention, seemed but to prove the justice of his impressions.
When Charles returned to the house, his look was so excessively grave, and the expression of his countenance, though calm, was so full of suffering of pain almost amounting to despair--that it arrested the attention of Mary.
“ What can have happened, Charles ?" was her exclama
Louisa was aroused by it ; one glance was enough, and it was once again " Dear Charles," as she rose hastily, and inquired with the greatest sweetness what had so distressed him.
Charles, we know, was a philosopher, and tried hard to be a stoic, but the tears forced themselves into his eyes at this.
“My dear Louisa !” was all he could at the moment articulate; but he took the hand which she held out, and pressed it, in so earnest, yet so grave a manner, that even Lord William, had he been present, could not have objected.
"! It is nothing !” he at last found breath to say ; then, more gayly-"You know I think a good deal, and there is enough in this world to make all who think melancholy at times.”
Louisa sighed. “There is, indeed," said she.
That very evening, Charles received a letter from a fellow-collegian, which confirmed his worst apprehensions.
After rallying him upon the admiration which he was supposed to entertain for the fair nymph of the parsonage, this friend went on to say:
" That this, his first passion, with the usual ill or good luck of all sentimentalists, philosophers, and poets, was destined in all probability to come to an unsuccessful issue; for that Parson Mildmay's beautiful daughter was, by common report, already bespoken; having, as it was universally said, achieved more than had been accomplished by any beauty of ancient or modern times, namely, the conquest of the most talented, the most wealthy, the most irresistible, and the most insensible of his sex.
“ The man whom not a young lady from the Orkneys to the Land's End would refuse.
“ How she effected this we leave it to you to determine; but counsel you, as the great conqueror has taken the field, to consider of a timely retreat. Seriously, my good fellow, if thou beest in the lover's .condoling vein, as thou art of the sentimental sort, I advise thee to be wise in time; and not remain too long, shut up in a parlour ten feet square, with this Helen.
“For nothing is more certain than that Lord William's devotion was the theme of the whole society assembled at Dangerfield; and though the engagement between them was not openly declared, it was a perfectly well understood thing."
This letter closed at once all the flattering dreams of happiness in which Charles had long so fondly indulged. What the chances might be that Miss Mildmay and Lord William Melville would ever meet again, he paused not to calculate it was enough, she loved another; and his own personal prospects were at an end.
What were the struggles of nature, passionate and vehement, under this bitter disappointment, were never exposed to mortal eye. But Charles was not formed to sink under a trial of this nature. He had been early disciplined to habits of fortitude and self-denial; and, with the determination of a man of sense and spirit, set about to repress a passion which could now only serve, if indulged, to render life a burden to himself and others.
But, while he steadily controlled what was selfish in his wishes, he did not the less cherish a most tender interest in every thing which might befall Louisa. To secure her happiness he would have perilled his life; perhaps he did
more when he perilled his peace of mind, by remaining on the field, with the generous object of watching over and protecting her in the crisis of her fate, and of endeavouring to support her health and spirits in every emergency ; a task which he felt, and felt justly, she possessed no friend but himself capable of undertaking with propriety. And in the execution of which he denied himself even the slightest indulgence that could soften his own feelings.
The little parlour of the vicarage was, as a first measure of precaution, immediately abandoned by Charles. His books were carried into his bed-room, where he applied himself unremittingly to his studies during the greater part of the day; endeavouring to subdue, by the severest application, the too busy memory of the past.
He wrote and read indefatigably; and passed the fine summer evenings in long walks, which carried him to a considerable distance from the house in every possible variety of direction; and from which he very often did not return till supper was over, and the two sisters were gone to bed.
His first care in the morning was to receive from Mary a minutely accurate report of the manner in which Louisa had passed the night; to arrange with her the plan for gentle exercise and amusement during the day ; to provide her with books--some calculated to amuse and divert the mind; others of a more serious and devotional character, which he hoped might gently lead her to the true sources of mental strength and equanimity. But every thing melancholy or sentimental, or which dealt too curiously with the recesses of the heart, was as carefully weeded from the selection as could have been done by the hand of the most solicitous mother.
It may appear strange to some, that the charge of Louisa should fall, as it were, almost exclusively on Charles. But a little consideration will show that Mary, with all her goodness and sincerity, might yet' want a certain delicate discrimination, necessary to the successful performance of a task so difficult; and it is certain, that Mr. Mildmay, with an inattention too common to parents rather in the decline of life, had very superficially observed that which was so evident to all the rest.
He saw that his Louisa was wanting in her usual gayety; but as she smiled more--nay, almost exclusively for him, and made incredible efforts to conceal her weakness in his presence, and to dissipate any anxiety he might feel, he did not perceive how much was amiss.
Besides, age does rarely sympathize with youth. There has been a vast distance traversed between the two points; in the course of which, most women, and almost all men, have met with so many urgent and bitter troubles; so many wearying anxieties; so many cruel tortures of body or of
mind, that those sorrowsmequally intense, though apparently springing from a less substantial foundation, which agitate the hearts and derange the healths of the young, are too easily forgotten.
Therefore should man, throughout the whole of his career, cultivate and maintain in himself the gentle attribute of pity: of pity for infirmities not his own, and for sorrows which he has ceased himself to participate in; and, by the daily practice of indulgent consideration for others, learn to resist the deadening influence of years.
Most parents, even the tenderest, will find it wise to remember this. Few carry to the sorrows of their adult children that anxious sympathy and that tender solicitude which sooth the sickness and the griefs of childhood; and many an unlooked-for decline, and many an early grave, might have been averted, were this not too frequently the case. This remark-and it is strange, but it is true-but too ofteni applies to mothers in every class ; least, we believe, in the lowest.
At length Mary's husband, the worthy, plain-mannered, plain-spoken Mr. Phillips, returned. :
He had been attending a valued friend and noble patron in Ireland, where the precárious health of his patient had detained him for an unusual length of time; and he now returned, his cheerful spirits rendered more cheerful by the happy success which had crowned his judicious exertions, and his narrow purse well filled by its recompense, to take Mary and his children away.
The meeting between this worthy man and his affectionate wife-the pride with which Mary, arrayed in her most becoming dress, presented her little ones, whom she had been curling, and combing, and dressing half the afternoon, to their father—the honest exultation of the father in his treasures—the plain and hearty sense of happiness and selfrespect which sat upon his countenance; all these were to Charles a refreshing relief from his present uneasy feelings. He loved to see happiness, he loved to see genuine, unsophisticated happiness; and he loved simplicity and truth; and there were all these in the manner of this worthy pair to each other.
The scene pleased Louisa too. It struck no answering chord to pain her heart. Her love for Lord William, the enjoyment she had experienced from his society, and even from his very presence, was 80 exquisite, so refined, so unlike any thing which she could conceive as belonging either to Mary or to her husband, that she gazed without any of those regrets which the best must feel, when called upon to witness the joys lost for them, and to look at happiness through other people's eyes.
Mr. Phillips, like all the rest of the family, was exces sively fond of Louisa, and, as she put her hand in his, he looked in her face, and said,
“How's this, Louisa ?.—you are not well.”
“That is a very foolish way of talking, begging your pardon,” said he, gravely, “because it means two very different things ; either a very weak indulgence of very faulty feelings, or one of the most terrible inflictions with which it hath pleased the Almighty to visit his creatures : in the first and common sense of the word, I am sure you will never be nervous, Louisa ; from the second, may God preserve you," added he, in a lower voice.
When Louisa and Mary were gone up stairs to put the children to bed, Charles, turning to his friend, said, with an air very gravely anxious,
“I hope, Mr. Phillips, you will not think me impertinent in begging of you to pay very particular attention to Louisa. I do not like to alarm her father, or to increase the fears of Mary; but I suspect that something must be very much amiss with her; and, if she be still free from disease, that she will not long continue so."
Mr. Phillips looked rather surprised at the gravity, approaching to formality, with which Charles spoke, and said,
“ Charles, I had expected, before this time, that you would have thought yourself perfectly justified in aşking any question you thought proper about Louisa-ay, and in offering me my fee too," opening his hand.
Charles looked distressed.
“ Well, well, that's it, is it? I say no more; but I quite agree with you, something is very much amiss with Louisa, and her looks make me as anxious as yourself; but I will watch her well to-day and to-morrow, for I will stay here to-morrow for that express purpose; and I shall by that time be able to discover whether there is any thing very seriously the matter. Take no notice to my dear Mary of what I have said : even that good creature has the woman's infirmity; I don't suppose she could keep a secret from her sister to save all our lives. I wish Louisa to be without the least suspicion of my intention; and I am sorry I made the remark I did.”
Mr. Phillips was as good as his word. He narrowly observed Louisa during the whole of the two following days; and on the evening of the second, when the rest of the fam