Page images
PDF
EPUB

began to ache again, as it used to do, when they were administered at the first symptoms of a cold.

He saw her now, with her thick brocade dress sweeping the ground, and taking up so much room, that she obliged him to walk before her ;—his mischievous propensities not allowing her to feel happy, while he was bringing up the rear.

His brother Edward and himself had spent their vacations from school and college at Maydwell, during their uncle's life-time. Though Sir Frederick did not advert to her father, in her hearing, Laura knew that they had been inseparable, until the latter entered the army,

and every syllable he uttered concerning those early days interested her. His voice and manner almost always exercised a powerful but not a painful influence over her feelings. There was sufficient resemblance between the brothers to attach her strongly to her uncle while his open brow and frankly-smiling countenance were not such as to engender melancholy reflections.

She sat down to rest, for a few moments, in a little alcove of honeysuckles at the termination of the broad grass-walk. Her sweet, young face was calm, though pale. Clarice and Sir Frederick saw that her heart was full, and continued to pace up and down, without her. As she watched her uncle's manly figure, and caught his affectionate glance, Laura felt that she was not a stranger at Maydwell. She thought of her own father's honourable and stedfast courage, serene piety, and dignified demeanour. The brothers seemed to her again to stand side by side, as they had often done in early manhood, on the old turf walk; and through the more buoyant manner and sunny smile of the survivor, she fancied that she could trace the same firm basis of integrity, the kindly temper and generous disposition, possessed by her dead father. Clarice's words of cheerful prophecy returned to her recollec

[ocr errors]

tion; and as she gazed at the bees humming among the sweet flowers, and carrying home their rich stores to their hive,--the butterflies fluttering over the beds of lavender, as if rejoicing in their perfume,-her sadness departed. A healthier view of life and its many pleasures and occupations dawned upon her; and she resolved, if possible, to put her friend's wishes into execution.

Sir Frederick Derwent, meanwhile, in his own way, was, as Mr. Holcombe had asserted, thinking a good deal about his brother.

There never was a finer fellow than Edward, Miss Le Sage. No wonder that poor dear girl mourns for him so deeply!” he said to Clarice. “The soul of honour, from a boy! He often made me ashamed of my shortcomings, and won for himself a character, even with my stern old aunt, that stood him in good stead. She never did a better thing thán leaving part of her fortune to him.

him. The Pembertons have a great spite against Laura, in consequence. Roger was not half satisfied with the portion of her savings which he inherited; but it gave me a better opinion of Mrs. Derwent than if she had left the money to myself."

He gathered a fragrant spray of honeysuckle for her, as he stopped speaking.

“Many a time,” he presently went on, “ have Edward and I listened, in this green walk, to the old lady's lectures. I am sorry to say, they fell upon unproductive soil with me, and I got into a thousand scrapes, the instant her back was turned. How nobly he used to stand by me! I shall not forget, when we were older-young men, just entering into 'life--my aunt's sorrow at believing, through some strange misrepresentation which had reached her, that Edward had been guilty of a graver indiscretion. He would not betray me, and she forbade him her presence, but sent for me to hear a multitude of old saws and quantities of good advice, which I was to

deliver to him. I was so amused at the mistake, that, for a moment, I did not exculpate my good, steady brother. But the woman had strong sense, and knew on which side the probabilities lay. She burst out vehemently withEdward has such a character! I will not believe any action of his life ever did him discredit.' I almost loved her when I saw the tears run down her face; so I told her that I was the real culprit. She turned away, and took my name out of her will, the same afternoon. My share of her possessions went to Roger Pemberton, in consequence of a very venial error; but Edward never lost his place in her good opinion."

Clarice felt interested and pleased with his frankness. Laura had, by this time, risen and come towards them. They took a few turns together, and then went indoors, to dress for dinner.

Mrs. Holcombe was quite justified in saying that Sir Frederick was extremely fond of

« PreviousContinue »