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he had excused himself on the plea of indisposition, for he was determined religiously to adhere to his promise to Julia, of not premeditatingly putting himself in her way; and though no one could rejoice more sincerely than he did in his friend's happiness, yet he could hardly have borne to see him married to the sister of the only woman he had ever loved, and contrasted the difference of Lady de Clifford's wretched fate with that of her more fortunate sister. His eyes were still riveted upon the paragraph, or, rather, upon the words, “Viscountess de Clifford," when a servant entered with a salver full of letters, two of which were from Saville and Fanny, the latter to thank him for a beautiful “ pareur" of brilliants and sapphires he had sent her as a bridal present. Cheveley tore this open first, hurrying over all the thanks, and even the hopes that she and Saville might see a great deal of one for whom they had so sincere a regard. His cheek burned, and his breath was suspended, when he came to the end of the letter, for it contained the words, “ Dear Julia is not quite recovered from the effects of her illness; she is going down to that gloomy, horrid place, Grimstone, by herself. I hope Harry won't feel his manly vanity outraged, but I really am not so selfish as to feel happy when I think of the undeserved sufferings of one for whom the best of human lots would not have been good enough. I told her I was going to write to you; · she desired her kind regards and best wishes. My little niece's commission cannot be executed by proxy, as it consisted of kisses, which, as I told her, 'She must contrive to give you herself some day or other.' But the carriage is waiting to take us to Latimers, and Harry has just made his debut in a very conjugally dictatorial Come, Fanny.' So, fearing it might grow by delay into ·Come, madam !' I must say good-by ; but not before I have assured you “That I am, dear Lord Cheveley, “ Your grateful and sincere friend,
" FANNY SAVILLE."
“Oh God! oh God,” cried Cheveley, burying his face in his hands, “if I could in any way minister to her comfort, I would willingly sign a compact never to see her; but to know that she is ill, lonely, driven into a dreary solitude by the petty tyranny of one who is
not content with the most lawless liberty for himself, without oppressing her with the most inquisitorial per: secution; it is too, too much; and I feel all that the world envies, as wealth, station, power, a mockery, when it cannot extend to her. Julia, my poor Julia, to think that the only being on the face of God's earth, who would tear out his heart to serve you, is the only one who could not move hand or foot to do so without injuring you, is greater torture than sin could ever de. serve or time ever atone for."
Cheveley sat so long pondering over Julia's and his own adverse fortunes, that the butler thought something must have happened, and came to see if he might remove the breakfast things; at which his master gathered up his letters, and throwing up the window, walked out upon the terrace, followed by Prince, who had exercised an especial guardianship over him of late ; for dogs are sensible people, and see when bipeds are not quite fit to be left to themselves.
As Cheveley walked mechanically on into the beautiful valley that lay at the foot of the gardens, he opened Saville's letter. Nothing could be kinder or more devoted than its whole tone; and with that delicacy which sympathy ever inspires, he entered into and soothed his friend's feelings without ever alluding to them; one thing he hinted slightly, yet firmly, which was, the injury he would do to others as well as himself by remaining shut up at Cheveley, and not mixing in society as usual. “Saville is right,” said he, putting the letter in his pocket, as he walked on with his hands behind him; “but, like everything else that one ought to do, it is much more easily said than done.” As he made this reflection he reached the last terrace; the tinkling, lulling sound of a fountain made him turn round; the design of this fountain was Hylas and the Nymphs, done in bronze; but the water in the basin was so stagnant, that it was covered with unblown water-lilies. The thought of these “ fair white river-cups" carried him back to Julia and to Como; and though it was a sharp March day in England, he actually fancied he inhaled the verbenum-scented air of Pliny's villa.
“ Thus in each flower and simple bell,
That in our path untrodden lie,
How fast their winged moments fly.”
“I beg your pardon, my lord,” said Mr. Marshall, emerging from behind the fountain and taking off his hat, which Prince began busily investigating, “but I have spoken to one of the gardeners about cleaning this basin ; and I hope your lordship won't see it in this state by to-morrow.”
“Upon no account let them touch it,” said Cheveley; “on the contrary, I am so fond of these lilies, that I wish them even artificially cultivated wherever there is water; so have the goodness to attend to it, Marshall, will you ?"
“ Very good, my lord, it shall be done,” said Marshall, bowing a retreat, as Lord Cheveley descended the broad old stone steps that led into the valley. One side of this valley was bounded by a hawthorn hedge; on the other side of which was å by-road leading to Blichingly, and skirted by the arbutus-covered.rocks seen from the valley; and among the crags of which were to be seen the ruins of the old abbey before mentioned as the occasional rendezvous of the gipsies and their friends and patrons, the smugglers.
Cheveley had a vague recollection of having, as a child, clinibed the opposite heights, and hid for hours among the ruins, to the no small consternation of the inmates of the castle; and now, not much caring where he went provided he felt progressing, he even determined to let Prince lead the way, and to follow wherever he went. The dog having effected a passage through the hedge, looked round for his master; but seeing that he was already in the road, he wagged his tail, and bounded swiftly on into the opposite dell. For a few moments Cheveley paused to admire the beauty of the surrounding scenery ere he followed Prince up the little winding path by the Fairy's Bath, that led to the ruins. Upon gaining the summit, Prince stopped, as dogs will do, to botanize over a tuft of daisies; and not satisfied with the intelligence his nose brought him, he kept scraping and rooting up the earth with his paws; while his master walked on till he came near the old abbey, when his attention was arrested by the sound of voices talking in a suppressed tone behind the aisle, but still loud enough for him to overhear the following dialogue :
“I think it will be the death of the old man, and that is my only fear,” said a female voice.
“Nonsense. I tell you, Madge, it is the only way we can encompass the hunter in his own toils; and as for the man, you know he only lives and would die for revenge, and I honour him for it; and with heart, hand, ay, and blood, too, if needs must be, I will help him.”
“ Yes; but,” persisted the first speaker, “ see how he sinks already under disgrace and the desertion of his neighbours, and but that,"
“But me no buts, girl," interrupted the other voice; “I have never yet seen you in coward's armour ; so keep a stout heart still, and you'll not only serve your friends, but, mayhap, be made a lady yourself beyond the seas sooner than you think for: but remember, a craven heart shall never be my wife.”
This last threat appeared omnipotent, for the reply was in a coaxing, submissive voice.
“ Well, well, Miles, you know best, and I would do anything to please you or serve them; so you'll find that poor Madge will be a good girl, and true and silent as the grave. Good lack, this is a strange world; you and ), or at least I, would be scouted as an outcast, undeserving of credit or trust, and yet here is a great man, a gentleman, a nobleman, forsooth, nay, a lawgiver and protector of the people, can do that with impunity for which hanging would be too good were he as one of us."
“ The world, Madge, is divided into mountains and valleys : the great people are those upon the mountains; and however wicked they themselves may be, they have the right, because they have the power, to cast stones at those in the valley, whose inferior position precludes both retaliation and redress. But what's the matter with the dog? what is he whining and sniffing at? Wasp, lay down, sir.”
“Err-err-err, bow-wow-wow, err-err-wow.”
“It's only the child teasing him," said the woman's voice.
“Not it; he never minds the child; I hope there's no one outside.”
“ They could not hear if there was." “ I'm not so sure of that.”
Cheveley, not gathering from what he had heard that any mischief was intended on the part of the two conspirators, but, on the contrary, that some was evidently to be prevented, walked quietly round to the entrance
of the ruin; and, to give those within fair notice of his vicinity, began whistling and calling loudly to his dog. Before he gained the porch a man rushed out, and, slouching his hat over his eyes, hurried down the glen: at the same moment a little Scotch terrier trotted up to Prince, barking at him furiously. But while this modicum of dog's-flesh kept advancing and retreating in quick succession, and wagging both tongue and tail with amazing velocity, his highness stood immoveably still, and allowed himself to be barked at with great dignity and endurance, taking no other notice of the attack than by placing his black, cold, stately nose amicably close to the aggressor's ear, and ever and anon giving one or two slow wags of his tail.
“Wasp, Wasp, Wasp, come here, sir,” said Madge Brindal, now emerging from the ruins and leading Mary Lee's child. Cheveley started, evidently much struck by the picturesque dress and great beauty of the girl, whose brilliant complexion was rendered even richer at the moment by the fresh air and bright sunlight that, together, played upon her cheek.
* Such a fine gentleman as you should have a fine fortune : let me tell it you,” said Madge, coming laughingly up to him. “Blessings on your handsome face, may all your years be summers ; but I'm sure, before I look at your hand, that your fate is spun with velvet and silk; do let me unravel it for you."
“Good heavens !” cried Cheveley, for the first time looking at the child, and perfectly staggered with its likeness to Lord de Clifford, “whose child is that ?"
"Poor child,” said Madge, her eyes flashing as she spoke," he has Sin for his father, and Sorrow for his mother; but his father is a great man, the popular member at Triverton."
“De Clifford !" screamed Madge, as though she took delight in the impotent revenge of making the rocks echo with his name.
“Then it must have been since his marriage,” said Cheveley, thinking aloud.
“You know him, then ?” said Madge, looking eagerly in his face.
Cheveley was buried in a train of thought, and made no answer.