Page images
PDF
EPUB

something miraculous must have happened by your face."

“Hi'm sure, ma'am,” said Beryl, settling the trimming of the cap, and holding it ever and anon at a little distance from her to judge of the effect, “Hi'm sure, ma'am,

you and hevery one that knows him must feel glad of - it, for he's a real gentleman, and will do credit to the name.”

" Glad of what? Do credit to what name ?" interrupted Fanny.

6: Why, ma'am, I was going to tell you. About an hour ago a government courier arrived in great haste, asking for the Marquis of Cheveley; the hotel people told him there was no nobleman of that name; but Nr. Mowbray's valet coming in at the time, the courier soon made him understand that the old marquis was dead, and that his master was now Marquis of Cheveley. The courier said he had halso got a letter for him from the prime minister, which he wrote in a great hurry, as the carriage was waiting to take him home to Windsor in time for dinner. Well, of course, my lady, all we servants was anxious to know how Mr. Mowbray, I mean the marquis, received his new honours ; so we waited till Mr. Sanford came down from taking up the letters the courier had brought; but would you believe it, ma'am,” continúed Beryl, turning to Fanny, who was by far her most attentive listener, “he found him with his elbows leaning on the table and his face buried in his hands, in a sort of stupor like; and although Mr. Sanford called him my lord,' and told him that a government courier had brought the letters, he took no notice but to point to the table and say, ‘Leave them there. Now, really, poor dear gentleman, nobleman I mean," said Beryl, correcting herself, in which she was right, for they are not always synonymous, “ I do not think he can be quite right, for he has looked dreadful hill this last week to be sure, and I really think he should have medical hadvice, 'specially now he's a marquis. Law, what a fuss, to be sure, Mr. Herbert Grimstone does make about the little miserable bit of health that he has left; for hif his finger only aches, all the doctors in the place are immediately sent for ; and hi'm sure such a fine, handsome, generous nobleman as the Marquis of Cheveley's health is of much more consequence than his.”

• Very just observation," laughed Fanny, who never could resist a joke, especially against the Grimstone's. “And now, Beryl, have the goodness to tell Luton to mix some Brussels lace with the blue rosettes on that new Indian muslin dress of mine, as I shall wear it at dinner.”

" Very well, ma'am," replied Beryl, as she folded a white Cashmere shawl round Lady de Clifford, who mechanically assisted in the operation, trembling more from agitation than cold.

“Dear me,” said Beryl, giving a parting stroke to the shawl, “this reminds me of his lordship's, I mean the marquis's, generosity; for his lordship, at least Lord de Clifford, never gave me as much as a pin's point, though hi'm sure I've valeted him oftener than his own valleys; but that's neither here nor there. But the marquis says to me the other day, now, in the most gentlemanest like manner possible, now, quite as if I had been a lady,

Mrs. Beryl,' says he, ‘hi'm afraid you find it coid o nights sitting up with Lady de Clifford ! 'Oh, dear no, sir,' says I (for he was only plain sir, you know, then, ma'am), 'for anything I can do for my lady his a pleasure.' "That I'm sure it must be,' says he, in the purlitest manner possible ; ' but still, Mrs. Beryl, fearing you may take cold, I must beg your acceptance of this shawl. And with that he gave me the beautifullest green Cashmere you ever see in your life, ma'am, much fitter for a princess than a servant; indeed, my lady admired it so much, that she took it and gave me her scarlet one instead of it.”

There is no knowing how long Beryl might have expatiated on the new marquis's good qualities, had not Lady de Clifford crimsoned at the allusion before her quick-sighted sister to her weakness in making an exchange with her maid in order to possess herself of Mowbray's gift. Beryl, perceiving the sudden flush on her mistress's face, exclaimed, “ Dear me, my lady, how weak you are still; let me give you a little camphor julep, or you will never be able to get into the drawingroom.”

Julia took the proffered restorative, and then leaning on her sister's arm, walked slowly and feebly into the next room. It was a relief to her to find it empty. Fanny placed her on the sofa, saying she should go for her work and return immediately. “So, then," said Lady de Clifford, as soon as she was alone, “ Lord Cheveley is dead; he will now want no excuse to go : it is fortunate, very fortunate, ver-w" and she burst into a paroxysm of tears and buried her face in her handkerchief. The door opened, and a footstep advanced softly: if Julia thought at all, she thought it was Fanny; and without uncovering her face, she put out her hand and said, “ Do let me go back; I am too ill, love, to remain here.” Instead of the gentle remonstrance or acquiescence that she expected, she felt her waist encircled, and a thousand burning kisses imprinted on her forehead. She started up, and perceiving Lord Cheveley, gave a faint scream, and sunk again upon the sofa.

“Julia,” said he, flinging himself passionately at her feet and seizing her hand, “ we have no time for anger or reproach, for accusation or defence; to-inorrow, before this time, I shall have left you, to borrow your own words, perhaps for ever; and will you, can you, anticipate that doomed hour by spurning me from you now; am I not punished, have I not suffered enough? This last wretched week I have begun my impossible lesson of trying to live without you. You think the death too slow a one, and you would kindly hasten it; be it so, then; the few remaining hours that intervene between our eternal separation shall not be made tedious to you by my presence.”

He rose as he spoke, and moved one step towards the door. Julia saw, heard, felt nothing, but that he was going; going in sorrow, if not in anger: duty, pride, womanly pride, all gave way; and grasping his arm convulsively with one hand, as her other arm encircled his neck and her head sank upon his shoulder, she sobbed out, “ Pity, hate, despise, but do not, do not leave me now."

“Oh! blessed, blessed words," said he, raising her head, and for the first time pressing his lips to hers; but they were cold as ice, for she had fainted. He laid her gently on the sofa. “Wretch that I am,” exclaimed he, as he untied the strings of her cap and parted the hair on her polished brow, “thus eternally to sacrifice her to my selfishness; but to-morrow, yes, tomorrow, the struggle will be ended. She will be at peace, and no matter what becomes of me. Sweet soul! wert thou indeed fled, who could, who dare, keep that loved form from me; and, all cold and lifeless though it might be, yet would I not exchange it for all the living loveliness earth could produce.”

His ravings were here interrupted by Fanny's return. Lord Cheveley rose precipitately from the side of the couch where he had been kneeling, and arranging his hair so as in some degree to hide his face, stammered out, “Dear Miss Neville, I fear Lady de Clifford must have been more ill than we had any idea of; from her extreme weakness, in rising to speak to me just now, she fainted.”

“She has been very ill; but you also look ill and agi-, tated," replied Fanny, with a penetrating glance.

“Oh, only a few natural tears at my poor uncle's death,” said he, colouring.

“ True: that reminds me I have not yet congratulated Lord Cheveley ;" and Fanny put out her hand, upon which the young marquis imprinted a kiss.

“Dear Julia," said Fanny, rubbing her sister's temples with eau de Cologne, " she is indeed terribly weak; I'm sorry I persuaded her to come in here."

“After the first exertion, I should rather say that it would be of use to her,” remarked Lord Cheveley, who did not like to acquiesce in anything likely to lead to Julia's again leaving the room.

“Perhaps so," returned Fanny, “ for she is now beginning to revive. Have the goodness to open the window; she will be the better for the air."

When Julia came to herself, she was for some minutes unconscious of what had happened, or even of where she was; till, seeing Fanny and Lord Cheveley bending over her, the sudden recollection of all that had taken place previous to her sister's return suffused her face with crimson. She made an effort to rise, which Cheveley perceiving, and fearing that, if she once left the room, she would not return while he remained, he gently took her hand and said, with as unconcerned a manner as he could assume,“ Dear Lady de Clifford, you have no idea how I reproach myself for being the cause of your so far exerting yourself as to rise just now ; I would have taken all your congratulations and good wishes for granted, I assure you. I was just going," continued he, smiling, " to show you a letter I have received from Melford; I think it will amuse you: certainly the Jesuits never tried harder for proselytes than the Whigs do, though, it must be confessed, they have not the art of retaining them when made; owing,

perhaps, to their Roman magnanimity in courting their enemies and neglecting their friends."

Julia took the proffered letter with a trembling hand, and without daring to raise her eyes; enclosed in it was a slip of paper, on which was written the following lines : “ Who could bear that fond letters so sacred as thine,

Should encounter the gaze of the worldly, the cold ?
No, the flame hath consumed every heart-prompted line,
And those records of love I no more shall behold !
Each phrase, well remembered, I witnessed effaced ;

Thy loved name, by my lips pressed again and again; : Oh, no more let thy feelings expression be traced,

For 'twas death to destroy what I dare not retain." When she had read them, she did raise her eyes and cast one look at Lord Cheveley, full of gratitude and esteem, as she placed the lines in her bosom and handed the premier's letter over to Fanny, begging she would read it out, as she could not very well decipher the hand. Lord Melford's letter was dated Downingstreet, and private ; it ran as follows:

MY DEAR MARQUIS, “In being the first to congratulate you upon your accession to a title, which, distinguished as it already has been, will, I feel, derive additional lustre from its present possessor, may I venture to hope, that with the other honours of my late noble friend, the mantle of his political principles may also have descended to you; in this wish I am graciously joined by the highest personage in the realm. Lord Denham returned from Russia immediately on the death of the KM: his object is nearer home; great changes have taken place in the colonies; the governor-generalship is not yet disposed of; I have no hesitation in saying, that the next vacant garter will accompany the office; but as I hope soon to see you, these matters are best discussed personally, especially as the courier only waits for this letter to start, which barely gives me time to assure you, my dear marquis, “That I am ever faithfully yours,

“MELFORD.” “ Which being interpreted,” said Fanny, “means that, if you will, like a good boy, go out to Canada, or do any thing else they please, it shall have a pretty blue riband, so it shall."

« PreviousContinue »