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ed with the ease of perfect innocence poetry, (she herself, admirably taught at Miss Aboyne's breakfast table, and by her father, had perfected him in there was no trace of stern displeasure the language,) could not help laughin the face of the fair hostess, as she ing at his evidently nettled recital of poured out for him the promised basin Lady Octavia's considerate kindness in of potent green tea.
lowering her performance to the sup“ You were right enough, Milly!” posed level of his comprehension ; but said Vernon, after demolishing a huge perceiving, with a woman's quick perfragment of Nora's sweet brown loaf ception in such matters, that even her -(for it is a truth to be noted, that lo- innocent mirth was not contagious— vers, as well as heroes, never forget (it is a nice affair to jest with wounded to “ appease the rage of hunger") — vanity)—she unaffectedly changed the “ You were right enough, Milly! La- subject, by drawing him into the gardy Octavia is not half so disagreeable den, where she required his assistance as I expected to find her. In fact, she in some trifling office about her hyais really agreeable on the whole ;- cinths, and soon beguiled him again certainly a lovely creature !—and she into smiles and good humor; and at and Dr. Hartop both exceedingly po- last engaged him to accompany her lite to me; but somehow I felt but own sweet voice, and the old finehalf at ease. The Doctor's civility is toned guitar, in one of his favorite so pompous, and now and then I could barmonies—not Italian, indeed, but have fancied Lady Octavia too conde- Scotch air of exquisite pathos, which scending. I wished myself here more had many a time before exorcised the than once in the course of the evening, foul fiend when its spell of fretfulness but could not get away; for first the and despondency was cast over him. Doctor pinned me down to three games Among the simple pleasures dear to of backgammon”_" And then, I dare Miss Aboyne, one of the greatest had say, you had music, had you not ?" ever been, from earliest womanhood, asked Millicent. “Yes, Lady Octa- the quiet luxury of an evening walk; via played all the time I was engaged and now, in later life, that innocent with her uncle, and put me sadly out, pleasure had not only lost nothing of by the by ; for she plays so divinely, its pleasantness, but the charm of asthere was no attending to the game." sociation, and the pensive joy of me
- So I suppose by this time you like mory, cast a more hallowed tone over the harp almost as well as the guitar ?" the hours of her favorite enjoyment. said Miss Aboyne, with an arch glance For many weeks, nay months, after at her companion. « Not I, indeed!” her father's death, the impaired health replied Vernon quickly, with a rather of his sorrowing child incapacitated heightened color; “though, to be sure, her from stirring beyond the narrow Lady Octavia was amazingly conde- boundary of her own little garden ; scending-very considerate of the poor but of late, so much of health and curate's ignorance and rusticity. She strength had she regained, that, with had been singing Italian while I was the support of Vernon's arm, she had playing with her uncle—some of our adventured to some distance from her favorite things, Milly ;-but when the home, and even beyond the village ; game was finished, and I approached and as the warm pleasant spring weathe harp, her Ladyship said, in the ther became more genial and confirmsweetest tone possible, 'I dare say you ed, Millicent's fluctuating cheek bewould rather have some English song, came tinted with more permanent hues Mr. Vernon ; perhaps I may find one of health, and every evening she was or two among this unintelligible stuff,' able to extend her walk a little and a and out she rummaged “The Wood- little farther, with her unfailing and pecker'-my aversion, you know, Mil- attentive companion. Those only who ly!” Millicent, who knew Vernon's have languished under the pressure of passionate taste for Italian music and a lingering, enervating malady, more
trying perhaps to the moral frame than viting to the Rectory any of those who many acute disorders, can conceive the might, perhaps, bave charitably barexquisite enjoyment of feeling ena- tered a portion of their precious time bled, by gradually reviving strength, for the reverend gentleman's exquisite once more to wander out beyond some dinner and old hochheimer, (not to narrow limits, within which the feeble' mention the attractions of his lovely frame has long been captive, to breathe niece)-the ready-made society of the the fresh free air of meadow or com- young curate--his qualifications of mon, or the perfume of green briery backgammon-playing-of listening delanes, skirting the clover or the bean ferentially to long prosing stories, when field, the still requisite support of some the Doctor was disposed to tell them, kind arm ever punctually ready at an or, when the latter was slumberously accustomed hour to lead forth the inclined, of directly and noiselessly grateful convalescent. How impatient- stealing away to the drawing-room and ly is that hour expected !-and shoul. Lady Octavia's harp, thereby contrianything occur to protract or mar the buting, in the dearth of stronger stipromised pleasure, how far more acute- muli, to keep the young lady in that ly felt is that privation than so triding flow of good-humor so conducive to a disappointment should seem to war- her uncle's comfort. These several rant ! Far heavier crosses may be qualifications, combined with the genborne with more equanimity, at less tlemanly manners and unexceptionable cost of reason and self-control. character of Vernon, made his society
So of late had Millicent longed for too valuable at Sea Vale Rectory not the hour of the evening walk-the hour to be monopolised there, with as much when her capabilities of enjoyment, exacting selfishness as could be exerphysical and intellectual, were ever cised consistently, with Dr. Hartop's keenest—when Vernon, released from natural indolence and habitual good his own peculiar duties and avocations, breeding. came punctual almost to a moment, Lady Octavia also conceived an to be her companion for the remainder aimable and immediate interest for the of the day, to afford her the support of handsome, unsophisticated young cuhis arm as far as her gradually return- rate, and forth with set her fertile imaing strength enabled her to wander; gination to trace out the rough drast and then, re-entering the cottage in of a philanthropic plan for “making tranquil happiness, to share with her something of him," during the sumthe pure pleasures of reading, music, mer seclusion to which she had so or sweeter converse, till her early hour dutifully devoted herself. No passion of retiring. No wonder poor Millicent is so vulgar or so vulgarising as an inhad fallen into the habit of longing for satiate love of indiscriminate admirathe return of evening! But now, for tion. The high-born and high-bred a season she must cease to do so. At Lady Octavia Falkland, habituated as least she must be content with uncer- she was to the refined incense of tain, perhaps unfrequent and hurried, courtly circles, would have condevisits from Vernon, after the late din- scended to smile on her uncle's aponer at the Rectory; and Miss Aboyne thecary, rather than have wasted “her bad too much good sense and delicacy sweetness on the desert air.” Vernon not to feel, and even enforce upon was comparatively an unexceptionable Horace, the propriety and common protege, and her benevolent scheme in courtesy of giving his society, for at his favor was by no means “ nipped i’ least the greater part of most evenings, th’ bud,” by the information coinmuto the host at whose table he was a nicated by Mrs. Jenkins, while assistconstant guest. And truly, in the ing her lady to undress on the night of perfect seclusion of Sea Vale, and the her arrival at Sea Vale Rectory, of present deranged state of Dr. Hartop's his engagement with Miss Aboyne. health, which precluded him from in “ What a stupid affair that must be !"
soliloquized the Lady Octavia ; "and morning as he could abstract from his how charitable it will be to give the parochial duties—duties from which gentle shepherd,' really so tolerable a she would have been the last to entice creature, some idea of la belle passion him; and once he had stolen away in its higher refinements—of the tastes during Dr. Hartop's after-dinner nap and enjoyments of civilized society, -not to the Rectory drawing-room before he is buried forever in a coun- and Lady Octavia, but to the cottage try parish, with a dowdy wife and a parlor and its gentle occupant, whose parcel of chubby cherubs.- sup- delighted and grateful surprise at sight pose,” observed her Ladyship, more of the unexpected visiter, made him directly addressing herself to the con first fully sensible of what she (the fidential attendantą" I suppose this least selfish and exacting of human Miss—what d'ye call her ?—is some beings) had never even hinted-how rustic beauty, all lilies, and roses, and lonely she had been in his absence ; flaxen-curls—for really Mr. Vernon is and he fancied, besides, that an apso good-looking, and so tolerable al- pearance of more than usual languor together, he would not have picked was perceptible about her, though at out a fright.”—“Oh! they say she's sight of himn a rich and beautiful glow very genteel, my Lady ! - (Miss suffused her before colorless cheek, Abine's her name, my Lady !)-and and her sweet eyes glistened (not used to be estimated rather handsome sparkled) with affectionate welcome, formerly, before she lost her father, as she exclaimed, “ Dear Horace ! is and fell into ill health and she's not it you ?-How good you are to steal so young as she has been.”_" Why, away to me! But could you do so Mr. Vernon can't be more than five without incivility ?--what will they or six and twenty, and it's impossible think at the Rectory ?” he can be in love with any thing as “I don't care what they think, old as that, when there can be no agré- Milly!” replied Vernon, quickly. mens to make amends for the want of “ This is all very wrong-very hard youth.” L" Oh! Mr. Vernon's seven upon us. Here you sit, left alone, and twenty, my Lady! and Miss evening after evening, deprived of exAbine's near three years older."- ercise-of the quiet walks we so en“ Three years older !—what, almost joyed together; and I am sure, though thirty ?-You must be mistaken, Jen- you said nothing, you have missed kins ; Mr. Vernon could never have them very much. Why did you not engaged himself so absurdly;—but it's take Nora's arm, and stroll out this an old affair, you said, didn't you, fine evening, Milly ?”—“0, I did not Jenkins ? Quite a take-in, then, no care to walk, without you, dear Hodoubt; for I suppose she has been race, and Nora is busy in her dairy at good-looking,—and boys are so easily this hour, you know ; and besides," caught! It's amazing how artful some she added, with a cheerful smile, “I old spiders are !” and so saying, the am very busy also, and shall get fair Octavia's head sank on her soft through a marvellous deal of work now pillow, to dream of old spiders and you are not here to make me idle.” young flies, and the philanthropic plea- That evening, however, Millicent was sure of rescuing some Auttering inno- but too happy to relinquish her notacent froin the web of its wily destroy« ble employment for pleasant idleness, er. If Vernon's evening visits to the and sweet companionship, and the recottage became comparatively short viving freshness of the bright green and unfrequent, after the arrival of fields. The lovers talked together of the strangers, during the earlier part their approaching union, their unamof their sojourn at the Rectory, he bitious hopes of quiet happiness, generally made his appearance at Mil- their plans of active usefulness and licent's early breakfast table, and de- wise frugality to be patiently and voted to her as great a part of every firmly pursued, till the better times
18 ATHENEUM, vol. 2, 3d series.
still prospectively before them should church, and that there was little arrive, to recompense them for the chance, from what he had observed, of cheerful endurance of temporary pri- Lady Octavia's attending the first vations. While they thus held sweet service, Millicent bad a nervous dread converse together, insensibly, as the of walking alone up the long aisle, evening shadows blended into twilight, subjected to the possible gaze of assuming a more serious and tender strangers, and gladly accepted the tone, well befitting the discourse of promise of Vernon's early escort. friends who spoke of travelling toge But Fate and Lady Octavia had orther through time into eternity ;-while dered otherwise. Contrary to Verthey thus held sweet converse, and non's “ foregone conclusion,” and just Vernon listened to the low accents of as he was hastening away to the cotMillicent's voice—so tender in its me tage, it was sweetly signified to him lodious infections—so touching as it by Mrs. Jenkins, that her lady, who breathed forth, with tremulous earn- had hitherto taken breakfast about estness, the inmost thoughts and feel. eleven in her own boudoir, would that ings of her pure and pious heart, he morning have the pleasure of making felt-felt deeply, the surpassing worth tea for Mr. Vernon, from whom she of the treasure committed to his care; should afterwards request the favor of and perhaps a vague, and almost in- conducting her to the Rectory pew. definite, emotion of self-reproach The lady trode on the heels of her mingled with the tender impulse message. The breakfast room which caused him to press more af- thrown open, and she led the way fectionately close the arm which rest- into it with gracious smiles and wined upon him, and to look round with ning courtesy, Vernon following in moistened eyes on the calm, sweet such a bewilderment of annoyance at seriousness of that saintlike counte- being thus compelled to break his ennance, upraised to his with the inno- gagement with Millicent, and of adcent confidence of an angel's love. miration for Lady Octavia's blooming
After all,” said Vernon to himself, graces and captivating sweetness, that as he retraced his solitary way that he quite forgot it would have been at night to the Rectory-after all, my Jeast expedient to send a message to own Millicent is as superior to that the cottage ; and, strange as it may brilliant Lady Octavia, as is yon beau- seem, by the time breakfast was half tiful pale moon to the bright meteor over, Vernon had actually ceased to which has just shot earthward.” What think of any object in hearen or earth inference
may be drawn from this so- beyond the interior of the Rectory liloquy as to the nature of foregone parlor. comparisons floating in Vernon's mind As Lady Octavia took his arm on within the circle of Lady Octavia's proceeding towards the church, howfascinations, we leave to the judicious ever, a thought darted across him, of reader's opinion ;-certain it is, that her who was at that very moment exthe last fervent conclusion was the pecting the promised support of that genuine, spontaneous effusion of sin- very arm in affectionate security; and cere and affectionate conviction. for a few minutes he was troubled and
The next day was Sunday, and distrait, and made irrelevant answers Vernon had promised to be at the cot- to Lady Octavia's remarks and questage early enough to conduct Millicent tions. Her ladyship had too inuch to church, and to her own pew ad- tact to notice the temporary abstracjoining the Rector's, before the gene- tion; and before they reached ral entrance of the congregation ; for the thronged churchyard, Vernon's though he assured her, that Dr. Har- thoughts were again engrossed by the top considered himself still too much charms of his fascinating companion, a valetudinarian to encounter the and his besetting sin—his lurking vanifatigues of early rising and morning ty-was not a little excited by her
flattering condescenion, and the eclat veil. On reaching the door of her of making so public an appearance own pew, her tremulous hand-even with the high-born beauty familiarly from that distance Vernon saw that it leaning on his arm. It was not until trembled-found some difficulty in unhe had conducted the fair stranger hasping it, and an old grey-haired man through the double file of gazers, that started forward from his bench in the lined the long central aisle, up to the aisle to render her that little service, Rector's pew, and left her there, pro- in return for which she gently inclinperly accommodated with hassock and ed her head, and in another moment prayer-book, and till he had withdrawn had sunk on her knees in the farthest to put on his surplice in the vestry corner of the pew. it was not till then that a thought of Vernon saw all this, too well reMillicent again recurred to him. But calling to mind poor Millicent's nerthen it did recur, and so painfully, vous anxiety to be quietly seated in that even after he had ascended the church before the arrival of strangers ; pulpit, and was about to commence and he saw, besides; what he hoped that sacred office which should have had been unperceived by Miss Aboyne abstracted his mind from all worldly through her thick veil, that Lady Occoncerns, he found it impossible to tavia had stood up in her pew to gaze restrain his wandering and troubled on the late comer as she slowly adthoughts; and his heart smote bim, vanced up the church, and was still when, glancing downwards on the as. taking leisurely survey through an eyesembling congregation, his eyes rested glass of her kneeling figure. Vernon on the empty pew where poor Mil- observed all this with acutely painful licent should have been already consciousness, and when the hymn was seated, and that immediately adjoin- concluded, it was only by a powerful ing already occupied by the fair effort that he applied himself seriously stranger whom he had conducted to his solemn duty. thither.
When next he glanced towards Miss It was the custom at Sea Vale Aboyne's pew, (while the first psalm church to begin the first service with was being sung,) her veil was fung the morning hynın, not one verse of back, and he observed with pleasure which was ever omitted by the zealous that her sweet countenance wore its throats of the village choristers ; and wonted expression of perfect serenity, on this particular morning, those and that she was too intent on the sasweet singers of Israel, in concert cred words in her hymn-book, and too or rather out of concert-with bassoon much engrossed by the utterance of and bass viol, had groaned, droned, her tribute of prayer and praise, to be and quavered through the first five sensible that the brilliant eyes of her verses, when the church door fronting fair neighbor, still assisted by the the pulpit, at the end of the long raised eye-glass, were fixed in curious middle aisle, slowly opened, and two scrutiny of her person and features. female forms appeared at it. One, In truth, Miss Aboyne had perfectly the humble, homely person of Nora recovered from the nervous trepidation Carthy, dropped aside into some ob- which had distressed her on first enscure corner ; and Miss Aboyne, who tering the church ; awful conscioushad been leaning on the arm of her ness of the Creator's presence soon faithful attendant, came slowly and superseded all thought of the creature tienidly up the long aisle, with ill-as- in her pious heart, and when at last sured and faltering steps, her tall her eyes caught an accidental glance of slender form bending under evident her fair neighbor, the only feeling that languor and weakness. She still wore for a moment drew her earthward, was the deepest and plainest mourning, and one of admiration for Lady Octavia's her face was almost entirely concealed striking loveliness. In her entire abby a large bonnet and a long crape straction from self, not even did the