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ance, his lighter fancy might have Lady Octavia Falkland had allowed been more susceptible of other fasci- Vernon to perceive that for him, capanations ; and a consciousness of this ble as he was of—she never said exsort, and that he had for a time forgot- actly what-she considered it one of ten her who ever thought of him, per- pitiable degradation. And there haps it was, that imparted a shade of again, though Vernon's best feelings more than usual seriousness that ere- and more serious conviction sided with ning to the expression of his large Millicent, the lurking weakness of his dark eyes, and of peculiar tenderness nature was grateful to Lady Octavia to his tone and manner. And for ma- for her lattering prepossession. ny succeeding days, even Nora's lynx “ Millicent certainly loves me with eyed jealousy detected no cause for true affection," once or twice solilodissatisfaction in any part of his con- quized Vernon; “ and yet, how strange duct; and more than once Millicent it is, that she should have no ambition hastened him from her side, where he for me that she should see me with was fain to linger, by reminding him of less partial eyes than one to whom, the lateness of the bour, and the courte comparatively speaking, I am nothing sy due, on his part, to his entertainers at - at least”—and then broke in somethe Rectory. Of the fair lady who thing very like a sighế" to whom I presided there, Vernon made less and can be nothing now ;—but Milly has less mention in his discourse with Mil- seen so little of the world, and Lady licent; though even now again a few Octavia so much, and has such extrawords, a hasty remark, escaped him, ordinary insight into character !-50 that might have impressed an indiffer- much warmth of feeling !--so much ent observer with a persuasion, that heart !”—Poor Millicent! wert thou Lady Octavia's charms and opinions cold and heartless ? had, at least, their due weight with A few days after Doctor Hartop's her uncle's handsoine curate ; and cer- memorable after-dinner cominunicatainly the delightful naïveté with which tion, Lady Octavia signified to Vershe had betrayed her admiration of his non her intention of calling that mornfine person and interesting character, ing at Sea Vale Cottage, which conhad by no means depreciated Vernon's descending attention on her part had estimation of ber Ladyship’s refined been hitherto delayed by his report of taste and superior judgment. Lady Miss Aboyne's increased indisposition, Octavia had also performed, to the and her inability to receive visits. life, a few sallies of artless indiscre- That cause of exclusion having ceased tion and amiable enthusiasm, from to exist, however, he could no longer which the gentleman was not very decline for Millicent the proffered slow to infer, that she discerned in courtesy. His own private reasons for him intellectual as well as personal wishing it could be altogether avoidqualities of a higher order, than even ed he did not perhaps analyze very his affectionate Millicent gave him curiously; or rather he assured himcredit for. She, at least, had never self, that solely for Millicent's sake, administered that incense to his vani- who would in truth gladly have disly, which was so delicately, and of pensed with the visit, he was thus course unconsciously, offered by the considerately reluctant. Lady Octavia; still less had Miss But now Lady Octavia was predeAboyne, in the humble simplicity of termined ; she would go that morning her heart, ever dreamt of regretting —she would go directly—and Mr. for Horace, that Fate, whose agency Vernon must escort and introduce her. in human affairs she was not wont to And before he had well got through acknowledge, had marked out for him two or three not very neatly-turned the obscure lot of a country clergy- sentences expressive of his sense of man. Millicent Aboyne could fancy her Ladyship’s kindness, and so on, no lot in life so peculiarly favored. he found himself with his noble and
lovely charge at the entrance of Mil- the fresh morning wind, which had licent's little cottage. In another mi- also communicated a richer glow to pute, Nora (who, to Vernon's horror the peach bloom of her young cheek, and dismay, presented herself with a and a more sparkling vivacity to her brown coarse wrapper, tucked up laughing eyes. Vernon saw that Miss sleeves, and blue coddled arms evi- Aboyne's eyes were riveted admiringly dently fresh from the suds) had thrown on her lovely guest. His, but the open the door of the small parlor moment before, bad been drawing an where Millicent was sitting at work; involuntary comparison between the and Vernon's rufled feelings were not youthful beauty and his own sweet smoothed to complacency by his quick Millicent; and if, on one hand, he nervous glance at the nature of her was too forcibly struck with the conoccupation, which was that of divid- trast of the opening and the waning ing, and folding with neat arrange- rose-of the sheltered blossom, and ment, certain lengths and squares of the storm-beat flower-he observed coarse dark household napery. Co- also, with affectionate pride, that the loring and confusedly, without raising interesting and intellectual loveliness his eyes to the countenances of either of Miss Aboyne, her sinple dignity of the fair Jadies, he hurried through and natural elegance, lost nothing by the ceremony of introduction ; but the closest comparison with the brilthe calm sweet tone of Millicent's liant graces and perfect finish of the voice encouraged him to look up, and Lady Octavia. when the natural grace and lady-like With what extraordinary celerity self-possession with which she receiv- will thoughts, deductions, conclusions, ed her beautiful visiter, relieved him and endless trains of ideas and images in part from the uncomfortable feelings succeed each other on the magic' lanwhich Lady Octavia's courteous ease tern of the inind ! Vernon's mental and amiable prévenance also contri- mirror still reflected a confused and buted to dispel, he found himself in a misty portraiture ; that of the Lady few minutes conversing with his fair Octavia presented far more definite companions with tolerable composure. and well-arranged conceptions. On Still his restless eyes glanced ever and her way to the cottage, she had been anon at the coarse unhemmed towels, weighing interiorly the comparative and then at the direction of Lady Oc-, amusement to be derived from patrontavia's eyes—and from her to Milli- izing Miss Aboyne, or breaking her cent, and again from Millicent to the heart-but her® judgment rather inclintitled beauty. Beautiful indeed the ed from the scale of patronage. In latter was at all'times, but strikingly London, or in a ful! and fashionable so at that moment. Lady Octavia neighborhood, it might have been had too much good taste, and too played off à merveille, with high credit much confidence in the unassisted ef- to the protecting power ; but what fect of her own charms, ever to over- could be done in that way at Sea load them with fashionable frippery. Vale ? It would be more in characHer costume that morning was a plain ter with that sweet seclusion to get white muslin robe, setting off to the up the other entertainment, which, best advantage the perfect symmetry with good management, might be of a figúre, about which a large India wrought into a very pretty romance of shawl had been carelessly wrapped, real life, and last out the whole term and was now suffered to fall in pictu- of exile, leaving the catastrophe to resque drapery off one shoulder. A follow-for Lady Octavia's feelings large straw hat, tied loosely with a were modelled much after the dramabroad green ribbon, also fell back as tic taste of our Gallic neighbors, she seated herself, so as to leave near- which interdicts murder on the stage. ly uncovered a bright profusion of au
,” resolved the candid burn hair, beautifully disarranged by schemer, “ I will see this Miss Aboyne
before I make up my mind." And anything in my homely work worthy the brief test of a few minutes' inter- the condescending attention you are course with the unsuspecting Millicent, pleased to bestow on it,” quietly sufficed to settle her Ladyship's plan remarked Miss Aboyne, in whose of operations. She felt, almost at character want of penetration was by the first introduction, that Miss Aboyne no means the concomitant of simpliwould not be patronized-so set her- city, and whose sense of the ludicrous self to work, with a clear conscience, was keen enough to have excited a on the other experiment.
laugh at the solemn absurdity of her “ What a sweet cottage you live in, fair visiter's caprice, if good manners Miss Aboyne !" observed Lady Octa- had not restricted to a smile the outvia, after a little desultory conversa- ward indication of her feelings. tion, during which she had been tak “ Ah! now I know wbat this is—I ing a critical survey through her glass remember all about it,” triumphantly of the little parlor and all within it. exclaimed Lady Octavia, looking up “What a sweet cottage !” she ex- from the object of her examination, claimed, rising to complete her exami- on which, however, one rosy palm renation. “ So neat! and so small and mained emphatically outspread. “This pretty! Do you know, Mr. Vernon,” is hackaback, or shackaback, or turning to Horace, “I quite adore it, some such thing—the same sort of it puts me so in mind of dear Falk- stuff inamma gives for pinafores to land ;-it's so like our poultry woman's our school at Falkland. I wish I was cottage in the park !" Vernon color- half so clever and industrious as you ed and fidgeted; but Millicent said, are, Miss Aboyne, but I am afraid Mr. smilingly, that she was indeed partial Vernon could tell you I am a sad to her little home, and gratified that trifling creature.” its unpretending prettiness had excited “ Miss Aboyne's general avocaa pleasing association in Lady Octa- tions differ less from your Ladyship’s via's mind. “But do you really live than those she has selected for this here all alone, with only that old wo- morning's amusement,” said Vernon, man?” inquired her Ladyship, with a with an ill-concealed irritability that sweet expression of condoling interest, tingled to his very finger-ends; and just sufficing to make it doubtful whe- nervously starting from his chair, he ther her impertinence were intentional, went towards Millicent's music-stand, or artlessly indiscreet. “How very and partly to prove bis petulant asserodd that is, I mean," how very de- tion, as well as to withdraw Lady lightful !-and I dare say you have al- Octavia's attention from the hated ways something to do-some' useful work-table, he requested her to look work or other-so superior to fashion- over some manuscript Italian music able, trifling occupations ! Do, pray, which he hurriedly extracted from the go on with that you was about when pile. His request drew forth an exwe came in, my dear Miss Aboyne. clamation of surprise from her LadyI would not interrupt you for the ship, as, approaching the inusic stand, world—and it would really amuse me; and taking the offered sheet, she cried, do go on—its delightful to see people “ Italian !-you sing Italian, then, so clever and notable. I should like Miss Aboyne? I suppose Mr. Verto learn,” and running to the table, non has been your teacher.” MilliLady Octavia drew a chair close to it, cent looked towards Horace with arch and set herself to as grave and curi- meaning in her eyes ; but taking the ous an inspection of the coarse manu- reply to himself, and speaking with facture Millicent had been employed generous warmth, and a countenance in, as if each towel had been an an- glowing with grateful acknowledgment, cient manuscript, and every stitch a he said, “No, indeed !-your Ladyhieroglyphic or a Greek character. ship does me too much honor ; I am “ Your Ladyship will scarcely find indebted to Miss Aboyne, and to one
who was equally beloved and respect- ened him as to the capabilities of his ed by her and by myself, for all my own heart, to leave him and his beknowledge of Italian-for every ac trothed to complete their stupid union quisition I most value for more than in their own dull way, and be “ I ever can repay.” There was a happy as possible ever afterwards." general pause. Lady Octavia wished Millicent did not again see Vernon she could have retracted a question till late in the morning which succeedwhich had excited feelings of a very ed that of Lady Octavia's visit; but different nature from those she de- she received him then with looks that signed to insinuate, and had drawn beamed a welcome even more affecfrom Vernon so spirited an arowal of tionate than that with which they were them. But the slight inadvertence ever wont to greet hin. His warm led, at least, to one satisfactory con- tribute to her dear father's memory, clusion.
80 spontaneously uttered the precedVernon's honorable warmth and af- ing day in reply to Lady Octavia's fectionate allusion to her beloved fa- uncivil observation, had been balm to ther, touched the spring of deepest her heart, and her grateful feelings emotion in Millicent's bosom, and were ready to overflow at his appearsubverted in a moment the outwork of ance. But he approached and greetcalm self-possession, which had main- ed her with an unusual degree of tained itself so successfully, and, in coldness and constraint, and there was truth, so easily, against the oblique a cloud upon his brow, and an abaim of Lady Octavia's puny missiles ; stractedness in his manner, that quickand the deep flush that now mantled ly and effectually repressed the exher before colorless cheek, and the pression of a sensibility too tender tears that swam in her dovelike eyes, and profound not to be keenly suswere evidence unquestionable that ceptible of the slightest repulse. Miss Aboyne had a heart, and one not For some time few words passed altogether organized of “ impenetrable between them. Vernon seated him-. stuff.”
self beside Millicent at the table To do Lady Octavia Falkland jus- where she was finishing some pencil tice, however, she did not meditate sketches, and usefully employed himactual murder, on or off the stage, or self in cutting up her pencils into anything, indeed, but a little harm- shavings, and her Indian-rubber into less temporary sport with the happi- minute fractions. At last — Milly,” ness of the two persons so long and said he, abruptly, “ what can induce solemnly contracted. She merely de- you to waste your time about such signed to assert the omnipotence of abominable work as you were employher own charms, by convincing Miss ed in when Lady Octavia called yesAboyne that she had it in her power terday?-and to have it all spread out to make Vernon faithless to his early in your sitting-room too !-such vile, vows; and, with regard to Vernon hideous litter!" himself, she only intended to give him « My dear Horace !” mildly replia clear insight of the disadvantages ed Millicent, looking up from her which must attend his union with sketch with an expression of surprise, Miss Aboyne, and a despairing glimpse not unmingled with a more painful of the superlative felicity in store for feeling — my dear Horace ! do you the fortunate mortal who should awa- forget that, circumstanced as we are, ken an interest in her own fair bosom. my time is much more wasted in such With guarded caution, also, she cha- an occupation as this, than it was in ritably inclined to indulge him with the homely task you found me engagan experimental taste of la belle pas- ed in yesterday? You know, Hosion, such as it might be between sym- race,” she added, half smiling as she pathetic souls of a superior order; and bent again over her drawing, then, having so far generously enlight- Nora and I are very busy now provid
25 ATHENEUM, vol. 2, 3d series.
ing for our future household comforts ? as alabaster, and eyes of the dark viBut I will allow, such work as mine olet's own hue, ("the dim brooding was yesterday is not ornamental to a violets of the dell,”') now upraised to sitting-room; you shall not find the Vernon with an expression of innolittle parlor so disgraced again, dear cent surprise and not offended feelHorace."
ing.” The sweetness of the answer was “ What a sin it is to hide such hair irresistible ; but though it made Ver- as this, Milly !" continued her lover, non heartily ashamed of the weakness lifting aside one of its heavy tresses which laid him open to such paltry from her now smiling and blushing annoyance as that he had just made face, on which he gazed with a sudden cause of complaint to Millicent, it and almost surprised conviction, that could not immediately tranquillize his his own Millicent was a thousand irritable mood, or charm him into for- times lovelier than Lady Octavia ; and getfulness of those tormenting thoughts the evidently admiring fondness with and comparisons Lady Octavia had which his looks were fixed upon her, been too successful in exciting. Yet did not lessen the suffusion of her was he so sensible of their unworthi- cheek, though it quickly brought tears ness, that he hated himself for the in- into her modest eyes, as they fell voluntary and unsuspected treason, bashfully under their long black lashes. and his heart smote him more sharply There is no such cosmetic as bappiwhen, a few minutes afterwards, Mil- ness; no such beautifier as the conlicent spoke of Lady Octavia's beau- sciousness of pleasing, when we wish ty with such unaffected admiration, as to please ; and never was woman's testified, had such proof been wanting, heart indifferent to the gratification of how incapable was the genuine humi- being even personally pleasing to the lity and nobleness of her nature of en- object of her affections, whatever some vious self-comparison with the youth- superior-minded disagreeables may ful loveliness of another. “ I never saw pretend to the contrary. Of late, such hair as Lady Octavia's !-such some half-defined idea had possessed beautiful hair!" she observed, proceed- itself (she scarce knew how) of Miling with her drawing and her eulogiuin. licent's humble heart, that though she “ But I have, Milly, and much more was still dear to Horace, not only for beautiful,” asserted Vernon, edging his her own sake, but for her father's, chair nearer to hers; and in a twink, and the remembrance of “auld lang ling, before her inquiring look had syne,” she had no longer any personal met the tender meaning in his eyes, attractions for bim; and she HAD FELT he bad dexterously removed her close the contrast between herself and Lady mourning cap, and plucked out the Octavia, though, in her simple integcomb that fastened up a profusion of rity, drawing from it no conclusion the finest hair in the world, black and more painful or uneasy than that Hoglossy as the raven's wing, which, race must feel it also. But that sudthus released from confinement, fell in den action,—those few words,-and, redundant masses over her neck and more than all, that look of his, conshoulders, waving downward almost veyed blissful assurance that she was to the ground as she sat, and, half- still beloved as in days gone by-still shrouding her face and figure in its beheld with eyes as fondly partial. cloud-like beauty, invested with some- Vernon was quite right. His own what of celestial character the touch- Millicent was, at that moment, a thouing loveliness of a complexion pure sand times more beautiful than the and transparent, and almost colorless youthful and brilliant Lady Octavia.