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Mrs. Burnett then handed me a letter, from , better than my mother. All men a part of which I found that "the worst” was very en- whose property consists of land, feel a natural durable indeed; my mother had just been con- complacence in the idea that it shall descend to fined of a daughter, and was doing remarkably an heir rather than to an heiress; when, howwell. I dwelt over and over on this latter ever, the expected heir proved to be as the old assurance; and the former piece of information, butler emphatically and ungallantly observed, although it excited much surprise in me, gave of the wrong sort,” he lost all feeling of me neither pleasure nor pain. I staid about five interest in it. "He had a daughter already," he minutes longer in the drawing-room, and the observed ; a girl was no novelty.” And the French teacher told me that evening, that Mrs. little stranger in her bassinet, with a crying face Burnett had been much gratified with my con- and an over-trimmed cap, was very unlikely to duct, and had remarked that I very un- rival the ringletted blooming girl, who could worldly.” I could not at all comprehend the sketch the landscapes and sing the songs of meaning of this encomium. Of course I am other lands, translate from the German, repeat unworldly," I soliloquized; “how can I be other poetry, and take down lectures in short hand, wise? I have not yet been introduced to the talk about the flowers as though her wonted world."

place of abode had been under ground, and The French teacher here thought it advisable enlarge on the stars as if she had lived all her to follow in the wake of her superior, by paying life in a castle in the air. Yes, I was wonderme a compliment. “You must have your feel- fully accomplished; everybody said so, ings in great subjection,” said she; "I am sure little notice was bestowed on the baby by our you behave admirably on the occasion : what a visitors : she was called Dora, after a married happy thing it is that the baby is not a boy!" sister of my mother's, who resided in France,

I was on the point of asking her to explain and who stood godmother by proxy to her. A her mysterious remarks, when she was called nurse was engaged for her, and she was then away to the assistance of a little girl suffering in confined to the "sweet seclusion” of the former the agonies of an intricate French verb, and boudoir and second spare room, and I returned I pursued my train of perplexed reflection. to Mrs. Burnett’s, ready to assure all curious "What command over my feelings have I inquirers that I was just as unworldly as ever, shown?” thought I. “When I believed my mother and that I was quite as willing the baby should to be in danger, I was anything but calm and have been born as not. composed ; and why is it a happy thing that the A year elapsed, and the close of it was disbaby is not a boy? People, generally, seem to tinguished by an event far from acceptable to wish for boys in preference to girls; and, if my my parents ; another baby was born, another father and mother have done so, I am sure it is girl too. My father began to dread that these a pity they should be disappointed.”

pledges of affection might become "splendid I was roused from these cogitations--which annuals,” and my mother uttered a pathetic incertainly justified my title to the honours of quiry, to which nobody could return an answer, unworldliness—by a summons to attend my of " how she could possibly introduce Althea if master in arithmetic, and while covering a slate this sad business were to occur again ?" Kathewith the figures of long division, I never rine-for so was the baby named, was received thought of that plain practical rule of simple with even less warmth of welcome than Dora division, that a fortune divided by two, becomes had been; and the monthly nurse, that chartered just half its original quantity! When a month flatterer, having received a chilling look of conhad elapsed, I returned home for the vacation : tempt from my mother in return for her fearless I was welcomed warmly as usual by my parents, prophecy that““ Miss Katherine's beautiful black and had no need to feel jealous of the favour eyes would break hearts without number some enjoyed in the family by the newly arrived young day or other,” she was compelled to preserve an lady. My mother was thoroughly vexed and unwilling silence on the charms of her little disconcerted by the whole affair; she bad, to nursling, indemnifying herself by sundry mutuse her own expression, "forgotten all about tered soliloquies on the future triumphs in store infants,” and did not like the trouble of reviv- for her. We had no other intruders on our ing her nursery lore. Then our house, although domestic quiet. I left Mrs. Burnett's in half elegant, was not large: two apartments were set a year, and my mother felt herself competent to aside for my own use, and a boudoir and second the task of introducing me; neither her health spare room must be sacrificed for nursery ac- nor spirits had suffered by her increase of macommodation; the child seemed to her to be ternal cares, perhaps for the very good reason remarkably fretful, and to cry much more than that she took little or no care of her children. dear Althea had ever used to do; in short, no My mother was an amiable woman, and had baby, whose arrival had been ostentatiously entered on her matrimonial career fully deterheralded by a white silk and silver pincushion, mined to perform all her relative duties ; she had bearing the courteous words—"Welcome, sweet taken her own mother as a model, but the cases babe,” ever yet found its reception so completely differed when they were brought into comparison. contradictory of the flattering promise of the My grandmother had favoured the world with said fallacious pincushion. My father had felt two girls in two years; she had superintended no wish for any addition to his family, but he their sayings and doings in the nursery with had reconciled himself to the prospect of it exemplary perseverance, she had selected an accomplished governess for them, and afterwards from my heart all apathy and selfishness as if sent them to a first-rate finishing establishment. he had taken lessons of that celebrated conjuror She then introduced them into society, proved who mysteriously advertises to instruct gentleto them the most vigilant and judicious of men "in the art of parlour magic.” He was chaperons, and at the end of the second season about ten years older than myself, and was the had the reward of seeing Althea the wife of the only son of wealthy parents ; they had seen rich and kind-hearted Mr. Musgrave, and Dora and approved me. He had declared his love to united to the Chevalier de Meronville, whose me, I had received his declaration favourably, respectability was so decided, and whose wealth he was about to speak to my father and mother, was so enticing, that the bride and her parents and I had no doubt that they would receive his deemed these good qualities a sufficient counter- suit with gratification; but alas ! how imposbalance for the sacrifice of “England and the Eng- sible it is to speculate upon human affairs ! how lish,” it being the determination of the Chevalier little did either of us anticipate the blow that to reside entirely in France. Now my mother felt was in store for us! Captain Thornton's regithat she could have performed all these duties ; ment was ordered to the East Indies. but she had never calculated on having two “ I cannot exchange to another,” he said, sets of duties to perform at once, and they “even for my beloved onem puzzled her as much as the revolving balls of the Indian juggler puzzle those who are only ""* I could not love thee, dear, so much, accustomed to keep up one at a time. She

Loved I not honour more :' could not be the presiding genius of both the nursery and the drawing-room-she could not but would my Althea refuse to accompany me?" attend in the same hour to the interests of her “Refuse to accompany you!" I exclaimed, little ones and to those of their very elder sister; with all the enthusiasm of twenty, “I would papboats and presentations would assimilate but accompany you to the deserts of Siberia! but indifferently—a silver belled coral would form a oh! Thornton, my mother, my father, how can strange accompaniment to a grand pianoforte; they part from me?”. worked cambric robes might be very pretty, “Let it be my painful, yet pleasing task, to but blonde and lama were incomparably more persuade them to do so?” he said. He left me, so; a disquisition on Godfrey's soothing cordial and I was soon summoned to the presence of would be an unsuitable preface to a visit to an my parents. The scene that ensued was more opera box, and Daffy's elixir would be an an- than affecting, it was afflicting; my mother, noying theme at the close of an evening at bathed in tears, told me that she would not Almacks.

withhold her consent to my acceptance of CapAccordingly she made over Dora and Kathe- tain Thornton, but that she neither hoped nor rine to the care of their nurse, devoted her en expected to survive her separation from me. tire time to me, and having thus settled her “You have been all that is dutiful to me, Alaccount in the domestic “Rule of Three” ac- thea,” she exclaimed, “all that is excellent. Oh! cording to her own calculations of convenience, that it should be my hard fate to wish that you felt herself perfectly easy and happy, and en- had been less so! I then should not so severely joyed, with the utmost triumph, the credit of feel the pangs of this hour; perhaps I have been being mother and chaperon to one of the pret- too fond, too proud of you, and this trial is sent tiest girls that had ever ornamented a drawing- to benefit me; and yet I think in any other room. (Should my readers deem me vain in shape it would have been more tolerable; I thus eulogising myself

, I have Harriet Byron could better have borne poverty and sickness and other great authorities to plead in justifica- than the loss of my beloved Althea.” tion; but I will at present only beg of them to Had I been in a mirthful mood I might have suspend their opinion of me till they reach the smiled at the easy manner in which my mother end of my story.)

talked of poverty and sickness, having the comOh! how was I followed and flattered during forts of a good jointure and an admirable conthe whole of that spring ! and I received offers stitution, but I could only echo her sobs. of marriage too as well as vows of admiration; “Dear Althea,” interposed my father, “do but I thought, in the words of the Scotch song- not think I wish to depreciate Captain Thorn

ton, but you may have many more lovers like "I'm ow'r young to marry yet ;"

him-you never can have parents who will

cherish you as we have done ; can you bear to or rather I did not think at all about the mat- give us up, can you break the heart of the most ter-my heart was still untouched. My second fond and tender of mothers, whose hopes and season was as brilliant as my first, and my wishes are centred in yourself?”. suitors were as many; in the summer that suc- “ You have my sisters," I faltered, a little ceeded it, I went with my father and mother to ashamed of myself, however, for instancing stay at the house of a friend in the country-1 Dora, who could just spell, and Katherine, who there met with Captain Thornton, and my could just talk, as fitted to be the companions boasted indifference was speedily vanquished. of rational beings. I no longer verified my claim to the title that “Oh, Althea!" sighed my mother, reproachhad been given me "The maid with bosom fully. cold;" my lover had as completely banished "You cannot, my love,” said my father

“consider for a moment that your place can be , others for one alone, might not in a great measupplied by infants whose minds have not sure apply to our case when we felt so strong hitherto expanded, and whose tempers are yet and sincere an affection for an individual as to to be developed ? if you leave us, you leave us be willing to connect ourselves with him in the to a dreary home, more sad on account of the ties of marriage. Soon, however, I reflected light and the joy that you once caused to reign that the love which bound me to my parents within it."

was of no common description, that it was proI thought of the ballad of “Auld Robin bable a separation from me might have shortGray;" the situation of the heroine was differ-ened their lives, or, at all events, undermined ent, but two lines were very applicable

their health and happiness; and, in that case, I

could never have forgiven myself for my selfish “My father urged me sair, my mither did nae speak, and unfeeling desertion of them, never have But she looked in my face till my heart was like to known a peaceful hour, even in the society of break."

the chosen one of my heart and judgment. ConI burst into tears, my resolution gave way, I sequently, I determined to believe that all had consented to sacrifice my first love, to refuse happened for the best—the love of my parents Captain Thornton. I will pass over the dis- towards me appeared still more fervent than tressing interview with my lover that ensued; I ever ; they had promised me, when I rejected found it impossible to induce him to sympathise Captain 'l'hornton on their account, that they with the feelings which impelled me to reject would never press me to accept any offer, howhim-he persisted in imputing my conduct to ever brilliant and desirable, against my inclinaweakness of mind, want of affection, and selfish tion; and when, at the age of three-and-twenty, love of my own comfort and convenience; and I refused Lord Welby, who was young, handI had the opportunity of hearing from various some, wealthy, and amiable, they did not, even good-natured friends that such was his impres- by a word or hint, endeavour to induce me to sion concerning me up to the very moment of revoke my determination. They certainly behis departure. “ Had my parents," he said, haved admirably on this and every similar occa

absolutely prohibited my union with him, he sion; and enjoying the affection of my nearest would not have tempted me to disobey them; connexions, the approbation of my own conbut they had allowed me to act as I pleased, science, and the homage of the world, I felt that I preferred them to my lover, and thereby I could bear my fate with tolerable tranquillity, proved that I knew not the nature of true and even although • crossed in love;" that I could devoted attachment.” Thornton was so candid walk over Blackfriar's Bridge without casting and right-minded that he would not have con- one "longing, lingering look” on its parapet; tinued, after the first ebullitions of feeling, to and that when I visited the Monument, with a judge thus severely of me, had he not been group of country cousins, I had not to contend influenced by the malicious interference of one with the remotest inclination to descend from of his own family. I have said that I was it in any more precipitate manner than by fortunate enough to be a favourite with his quietly walking down the stairs. Let not my father and mother, but I stood very low in the readers be too severe upon me for thus profesgood opinion of his married sister, Mrs. Ibbot-sedly enjoying my triumphs in society: I can

She was many years older than her truly say that had my parents been out of the brother, and had always assumed the right of question, I would have joyfully forsaken the advising and controlling him ; it was her object world to have lived in seclusion with Thornton; to keep him single, for her father's estates, which but he was lost to me by my own act and deed, were of great value, would then eventually be- and no abjuration of society could have restored come the property of her eldest son, a boy about him to me. I wished to gratify the fond love of ten years of age : she was disconcerted beyond my father and mother--perhaps, too, I had a measure when he paid his addresses to me, and little self-love to be gratified, but I certainly proportionably delighted at my refusal, but she never was a coquette, and never excited hopes feared that he would renew his proposals, and which it was my intention to disappoint. I always that my deterinination, or that of my parents, refused an offer of marriage with pain, but I would give way, and therefore industriously en- was pleased at being accounted beautiful and deavoured to implant in his mind the idea that attractive, and the audible murmurs and comhis love had been undervalued, and his feelings mendations of my person, which were sure to trifled with, by a cold-hearted, selfish coquette. greet my entrance into a crowded room, never

Captain Thornton went to India, my father failed to be acceptable to my ears. I had enand mother regained their spirits, but I slowly deavoured to form myself on the model of the regained mine; outwardly I smiled, but I felt well-known linesfor many months that the admiration of the world had lost all charm for me, and that the

“Favours to none, to all she smiles extends ; gaieties of society failed to enliven and interest

Oft she rejects, but never once offends ;" me. Often I communed with myself in solitude, And I believe I pretty well succeeded in my and asked whether I had indeed done right in attempt, and that no reigning belle ev

stood so relinquishing the man whom I preferred to all high in the estimation of her own sex, or conothers, and whether the sacred obligation of the verted so many rejected admirers into friends marriage service, commanding us to forsake all among the other. Yet let me not be supposed

son.

to represent myself as an exemplary character ; , vacation-time; they were occasionally admitted I loved society too well, I estimated its approval into the drawing-room, where they made a very too highly, and I well deserved to experience its pretty back-ground appearance in their white slights and coldness at a future time. I must frocks, coral necklaces, and shining curls, but also candidly plead guilty to another fault ; I they were incorrigibly shy and silent. My father was indifferent and cold-hearted to my little considerately said that they were “just the sisters; I might have won their affections, stupid age;" but my mother, more severe in watched their unfolding minds, amused and her judgment, settled at once that they had instructed them, but I contented myself with “ no affections,” and drew a lively comparison paying them a short daily visit, and reconciled between their sullenness and coldness, and the my conscience to this neglect of them by the gratitude and warmth of heart of dear Althea at example of my mother, an example which in the same period of life. that respect I must say had better have been Some years elapsed; I was nine-and-twenty, avoided than followed.

and my admirers began to decrease: I had When Dora was six years of age, my mother seen my best days; I had lost the freshness engaged a nursery governess for her juvenile of girlish bloom; not that I myself discerned progeny. This nursery governess was a most any difference, but I could not be blind to exemplary young person: I call her by that the opinions of others, although good breedname because it was more familiar to me than ing restrained them from any outward demonher real one, for it was my mother's constant stration of it. When presented to strangers, habit to tell every morning visitor that “she the glance of earnest admiration was no longer had an invaluable young person in the nursery, bestowed on me; my hand in the dance who had not a wish or thought apart from the ceased to be an object of eager contention ; children;" and well was her commendation I was not followed in public walks, nor did Í merited, for the young person in question suffer under a heavy fire of opera-glasses at ** looked at the world through the back win- public places. Strange to say, I perceived this dows," as if she had never looked at it through alteration long before my parents did; my mothe front ones. She was evidently and sincerely ther simply remarked that she did not wonder I fond of Dora and Katherine, but her redundant had met with no new proposals of late : she was capabilities of loving seemed to extend them- only surprised that anybody should have hoped selves to all animate, even inanimate things ; she to gain me when my rejection of Lord Welby had a dingy canary bird in a very small cage, a was so generally known; and my father rebowl of gold fish, and several white mice; she plied, Never mind, my dear; all is just as we had also a stage of sickly greenhouse plants, could wish it; Althea grows better and prettier which shared the usual fate of their parlour every day, and I do not think I could spare her brethren, in being visited by too little sun and even to Lord Welby himself.” too much water for their good, and over which About this time the Chevalier de Meronville she used to bend with as much fond earnestness died, and left the whole of his large property to as if she understood the native language of the his wife; she wrote to my mother, volunteering flowers, and were holding with them a sweet and a visit to us, and saying that she was most sad colloquy concerning the days of the past. anxious to be introduced to her dear nieces, in She had no taste, like some of the “ young per- whom she took the warmest interest.

sons" in our neighbours' establishments, for A wealthy widow, who has her property at - cheap artificial flowers and showy-coloured mus- her own disposal, is sure to be warmly welcomed

lins; she was always dressed in grey merino and by her relations; and Madame de Meronville's a black lace cap, and looked something like a letter received an enthusiastic reply from my nun; but she was not dead to all romantic mother. She arrived in England, and wrote to associations, for she wore a mysterious miniature us informing us of the time when we might exround her neck; and once, on suddenly entering pect her. I well remember the evening on which the room, I found her weeping over a packet of we sat awaiting her arrival. Dora and Kathetime-worn letters tied with a faded blue ribbon. rine were of the party; it was their vacation She lived in our family for three years; my time, and as Madame de Meronville had spoken mother was then persuaded by a friend to send of her nieces in the plural number, my

mother Dora and Katherine to school, and she left us, deemed it well that we should form a family and settled herself in a lodging near us, where group to greet her on her entrance. I felt she painted screens and worked ottomans for nervous and dispirited; I knew that my aunt sale, and sometimes gave lessons in French and had been informed that I was a distinguished drawing in the vicinity, at a rate of remuneration beauty. “ She will be sadly disappointed,” I very desirable to economical housewives. Dora thought, as I looked in the mirror. I had been and Katherine felt no grief at leaving home ; growing thin and pale of late years, and the they had never, poor things, known the sweet mourning I wore for the Chevalier de Meronness of domestic affection. When they returned ville made me appear still thinner and paler; in the holidays, they took up their abode in my hair also had lost much of its luxuriance, their usual apartments, where they were warmly and contrasted ill with the rich clustering curls welcomed by the above-mentioned "young per- of my younger sisters. My father asked Dora son,” who was quite the guardian genius of our how old she was; she had told him twenty times family, and always came to stay with us in the before, but he always forgot her answer. “I

me,

am thirteen next birthday,” she replied, with must allow these presuming young people to some exultation at being so near her teens. The have very greatly improved upon our girlish sound jarred on my ear. “I am thirty next appearance. birth-day," I thought; “Dora is entering on My mother here rang the bell, and dismissed the sunny season of life: I am passing into the her juvenile beauties to their balmy slumbers ; shade," and I remembered the words of an old but the mischief was done, their blushing cheeks song

and sparkling eyes clearly showed that they had

for the first time in their lives sipped of the en“ Days of my youth, ye are gliding away;

chanted cup of flattery, or rather I should say Days of my youth, ye will shortly be vanished.” of praise, for they certainly fully deserved all

that my aunt had said about them. My father My train of meditation was, however, broken and mother now endeavoured to draw me into by a bustle in the hall, and the entrance of my notice, but it was evident to me that Madame de aunt. The first joy of meeting over, Madame Meronville was prejudiced against me; she bede Meronville directed a scrutinizing glance at lieved (in which she did me injustice) that I had

“ You have not been well lately, Althea, I artfully alienated the affections of my parents fear,” she said, " and yet my sister has not from my sisters, and that I took an envious mentioned your indisposition in her letters." pleasure in mortifying and depressing my young

I assured her that I was in perfect health. and lovely rivals. She likewise considered my

“ Your hours are so late in England,” she age at variance with my position in the family; said, “ that I ought not to wonder if your roses her French experience had taught her to divide begin to droop towards the close of the season the ornamental portion of society into two classes just as the garden roses come into bloom." --young girls and married women; and she

“Althea does not indulge in late hours, I avowedly considered that “single ladies of a assure you,” said my father, who could not certain age,” if not consigned to a convent, endure even the appearance of a reflection upon ought to separate themselves in dress, habits, me; I think she has recently become quite and manners from the juvenile; discard flowers, indifferent to balls and large parties.”

flounces, and flirtations; and occupy their time “Doubtless,” said Madame de Meronville, in quietly conversing with their contemporaries, addressing me, you have somewhat of the and trimming dresses for their younger sisters. feelings of a mother, as well as of a sister, My aunt's first evening was a specimen of many to these dear girls, who are so many years succeeding days; she loaded Dora and Katheyounger than yourself; and I dare say you have rine with presents, compliments, and caresses, no pleasure so great as in conversing with them, and at the end of a fortnight said to my mother, and cultivating their minds."

“ I have sometimes, Althea, felt very angry with My aunt had certainly taken the means to you for your evident indifference towards your bring back the roses to my cheeks. I had very sweet younger girls, but I believe now that all is lately been calculating that I was seventeen years for the best; I can, with greater courage, make older than Dora, but I had no idea of being re- the request of you that you will spare to me not minded of my seniority in so abrupt a manner.

one, but both.' “ Dora and Katherine,” interposed my mo- “ Both !” exclaimed my mother; “ I could ther,” are at an excellent establishment, where never think of troubling you so much, my dear the improvement of their minds is carefully sister; I certainly thought that Dora might attended to; you must not, however, expect to prove an agreeable companion to you in your find them very clever.”

widowhood, but it would be unmerciful to bur“ Must I not?” said my aunt, smiling. “Is den you with Katherine also.” beauty their sole possession? Well, it must be “ Í undoubtedly,” said my aunt, “came here allowed that it has been dispensed to them with with the purpose of adopting Dora; she is my no niggard hand; I have seen nothing in France godchild and my namesake, and seemed to have so lovely as my sweet little nieces."

a claim upon me beyond that of her sister; but “My dear sister,” exclaimed my mother Katherine's striking personal likeness to myself hastily, “ you must not ridicule my poor little in my juvenile days places her at least on an girls; they are quite conscious that they possess equality with Dora in my estimation; besides, no personal recommendations."

the dear girls are so much attached to each other “ Mamma says that Althea has engrossed all that it would be barbarous to divide them. I the beauty of the family," observed Dora. Ma- intend to reside during the greater part of the dame de Meronville looked at me with a peculiar year in Paris; I shall procure the best masters smile; had she spoken her thoughts, she would for Dora and Katherine, and introduce them at doubtless have said that my beauty was a tra- a future period into the best society; I do not dition of former days, but she merely remarked like to bind myself by any promises as to their to my mother, “You, of all people, must not future provision, but you are aware that my deny the pretensions of your little girls to husband left a large property at my entire conbeauty; Dora is the image of yourself in your trol; he had no near relations, and I have none juvenile days, and Katherine is just like me at ut yourself and your children; judge then the same period; but I am afraid we cannot whether Dora and Katherine are not likely to gratify ourselves with the belief that posterity is inherit my possessions.” degenerating from our own high standard; we My mother was delighted with this munificent

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