Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the interior country, leaving behind me all my little stock of apparel which had been given me, with my bonnet and shoes. I lingered near the bay for an hour in hopes of seeing, either Jacques, his wife, or some one of her relatives, but as this expectation died off, I became resolute to fear nothing, and to go on my journey as I was, alone. Seeing a barefoot and bareheaded Irish girl singing along under the trees, I was inspirited by her example, and having slept through the warm night, concealed in a heap of hay, set off by daylight, my heart being so fixed upon the end I had in view, that the difficulties of the way seemed light.”

“You surprise me, my dear Jane !” said Arthur; “you must have great strength of character hid under that seeming passiveness we see in your manners. Poor girl! what a variety of trying adventures she has passed through ! But you may comfort yourself now, Jane, with the thought that they are passed. And so,” he added, sitting down by her side, and taking her hand, “banish these clouds from your face—smile as I have never yet seen you smile—cast your eye round on your own Happy Valley—and toward yon house, which is to be your rightful home. See, Jane, how luxuriant and beautiful every thing is about us; and you behold nothing that shall not belong to you. It has been my own resource;—my own thought—my own hands—which have cultivated these slopes, which have built the lodge, the mill, and this bridge; therefore I can say to you—they are your own. But, my dear, I hope you will not object to my grandfather and my sister Lucy remaining with us in the same lodge, at least until I have time to construct another.”

“Arthur,” said Jane, without withdrawing her hand, “I came hither a poor, desolate girl, and yet you would give me your affection: I have told you that I am the daughter of a man to whom the laws have affixed infamy —and still you will not take away your regard from me: I am neither beautiful, nor learned, witty, nor rich—but you make up your mind to press upon me the acceptance of your hand. You have asked from me a plain answer, I will give it to you. I never yet did love any one, not even yourself, so well as I have loved my miserable father.” She wept violently, then checking herself, continued, “that is the sincere truth, and I hope I do not pain you when I say it.” “Not pain me!” exclaimed Arthur. “Love a father like that l” “No,” she cried, “not pain you—for you should not suffer yourself to be pained by it. I may—I think I shall —one day—perhaps—regard you exclusively—better than all the world beside—but that cannot be while my father lives, unless he should be brought out of his present way of life, and be seen living virtuously before the world and heaven.” “This is enthusiasm, Jane : you cannot seriously mean what you say. You will not so sacrifice me to mere imaginary dreams that may never be realised ? For ah, my dear girl you know little of the true character of mankind—how difficult, nay, how almost impossible, it is, to bring about any thorough reformation in men who have been long habituated to vice. Beside, only con... sider, you have no means to put in operation for such a purpose.” “I know I have not,” said Jane, looking, however, no less determined. “I know I must wait, perhaps long, before I can—” “I will tell you what I think is the case, now Jane; you really think you never shall esteem me, and you are anxious to rid yourself of my suit—perhaps you may have loved some other person—perhaps may love him still.” Jane arose as he was speaking, and walked forward beyond the bridge. Arthur followed her. “You are every way my superior,” said she “but you should think that though I am lowly, I am yet not capable of deceiving you by false hopes. To set the matter entirely at rest, Arthur, hear me say, I never will unite myself to any but you.” “Thanks, dear, dear, Jane !—unmeasured thanks!” “But, though I will keep this engagement, believe me, I will also keep the other. My father is first—Arthur second –never forget that. A time, as I said, may come, when you will be first, and all the world beside, secondary.” “Hasten that time, for pity's sake, Jane !” They shortly ascended to Arthur's Seat, and finding that Clinton and his charge were not yet arrived, sat down to wait for them, conversing together with more freedom and cheerfulness than before. They spoke with confidence to each other, and Arthur mentioned the attention of Clinton to his sister, concerning which he did not feel perfectly at ease. “He is still a stranger,” said Arthur, “as regards his connexions and birth, for he keeps these sedulously concealed; and latterly I have not been at all satisfied that he was innocent in that affair with the Settler's son. Dam is but a simple fellow, and it is hardly likely that he could have invented the charge, so as to produce all the circumstances which he now narrates with such accuracy. You were present, Jane, at the time when the accusation was made before my grandfather—and you felt satisfied of Clinton's innocence to “Yes,” replied Jane; “but I think little of what was my opinion on that occasion, for I was rather guided by feeling than judgment. I felt very much for Clinton— but I am sure I know not why. When I look back I can see no reason why I should not have felt just as much for Dan. Two years has made a great difference, Arthur, in my mind. I suspect now, where at that time I should never have suspected—and distrust appearances, that I could then have laid down my life for. Though my poor father was a Pirate, and I knew that he was so —though I dwelt so long on a vessel filled with reckless, abandoned men—yet my early years were like those of many other girls, marked by a disbelief of evil. How could I think the fair-seeming Clinton conla harbour one base thought, when, even in a man like my father, I have found noble feelings, fine sentiments, and at least the recollection of former principles, that he had entertained in the days of good Captain Barry. He was rendered very unhappy by the wild and turbulent life he led. I have seen him weep sadly, sir, when he has been talking to me alone; and he has said he would give the world, were it his, to live over again the last ten years of his life. When I have entreated him to forsake his men, and to hire himself on some foreign ship, or to cruise for himself in a lawful way of trade, on the Canadian waters, he would shake his head, and say ‘No, no, Jenny An

derson, it is too late now—it is too late now ; or, ‘ Go

to your book, my child—think of your poor mother—we will talk of this at a future day.’ And so, Arthur, having seen good in him, who was openly setting law at defiance, could I think one like Clinton, was in the least depraved 7” “My dear Jane,” said Arthur, “I myself, when I have heard Clinton speak of the occurrence with Dan, would have staked all I had on his guiltlessness. His proud carelessness—his plausible statement of what had passed between him and the Settler’s son at different times—the becoming forbearance with which he pretended to excuse his false accuser—completely satisfied me; and yet, upon examination, I must say with you, I cannot tell why I should feel so satisfied. Impressions in a person’s favour, are not evidences—neither are his own representations. We may have been deceived. I, like you, also, have much altered in my views of human nature during the last two years, since Clinton came here. In private talk with him I have heard such things as I never heard before, that have made me suspicious of the world. He has evidently mixed with all sorts of metropolitan society in England. He has described to me the splendid gaming saloons, and many other places of public resort (which I call by one name—infamous), with the circumstantiality of one who has been familiar with them, and partaken of their spirit; his acquaintance with places, where none but the vicious congregate, first rendered me uneasy, and set me upon drawing out more of his recollections, and with them, more of his principles, but he has become more on his guard of late. For one so young, it is strange, what a medley of scenes and characters he can bring before the eye; it seems to me, as

« AnteriorContinuar »