Page images

and to efface from his mind the remembrance of one, who had culpably been betrayed into a passion for a man who was the betrothed of another.

The poor girl had no answer but tears, which fell fast from those eyes which had so lately beamed with love and joy. She could not promise to forget Ernest, for his image was indelibly engraven on her heart. She dared not promise to advise him to follow his uncle's dictates; for, in so doing, she should incite him to perjury and inconstancy: she therefore sought refuge in silence, from which, seeing her so overcome, her benefactor did not attempt to draw her; but, in a kind tone, bade her endeavour to do her duty, and as a daughter he would, as he had ever done, still cherish her. His unexpected mildness totally deprived her of the power of making him any reply, and he left her to herself and her uncontrolled sorrow.

Ernest, true to his purpose, prepared for his journey; but he could not make up his mind to go, without assuring Emily he was unchanged in affection. In vain he solicited an interview: his uncle was inexorable; even five minutes' conversation in presence of a third person was refused; and at length he resolved to have recourse to his

He traced a few hasty lines on a scrap of paper, which he delivered, with a gratuity, into the hand of a female servant, and watched her to the door of Emily's room ; then, being satisfied, he turned to his remaining preparations. That evening, he took leave of all his friends, sent a kind but constrained adieu to Emily, and retired to rest for the night.


When the note was delivered to Emily, she was sitting listlessly with her eyes fixed on the fire, her thoughts centred on one sole object. She felt her cheeks glow as the following words met her sight:

“If you love me, Emily, meet me in the avenue at six to-morrow morning: it may be the last favour I shall request.

" Your faithful ERNESt.” Tears, burning tears, of love and pride stole down her cheeks as she committed the billet to the flames, and for some time she sat as if paralysed by the intensity of her feelings; at length she sought her pillow, but sleep refused to lull her agitation for a moment: the dread of detection, in acceding to the request of her lover, for some time kept her in a state of indecision. She had almost made up her mind to follow the dictates of duty, and not to see him, when the

idea of the disappointment, the distress, her noncompliance would occasion Ernest, added to his probable supposition, that Mr. Yorke's injunctions had influenced her affections, induced her again to waver, and, finally, to determine that, happen what might to herself, she would not inflict pain on the heart of one she so truly loved. As the village clock struck the appointed hour, she reached the avenue, where Ernest stood beside his charger, which pawed the earth impatient at its master's dalliance.

« Oh, Ernest !” exclaimed the agitated girl, " I am come because


desired it; but it can tend to no good, we meet but to part for


“Say not so, dearest, best of beings !" returned the young soldier, encircling her waist with one arm, while the other hand restrained his restive steed. “ Trust me, brighter days will come; something tells me we shall


live to be united. Still think of Ernest as kindly as you have ever done, and, if the most grateful and fervent love can reward you, mine shall not be wanting. Weeks, months, nay, years, may pass ere we meet again, Emily; but time cannot sever our bond of love."

“No, Ernest, our hearts are as one,” returned she, with forced composure; “ but your uncle will never consent to our union, he has expressed so much indignation at our conduct, at what he terms my ingratitude, that I have no hope."

“ Your ingratitude, Emily ! in what have you been ungrateful ?”

“ In robbing Louisa of your affections, he says."

“ But she never possessed them !”

6 Had it not been for me, he thinks she might. You know how infinitely I am his debtor, and how deeply I must feel the imputation. I would sooner die than ill requite his bounty. My heart is yours, dear Ernest, but I fear


hand can never be !" “ Fear not, Emily! he will not be always so obdurate; let us live in hope. But we must part, my beloved; a longer stay may compromise your safety: and, Emily, if this is to be a final, as it is likely to prove a long, separation, promise to forgive me now, for the trouble and anxiety my love has brought upon you, and I leave you more happy.”

“ I do promise, Ernest,” returned she, faintly; “ how sincerely, you may never know !"

“ May every blessing attend you, dearest ! believe me, we part but for a time.” He pressed her to his bosom, and kissed her fondly; then, turning, vaulted into his saddle, and, as her last farewell struck upon his ear, he set spurs to his horse, and galloped down the road.

The poor girl watched her lover, until his figure was no longer discernible, when she returned to the house, and regained her room undiscovered.

For some time after Conrad's departure, Edward enjoyed more ease, the field seemed open for his intended operations, and he had time to concert a plan for vengeance. Hebecame silent, and morose, irritable, and unsociable. For hours he would wander out alone, to indulge his jealousy. Conrad's letters ever were his aversion ; from the pleasure they caused, and the various expressions of affection and regard which they elicited.

He was one day crossing a field, in the neighbourhood of the Grove, when he met one of his father's tenants, who, with a respectful salutation, enquired, “ What news of Mr. Conrad, sir ?” The name, the hated name, was for ever in his ear; nowhere was he secure

« PreviousContinue »