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Mrs. Blessington is to be buried to-morrow, arrangements shall be made for the reception of my foundling immediately. This being settled, Camden, I will leave you; as you have, no doubt, parish duties to attend to.-Good-b’ye, Conrad !” (tapping the infant on the cheek ;) “ you are a lucky fellow, to have gained so true a friend as Camden.” With these words, the young man quitted the humble dwelling, and bent his steps towards home; where, as he anticipated, a cordial assent awaited his communication to Mrs. Yorke; and in the course of a few days, the little Blessingtons were removed to their respective homes, where, for the present, we will leave them.
The youth exchanged his sylvan dwelling-place
The two gentlemen, introduced in the foregoing chapter, had been companions and friends at college, whence they had separated for a few years, only to cement a still more lasting friendship when circumstances again threw them together. Charles Yorke was the eldest son of a person who had amassed considerable wealth in the practice of the law, and who had intended his son should follow the same profession; but dying while Charles was yet a minor, the latter found himself, at the age of one and twenty, after an excellent education, the master of a large unencumbered property. After passing several years in an intimate acquaintance with the pleasures, and advantages, the follies, and perhaps some of the fashionable vices of le grand monde, where his elegant manners, youth, amiability, and large possessions, made him equally attractive to the gay, the good, and the designing, he united himself to a delightful girl, with whom he retired to his estate in the country. They had since continued principally to reside at Yorke Grove, enjoying the sweets of domestic life, and the pleasure of their infant family, which, at the time of their introduction, consisted of three children, of whom the eldest and youngest were sons. Edward was two years older than the little Blessingtons, while Louisa and George were alike their senior and junior by a few months only.
Of Mr. Camden a shorter description will suffice. The youngest of a large family, and the son of a poor clergyman, he was educated at Christ's Hospital, whence his talents procured him a college education; and his friend, Charles Yorke, presented him with the living of the village in which he resided. Here he had been settled about a couple of years, beloved by the poor, and esteemed by the rich, the admired of all who knew him: of him, it might truly be said, he was the father of his flock; and thus he lived happy and contented,
“ The world forgetting, by the world forgot." We will now revert to the orphans, thus each as it were transplanted into a foreign and widely different soil. In the few following months, the little Conrad secured the tender affection of his benefactor, whose own happiness was increased by the society of his protégé. About this time, Mr. Camden solicited and obtained the hand of the daughter of a gentleman of small fortune; and, as is but too often the case, where the one thing needful (money) is somewhat scanty, the demands for it were numerous.
In as many years, five children called on Mr. Camden for a father's care; and his wife, after the birth of the last, fell into that state of health, which, though constantly requiring care and attention, often stands time and distress better than a sounder constitution; in fact she seemed likely at any moment to be called hence, yet still continued to struggle, and live on. The death of three of their children, two sons and a daughter, in infancy, also added in no small degree to their domestic anxieties. The two children remaining were both daughters; and Mr. Camden, though an excellent parent, evidently looked upon Conrad with the love and pride which, had his offspring lived, would have been divided with his own boys. This partiality, Mrs. Camden by no means approved she considered the orphan an intruder;
and her ill-will was manifested in many little unkindnesses, which, however, she concealed in her husband's presence.
As Conrad emerged from childhood, he could not but observe and regret this feeling; but being an amiable youth, he confined his discovery to his own bosom, well knowing how great were his obligations to his early friend; and “ Is it not my duty," he thought to himself, “ to bear all Mrs. Camden's little ill-humours, for the sake of my foster-father, whose comfort would infallibly suffer by any disagreement in his family; besides, my comforts and advantages are so manifold, that it will be only a slight return I can make, and I am persuaded Mrs. Camden does not intend to hurt my feelings, by what she says in moments of dissatisfaction." Thus communed young Blessington, whenever he felt any annoyance from Mrs. Camden's jealousy; and his lively disposition enabled him to ward it off in a considerable degree. He was a great favourite with every one at the Grove, where his sister Emily had found an equally valuable, but more splendid home; she was educated as the companion of Louisa Yorke, who was a clever though somewhat spoiled girl.